TODAY – the third Thursday in November – sees the release of Beaujolais Nouveau.
Some of you may remember the madness of the 70s and 80s when charity dashes from France to the UK were the norm – people desperate to be the first in their home town clutching a bottle of the red juice.
The wine – best served lightly chilled – is produced every year from the Gamay grapes grown in the Beaujolais region of Burgundy just a matter of weeks after the grapes have been picked. Initially it was a way of celebrating the local harvest – but slowly the celebrations spread out from France to become a global phenomenon.
But overproduction – after all it is a money-spinner – unreliable quality and even court cases have all led to a cloud hovering over Nouveau. UK wine drinkers now expect better quality and the Beaujolais region itself is actively trying to improve its image.
Jon Atkinson from Scatchards wine merchants on Great Howard Street, explains: “The style of Nouveau is light, vibrant and fruity – perfect for serving lightly chilled and as such quite palatable of a morning – and so the Beaujolais breakfast became very popular.”
But Beaujolais Nouveau used to be massive, so what went wrong?
Says Jon: “In my view it was a combination of factors. I don’t believe that Nouveau was ever intended to be taken all that seriously – it was just a bit of fun but as the price started to creep up questions were increasingly raised about its validity.
“For me though, what I think really did for Nouveau was the decision to relax the day on which is could be released; it still cannot be ‘sold’ until the 3rd Thursday in November but in order to accommodate the supermarkets’ desire for a slice of the action incorporating their logistical requirements, these days Beaujolais Nouveau is here in the UK well before the release date.
“This completely negated the Beaujolais run, effectively taking the fun and romance out of it, replacing is with an exercise in logistics.
“Given that most supermarkets don’t even bother with it anymore, I wonder whether we’ll ever go back to the days of the Beaujolais run?
“Personally I doubt it, much though I would welcome its return.”
Scatchards has pre-orders for Nouveau and may have some left for general sale. Contact 0151 207 1134.
Also from Burgundy … Waitrose (www.waitrose.com) has some good whites on offer to December 4.
Esprit de Chablis Premier Cru is 25% off from £15.99 to £11.99. It has been made exclusively for Waitrose by the Cave des Vignerons de Chablis and is a classic of its style, with dry apples on the nose. To taste – apples and citrus sharpened by smoky slate and a dash of premier cru elegance.
Cave de Buxy Montagny 1er Cru is reduced from £14.99 to £9.99. A good premier cru chardonnay from the Côte Châlonnaise village of Montagny, the source of some great value wines. The wine shows citrus and melon fruit flavours and an attractive round, smooth texture.
Meursault Laboure-Roi 2010 is down from £23.99 to £17.99 has good body and soft acidity, is buttery and nutty with a chewy bite of honeyed stone fruit.
Also ... Morrisons has launched its new wine website www.morrisonscellar.com which has a DIY taste test. I’m waiting to see if the wines pre-determined by a click of a mouse suit me. My profile is defined as “smooth” though my friends may disagree.