56 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 77 PART 1 JANUARY 2019
Despite having a mixed reputation at best (even some French consider it
imbuvable—undrinkable), there are some 25 million bottles of Beaujolais
Nouveau produced each year. Several million head off to North America
and some seven million are shipped to Japan where the thirst for Nouveau
is immense, particularly at the country’s wine spas, where people simultaneously
drink and bathe in swimming pools full of it. What that does to the
aromas and bouquet I cannot (and do not want to) imagine, though I am
sure it is more imbuvable than ever. But it also shows what good marketing
can do, and certain Beaujolais producers—most notably Georges Duboeuf
(nicknamed le roi du Beaujolais or sometimes le Pape du Beaujolais), who has
since the 1970s been largely responsible for all the Beaujolais Nouveau
hype—are masters of marketing.
euronews, “Japanese Wine Lovers Take a Bath in Beaujolais Nouveau” (November 17, 2016), online:
Beaujolais Nouveau is a primeur, a young wine that is produced quickly.
It is on the shelves between six to eight weeks after the grapes are harvested.
The short time span means winemakers must use fast-acting yeasts
and special techniques to speed up the fermentation process. The most
common technique is carbonic maceration, where whole clusters of grapes
are fermented before being crushed so that most of the juice is already
turned to wine at crush. This reduces the tannins and makes the wine more
palatable when very young.
Fortunately for you, by the time this article is published in January 2019,
the 2018 Nouveau will no longer litter the liquor store shelves. Not that I am
prejudiced, but while Nouveau gets all the headlines, it is far from the best
wine made in the Beaujolais region. Somewhere between a third and onehalf
of the Beaujolais’ vineyards are dedicated to producing Beaujolais Nouveau.
The rest of the area is used for making Beaujolais AOC,
Beaujolais-Villages AOC and Cru Beaujolais—the highest category of wine,
where often the name Beaujolais will not even appear on the bottle. Instead