Every year, the third Thursday of November is known as the Beaujolais Nouveau Day. This is a (marketing?) concept that was created in 1951 to push wine sales just a few weeks following harvest. During the 1970’s, Beaujolais Nouveau became a major national event in France and soon in many other countries around the world - Japanese are simply crazy about it!
Is Beaujolais Nouveau really a wine worth drinking?
Well if you ask us, not really! It’s more a marketing tool than a good wine and over the years it might have harmed the Beaujolais region more than it helped. Many people only think about Beaujolais Nouveau and its banana flavours, ignoring that the region does produce very good wines - particularly from crus like Fleurie, Brouilly or Moulin-à-Vent.
How does Beaujolais Nouveau taste and compare with other Beaujolais wines?
There are many different opinions on this and some wine experts would say it tastes like an unfinished wine, whereas others might enjoy the easy-drinking, fresh and fruity side of the Beaujolais Nouveau. It definitely has lots of fruit and very little tannins - they are bottled only 6 to 8 weeks after harvest - and often show a pronounced taste of banana and/or strawberry. It will never aged well and certainly not improve even after a few years in the bottle!
Is it getting better or worse every year?
While the quality of Beaujolais Nouveau seems to have improved a lot in the recent years, sales have been dropping and we have seen a change in the way local winemakers are use it as a marketing tool. Better quality, higher price - it used to retail for less than €4 in France and it’s now around €5 to €7 - but also less volume. In a sense it’s what we have seen in many other wine regions in France over the last 2 decades: less but better.
It is ok to drink it anyway!
One thing is certain about the Beaujolais Nouveau: it’s a great excuse to go out and every bistro in France is - and must be - planning a Beaujolais Nouveau night on the release date. It is just a shame that it is not to celebrate a slightly better wine!
This being said, if you are going to a Beaujolais Nouveau event just remember that it is a night to enjoy and not a wine tasting… otherwise you might never attend another wine tasting in the future!