So what is it and why don't people like it?
Well, Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine made in Burgundy, France from the Gamay grape.
It is made in a slightly different way to most wines with the grapes being left whole during fermentation rather than crushed in a method called Carbonic Maceration.
The result of this type of fermentation is a lighter style in terms of both colour and weight as no skins are crushed resulting in a lighter juice with little tannin, suitable for younger palates.
Nouveau literally means “new” in French and like any wine that has just been harvested it is very, very young.
There is no complexity and to be honest it is akin to alcoholic fruit juice, which is fine if you know what you are getting.
I think that a lot of consumers thought they were getting something different when they bought the bottle, especially with Nouveau’s Burgundian roots, only to be disappointed when they drank it.
Possibly this was a result of the huge marketing push centered around Nouveau at the time.
Beaujolais Nouveau bottles are easily recognized with by their brightly coloured “arty” labels and the contents of the bottle bright red, young, fruity, acidic and to some wine drinkers, bloody awful!
It has its place; no one buys Nouveau for the cellar, it's meant to be drunk now, today, with a good beef stew, and as a celebration of this years harvest.
If you over think Nouveau you're thinking too much.
Nouveau is a simple soul, what you see is what you get.
Beaujolais Nouveau, however, is not at all typical of other Beaujolais wines that have, unfortunately, been tarred with the same brush resulting in lost popularity.
Nouveau is to Beaujolais wines what a Mini is to a Mercedes, great but not at all the same product.
Beaujolais wine is made from the same grapes and using the same process as Nouveau, it just has a longer and sometimes different aging process.
Real Beaujolais Red is still acidic and a lighter style but with layers and complexity sometimes on par with it's more expensive and sought after Burgundian cousin Pinot Noir.
It's a shame that these beautiful Beaujolais wines have fallen into the same catagory as it's younger Nouveau counterparts, definitely a result of fantastic marketing by wine companies that back fired on other serious Beaujolais producers.
Beaujolais has had a hard time climbing out from the bottom of the barrel but it is still afloat and their wines are just as good, if not better, as ever they were.
There are 3 appelations of Beaujolais:
Beaujolais AOC – basic Beaujolais with a majority of wines being sold as Beaujolais Nouveau
Beaujolais Villages – accounting for ¼ of Beaujolais wine production the wines come from the north of the region and from a collection of 39 villages. Some Nouveau produced but not much. Stricter controls than for regular Beaujolais AOC
Cru Beaujolais – highest classification in Beaujolais. No Nouveau production allowed. There are 10 crus (villages) and which are where the best reputed Beaujolais come from - Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Réginé, Saint Amour
Each of the crus have their own unique characteristics, some more age worthy than others, some unfiltered and full-bodied, some flowery and delicate, there are lots to choose from but look at the labels and if one of the “crus” is noted then try it.
So, if you have ever had the privilege of Nouveau and the headache to go with it, try some of the other Beaujolais wines, they are something to behold and there are loads to choose from.
To help you choose which cru might be best for you, here’s a link to some Wiki information that offers some interesting information on both Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau
Here are a couple of cool Beaujolais to try:
Adnams Beaujolais - from Adnams Cellars / UK
Bouchard Père et Fils Fleurie - from Waitrose Cellars