Friday, 18 November 2011

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrivé!

According to French tradition, every year on the 3rd Thursday of November the Beaujolais Nouveau  hits the store shelves and then the mouths of everyone here in France.

This morning I popped down to our local Carrefour Supermarché to take part in all the fun and I met the  friendly and charming people from the Château Le Père Lagrolle who had set up a large display of their Beaujolais Nouveau.  When I arrived they were mingling with customers and generally turning a small corner of the otherwise serene supermarket into a light-hearted festival with flying corks and generous cups of wine available to any one who happened to walk by.

The launch of the Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to celebrate the end of the growing season and as a way for vintners to calibrate what's happening with their wines early in the fermentation process.  I've always suspected as well, it's a way of bringing some much needed revenue to the Châteaux who produce them. 

The Italians produce something similar called, Vino Novello and other wine producing regions of France produce their own versions although if they're not from Beaujolais and therefore not an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) they are called simply, Vin Nouveau.

If you're a fan of Beaujolais Nouveau, you should  plan a trip to Beaujeau, the capital of the Beaujolais  region in the Rhone.  To celebrate the launch of the Beaujolais Nouveau they host a festival called Sarmentelles on the third Thursday of November.  The festival is named for the French word for branches, sarments, in this case cuttings from grapevine canes.  

No celebration is complete without a big bonfire and piles of sarments are burned in the town square just before the corks are popped and the first glasses of wine are drunk at midnight.

If you've never had Beaujolais Nouveau before you should definitely give it a go but don't expect anything of substance, just lively, perky youthfulness. 

It's best to remember the spirit in which it's offered:  as an unpretentious, light hearted and optimistic celebration of the end of the growing season.


1 comment:

Hannah said...

I'm not much of a drinker, but that sounds pretty good even to me! (And man, what decent prices for wine! My dad mentioned how it was so much cheaper in Europe, and now I can see he wasn't kidding.)