Beaujolais nouveau

Beaujolais nouveau (/ˌbʒəlˈ nuˈv/; French pronunciation: ​[bo.ʒɔ.lɛ nu.vo]) is a red wine made from Gamay grapes produced in the Beaujolais region of France. It is the most popular vin de primeur, fermented for just a few weeks before being released for sale on the third Thursday of November. It is famous for races by distributors to get the first bottles to different markets around the globe.[1]

Beaujolais nouveau
Beaujolais nouveau wine.jpg


Vineyards in the Beaujolais wine region located just south of Burgundy.

Beaujolais had always made a vin de l'année to celebrate the end of the harvest, but until World War II it was only for local consumption. Once the Beaujolais AOC was established in 1937, AOC rules meant that Beaujolais wine could only be officially sold after 15 December in the year of harvest.[2] These rules were relaxed in November 1951,[2] and the Union Interprofessionnelle des Vins du Beaujolais (UIVB) formally set 15 November as the release date for what would henceforth be known as Beaujolais nouveau.

Some members of the UIVB saw the potential for marketing Beaujolais nouveau by capitalising on fast distribution of the vintage, starting with a race to get the first bottles to Paris. In the 1960's, races from English clubs rewarded the drivers who returned the quickest with the most wine (sometimes resulting in spare tyres being left in Beaujolais). There continued to be more media coverage, and by the 1970s it had become a national event.

In 1972, New York was the only US city to import Beaujolais nouveau. In 1972, Minneapolis became the second US city to import it; now, it is available in most US metropolis areas.

The races spread to neighbouring countries in Europe in the 1980s, followed by North America, and in the 1990s to Asia.[2] In 1985, the date was changed to the third Thursday in November to take best advantage of marketing in the following weekend.

The wine used to be released from France at 12:01 on the third Thursday of November. It then shifted to being shipped ahead of time, and released to local markets at 12:01 a.m. local time. Today, it is sent to retailers ahead of the third Thursday, with instruction not to sell it until the third Thursday.

Means of transport have allegedly included elephant, Concorde, and a hot-air balloon. Multiple air shipping companies have online articles about how they arrange the air shipments, starting in late October. [3].


The Gamay grape used to produce Beaujolais nouveau.

Beaujolais nouveau is made from the Gamay noir à Jus blanc grape, better known simply as Gamay. The grapes must come from the Beaujolais AOC, with those of the ten "cru" appellations excluded. They are grown in "stony, schistous soils".[4] Both Beaujolais Nouveau and Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau are produced; the latter comes from the ~ 30 non-cru villages in the region. Nouveau's production is about 25% of overall production in Beaujolais. As of 2017, there are 2000 producers producing 27.5 million cases from 4,000 vineyards, with 40% exported from France.[5]

By law, all grapes in the region must be harvested by hand. The wine is made using carbonic maceration,[4] whole berry anaerobic fermentation which emphasizes fruit flavors without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins. Grapes are loaded and sealed into a large (on the order of 20,000-U.S.-gallon (76,000 L)) sealed container that is filled with carbon dioxide. Grapes that are gently crushed at the bottom of the container by the weight of the grapes start to ferment, emitting more CO2. All this carbon dioxide causes fermentation to take place inside the uncrushed grapes (without access to oxygen, hence "anaerobic fermentation"). The resulting wine is fresh, fruity, and very low in tannins.

Part of the success of Beaujolais Nouveau is due to the Gamay grape - it can easily make this very straightforward wine and make more complex wines. Most other red wine grapes would not easily make nouveau-style wines."[6]


Evolution of Duboeuf nouveau labels over time

This "Beaujolais Day" is accompanied by publicity events and heavy advertising. The traditional slogan, even in English-speaking countries, was "Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!" (literally, "The new Beaujolais has arrived!"), but in 2005 this was changed to "It's Beaujolais Nouveau Time!". In the United States, it is promoted as a drink for Thanksgiving, which always falls exactly one week after the wine is released (on the fourth Thursday of November).

As of 2014, there were over 100 Beaujolais Nouveau-related festivals held in the Beaujolais region. The most famous festival, Les Sarmentelles, was held in Beaujeu, the capital of the region, and lasted for days. The winner of the annual tasting contest won their weight in wine. [7]

Many producers release the nouveau with colourful or abstract design that changes every year, usually as an evolution from the previous year's design. Duboeuf has silk ties made each year with their label's abstract design, and releases them through select wholesalers and distributors.


Beaujolais nouveau wine

Beaujolais nouveau is a purple-pink wine reflecting its youth, bottled only 6–8 weeks after harvest. The method of production means that there is very little tannin, and the wine can be dominated by such fruity ester flavours as banana, grape, strawberry, fig and pear drop. The wine is recommended to be slightly chilled to 13 °C (55 °F).

Beaujolais nouveau is intended for immediate drinking. While some nouveau can be kept for a few years, there is no real reason to, as it does not improve with age. For comparison, standard Beaujolais AOC wines are released the following year and can be stored for one or more years before consuming. The wines show definite variation between vintages, and as such are considered to be an early indicator of the quality of the year's regional wine harvest.

For a period around the late 1990s some wine critics criticized Beaujolais nouveau as simple or immature. For example, wine critic Karen MacNeil wrote that "Drinking it gives you the same kind of silly pleasure as eating cookie dough."[8] Another wine critic, Robert M. Parker, Jr., disagreed, calling those opinions "ludicrous" and describing the better vintages as "delicious, zesty, exuberant, fresh, vibrantly fruity" wines.[4] According to Julien Gobert, an oenologist who worked in the Bordeaux region, "It is a proper wine and it's not actually that easy to produce. It's quite a challenge getting it right." [7]

Similar winesEdit

The commercial success of Beaujolais nouveau led to the development of other "primeur" wines in other parts of France, such as the Gaillac AOC near Toulouse. These wines are typically released on the third Thursday of November, just like their counterparts in Beaujolais. The practice has spread to other wine producing countries such as Italy ("Vino Novello"), Spain ("vino joven"), Czech Republic ("Svatomartinské víno") and the US ("nouveau wine").

In the United States, a number of vintners have produced Nouveau-style wines, using various grapes such as Gamay, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Pinot noir, and even Riesling. There is also movement in the US of making nouveau wines in homage of the French Glou Glou wine movement and in homage of Beaujolais nouveau [9].

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Parkinson, Justin (20 November 2014). "Is Beaujolais Nouveau making a comeback?". BBC News magazine.
  2. ^ a b c "It's Beaujolais Nouveau Time!". Union Interprofessionnelle des Vins du Beaujolais. Archived from the original (Flash) on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 14 October 2007. Warning - plays music by default
  3. ^ "Beaujolais Nouveau day 10 facts about the wine" (Flash). Telegraph. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Parker, Robert M.; Rovani, Pierre-Antoine (2002). Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide. Simon & Schuster. p. 414. ISBN 9780743229319.
  5. ^ "The Beaujolais Nouveau, a marketing question". Euronews IT. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  6. ^ Rudolph Chelminski, I'LL DRINK TO THAT: Beaujolais Nouveau Gotham. 2007
  7. ^ a b "Beaujolais nouveau celebrates 60th with vintage year". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  8. ^ Karen MacNeil, The Wine Bible Workman Publishing Company, Inc. 2001, pg. 225
  9. ^ "American Winemakers embrace Beaujolais nouveau style young wine". QZ. Retrieved 15 November 2018.

External linksEdit