Le Beaujolais est Arrivé
Château de Lavernette Beaujolais-Villages 2014
This Thursday marks a controversial day in the wine world: it’s Beaujolais Nouveau Day. A celebration that actually almost permanently damaged the reputation of one of France’s most delicious wine regions. And one of the world’s tastiest grapes (99% of wine from Beaujolais is made from Gamay.)
See, every year, on the third Thursday of November the new Beaujolais are released a couple of months after harvest. These barely fermented wines are not good. Well, they’re not great. They’re not meant to be. They’re just a little bit of fun. They’re confected, fruity little numbers meant for immediate consumption. They’re glou glou on speed.
It all started as a harvest celebration for the winemakers and the farmers and the people of Lyon to enjoy the fruits (lol) of their labours. But in the 1980s George Duboeuf got it into his head to do a bit of marketing, and soon the world was flooded with cheap little bottles of Gamay-based plonk.
And pretty soon after that, the region stopped being taken seriously. Even though it’s always made beautiful wines, some of which can age tremendously and rival those of nearby Burgundy, the better, more typical wines were overshadowed by the Nouveau.
And so it goes.
Except lately, things have been getting better. Lately, people are taking notice of how beautiful and, let’s be frank, how fucking delicious these wines are.
You probably already know I love Gamay. I would happily only drink Gamay if the LCBO would do me a favour and just stock more of it. (Okay, they have some but most of it is fairly basic, plus I like variety.)
So when I see Beaujolais in the Vintages releases, I lunge for them. I hoard them. I drink them all up and I save a few for later.
This one was released this past weekend and I’ve already enjoyed a few bottles. It’s just that good. It’s not even a Cru (Beaujolais is divided into levels: regular Beaujolais at the “bottom”, followed by Beaujolais-Villages, with the 10 Crus at the top – more on that in a later post).Yes, I had a bit of sticker shock: $20 for a Villages-level wine is a tad high (although prices are going up across the board) but it was totally worth it.
It’s alive and fresh and fruity and structured. It’s chuggable, sure, but it’s also been just really lovely to sit with and sip with food. It’s organic, too, and it might even be pretty close to natural (it feels that way, even if it isn’t, it’s just that lively).
And more than that, it punches above its weight – tossing preconceptions out the window. So yes, while I will be drinking some Beaujolais Nouveau later this week, I’m so glad that these wines are pulling themselves out of the shadows and taking up shelf space.
Now, please LCBO, can I have some more?
Nose: Bright red fruits, peach, a hint of pepper, baking spices, and wild flowers.
Palate: That fruit – cherries, strawberries, orchard fruits – just carries on and on buoyed by a lively streak of acidity. It’s peppery and spicy, with soft, plush tannins that mind their own business but remind you this is serious Beauj. It reminds me of everything I love about wine, especially when it's just starting to get a little cold out so I'm hanging onto that summer feeling.