Beaujolais Nouveau Has Landed

By Robert Whitley

November 24, 2020 7 min read

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the 2020 Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived. The official release date was Nov. 19.

Just as Pilgrims gathered to celebrate the bounty of harvest, the French have a long tradition of celebrating the end of the wine harvest by drinking the so-called vin de primeur, young wines from that year's harvest that have only recently finished fermentation.

In the 1800s, the nouveau was served by simply dipping pitchers into the barrels. The release of nouveau wines, specifically Beaujolais, has evolved into a worldwide phenomenon. The French government permits a number of AOC wines to be produced nouveau and sets the date for their release.

The embrace of the Beaujolais Nouveau release as an event in the United States is somewhat recent, and much of its popularity is a result of tireless promotion by the late Georges Duboeuf, who passed away earlier this year. Duboeuf Beaujolais is ubiquitous throughout the U.S., with its attractive and innovative packaging, and its broad selection of everything from nouveau to AOC Beaujolais to Beaujolais Villages to Beaujolais Crus.

No matter your preference in Beaujolais, you can likely find what you are looking for under one of those flowery Duboeuf labels.

I recently had the opportunity to taste three Duboeuf nouveau releases from the 2020 harvest and am pleased to report all three — a rose, an AOC Beaujolais and a Beaujolais Villages — delivered decisively. They were fresh, clean, grapey and pure. No, they aren't wines for the ages. They weren't meant to be. The goal is a celebration of another cycle of nature completed with satisfying results.

And, yes, these wines go beautifully with roast turkey and all the trimmings!

Georges Duboeuf 2020 Beaujolais Rose Nouveau, France ($16.99) — Fresh and crisp with intense aromas of strawberry and raspberry, this fruit-driven Beaujolais is juicy and succulent with a long finish. Rating: 88.

Georges Duboeuf 2020 Beaujolais Nouveau AOC, France ($10.99) — Grapey, dark and intense, it has good body weight and density. Rating: 88.

Georges Duboeuf 2020 Beaujolais Nouveau Villages, France ($14.99) — With hints of violets, the wine is somewhat spicy with notes of raspberry and blueberry. Rating: 90.

Tasting Notes

Wines are rated on a 100-point scale. Wines are chosen for review because they represent outstanding quality or value, and the scores are simply a measure of this reviewer's enthusiasm for the recommended wine.

Bruno Paillard Rose Premiere Cuvee, Champagne, France ($86) — This multi-vintage extra brut rose is classic Paillard, and by that I mean it is the personification of elegance. Add to that the flamboyance of Bruno the man and you have a remarkable Champagne with a touch of attitude. For example, the technical sheet for this cuvee simply states that the blend is a first pressing of "mainly" pinot noir. There's a bit of chardonnay as well, the amount of which "remains secret." Pale, almost onion skin in color, the Premiere Cuvee shows subtle red fruits, a fine mousse and astonishing length on the finish. Rating: 96.

Adami Vigneto Giardino 2018 Dry Prosecco, Rive di Colbertaldo, Valdobbiadene DOCG, Italy ($21) — This is that rare single-vineyard vintage Prosecco from Italy's most prestigious Prosecco district, the hilly Valdobbiadene region. As you might expect, it is very dry and elegant, seamless on the palate with a very fine, creamy mousse. It shows refined aromas of peach and apple with impressive length on the palate. What you might not expect is the price. It doesn't cost a fortune and is truly one of the best values in sparkling wine this holiday season. Rating: 95.

Morgan 2018 Syrah, Double L Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands ($44) — Best known for its chardonnay and pinot noir, Morgan often surprises with a stunning syrah. The 2018 from Double L Vineyard is a brilliant wine that offers layers of blueberry and blackberry, a touch of smoked game, and a delightful scent of white pepper and violets. It's complex, seamless and ready to drink now. Rating: 94.

Chappellet 2018 Mountain Cuvee, Napa County ($32) — The Chappellet family has a long and distinguished history with cabernet sauvignon, and its winemaker, Phillip Corallo-Titus, is one of the best in the biz. The Mountain Cuvee, a red Bordeaux-style blend, plays off of both strengths and does so at a modest price, though I suspect the price has something to do with the fact that it's a Napa County blend as opposed to a Napa Valley blend. Leaning heavily on cabernet sauvignon (44%), this vintage exhibits ripe aromas of blackberry and cassis, exceptional density and palate weight, and supple tannins that are beginning to round out and soften. Rating: 91.

Elena Walch 2018 Pinot Grigio, Castel Ringberg, Alsto Adige ($21) — Walch has long been one of the top producers in the Alto Adige region between the northern Italian city of Verona and the Austrian border. Her Castel Ringberg pinot grigio is fresh and crisp, shows aromas of pear and white pepper, is beautifully balanced, and is indicative of the style and quality of pinot grigio made in the shadows of the Alps. Rating: 91.

Markham 2017 The Altruist, Napa Valley ($29) — Winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls has achieved what some would have thought nearly impossible, crafting a red Bordeaux-style blend from the Napa Valley that is not only delicious but also priced below $30. This is a merlot-centric wine, though cabernet sauvignon, malbec, cabernet franc and petit verdot all play a role. Juicy and full-bodied on the palate, it shows complex layers of red and black fruits, a touch of wood spice and excellent palate weight with a long finish. Rating: 91.

Follow Robert on Twitter at @wineguru. To find out more about Robert Whitley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at Email Robert at [email protected]

Photo credit: congerdesign at Pixabay

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