While the fourth Thursday of each November conjures up visions of turkey and the trimmings, it's the third Thursday of the same month that rouses wine lovers. Each year, George Duboeuf and his merry men and women pop the corks at midnight and declare "Nouveau Day" in honor of the new vintage of Beaujolais.
Celebrations abound across the world (in Japan, the largest market for the wine, fans participate in elaborate parades). Franck Duboeuf, heir apparent to the global phenomenon his father built, travels to New York City for the uncorking and fanfare.
Made from the Gamay grape, the wine is fizzy, fruity and a little frivolous, thanks in equal parts to carbonic maceration, a fermentation process that gives the wine its characteristic spritz, and clever marketing. The wine goes from vineyard to market in a matter of months, giving it a youthful expression. Full of fresh, happy fruit, "think bananas, mango and bright berries," says Franck, Beaujolais Nouveau is very much a live-in-the-moment kind of wine.
Photo courtesy mondoramas.com
One of the largest presences in Burgundy, Duboeuf has more serious wine under other labels, Pouilly-Fuisse, Brouilly, Fleurie and Morgon among them. The older vintages, the "library wines," show complexity and rich fruits. The Dubouef brand is an invitation to explore other Beaujolais of varying character.
But today, “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive!,” so drink it up.
We asked Franck, global cheerleader, to be frank about the wine at today's NYC event. Here are his responses:
Lana Bortolot: How is this year's vintage?
Franck Duboeuf: Well, incredible! Thanks to beautiful weather conditions and Mother Nature, we were able to produce another great vintage - quantity and quality together, which is not so very common. It was an early harvest, vinification went very smoothly, and we had beautiful, healthy, very ripe berries. It's another great vintage!
LB: What are some of the flavor characteristics?
FD: Obviously we have a bouquet of floral and fruity aromas. We have hints of tropical fruits. It really shows the maturity of the fruit. It is a wine designed for pleasure and for the party. It is a wine with no rules.
LB: How does the brand stay relevant?
FD: Well, it is quite established in the U.S. This day coming so close to the holiday, [people know] it's a perfect food companion for festive meals. Now, at 60 years old, it is really the wine that'd the link between generations.
LB: What are the biggest achievements for BN?
FD: We give a lot of care and patience to Beaujolais Nouveau because it is our ambassador around the world. But it is also the first signal to the consumers about the new vintage. So, it is a very important moment for the Beaujolais life and the region, this "rendez-vous" each year.
LB: If the wine had a personality, what would that be?
FD: Ah! Beaujolais Nouveau is the turbulent child of the Beaujolais wines and in the cru family. Well, we appreciate its character and its sense. It is the wild child.