Sun 18 Nov 2007
… but waited until this morning to quaff a glass of the Georges Duboeuf version for 2007. What’s it like? Whataya think? The color is a winsome cranberry-magenta. The bouquet offers notes of strawberry jam, macerated raspberries and currants and whiffs of cinnamon and clove; the typical banana scent is quite subdued. In the mouth, it’s dry but juicy, with flavors of spicy currants and raspberries. It should be served slightly chilled. How so many writers and reviewers recommend the insubstantial Beaujolais Nouveau for the complicated Thanksgiving feast is beyond me, but tastes differ (unfortunately).
The whole Beaujolais-Nouveau-Third-Thursday-of-November phenomenon is certainly a modern marketing triumph. first engineered by Georges Duboeuf in the 1970s. The frenzy, in which jet airliners transport the stuff to far-flung countries so bottles can be opened at the minute after midnight on the third Thursday of November, boggles the mind. I mean, originally Beaujolais Nouveau was a strictly local ritual, a nice way to celebrate the end of harvest in Beaujolais. That it became a worldwide occurrence is amazing; something like 30 percent of the harvest in Beaujolais now goes into Nouveau.
Signs are not good, however, for the continuation of the Beaujolais Nouveau “tradition.” According to The Tocqueville Connection (here), sales of Beaujolais Nouveau in Japan, the world’s largest market — the Japanese have a keen eye for Western fads — will be off by 20 percent in 2007. Sales of Beaujolais Nouveau in Japan peaked in 2004 at 12.5 million cases; in 2006, sales sagged to 11 million cases; this year, sales are expected to sink to 8.4 millions cases. The case amount is expected to fall in the United States, also (though not as much as in Japan), due to the nasty relationship of the wimpy dollar to the conquering euro.
None of this news dampened the spirits of the annual Trophee Lyon-Beaujolais Nouveau (“the only official competition devoted to Beaujolais Nouveau,” and we’ll let that pass without comment), which on Nov. 11, meeting at the Radisson Hotel in Lyon, passed out 10 Grand Gold Medals, 70 Gold Medals and 23 Silver Medals to this year’s producers of Beaujolais Nouveau. Gosh, did they leave anyone out? Honorary chairman of the tasting, appropriately, was Naoki Watanabe, technical director for Suntory.
Meanwhile, go to KoeppelOnWine.com for reviews of 10 Beaujolais wines from 2006 from the Georges Dubouef stable, one Beaujolais-Villages and nine cru wines from villages allowed to put their names on the labels. They’ll make you forget all about Beaujolais Nouveau. These wines are imported into the United States by W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Harrison N.Y.
Image credits: top, cityfood.com; bottom, lefigaro.fr.