Beaujolais Nouveau- The Natural Stuff
THE THIRD THURSDAY IN NOVEMBER
Every year, the third Thursday of November rolls around and is met with an interesting spectrum of reactions.
Abject indifference? Plenty.
What might be reasonably called over-excitement? Certainly.
And let’s not forget about, in some instances, downright derision!
If you move in wine-circles (and if you are reading this, you probably do), you will know that it is
BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU DAY!
How should our personal approach to it be best characterised? Hmm, previously we’ve settled on: Slightly Reluctant Participation.
In particular, Rob, owner of Buon Vino, doesn’t usually shy away from expressing his dislike of the fanfare. However, he has been swayed recently, with the discovery of one Beaujolais Nouveau in particular: That of Domaine Lapalu. In fact, it’s such a great example, we are not only stocking it in the shop, and opening it to taste in the shop next Thursday, and organising orders for delivery on THE DAY… We are even writing a whole blog post about it!
AND, SO, WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?
Beaujolais Nouveau is bottled only 6-8 weeks after the grapes are harvested and it's pinky-purple hues reflect such youth. Virtually free of astringent tannin, it's a bright, fresh and fruity wine that is simply made to be guzzled.
The tradition of Beaujolais Nouveau Day dates back to at least the 1800s, with the festivities beginning at 12.01am- the time at which it becomes legal each year to release the wine. It was traditionally used to celebrate the year's vintage, both to mark the end of the rather exhausting work of harvest, but also as a wine that could be drunk in local cafes and bars in the same year that those grapes were harvested. But over a period of time, the wine itself and its release became the subject of the celebration, rather than the vehicle for it!
. During the 1950s and 1960s, Beaujolais Nouveau's popularity grew when the fashionable citizens of Paris started to drink the wine. A quest began amongst merchants to be the first to get the wine there, and this competition then spread to various markets across the world. In addition, there was a departure from the old fashioned classic labels to brighter and more cheerful ones. At the same time, the impression that these were wines to be drunk, rather than assessed and critiqued, added to the allure. Even those that don't have a great deal of time for the drink itself, may struggle to deny there is something intoxicating about the revelry around it.
Jean-Claude Lapalu is defined by the distinctiveness of the wines he produces. Old vines, farmed with minimal intervention, allowing the grapes to express their full potential and give the most comprehensive expression of their terroir. Biodynamic methods are utilised and he works according to strict organic principles, with no sulphur dioxide used until miniscule quantities are employed at bottling.
Jean-Claude Lapalu is a third-generation winemaker but only began his own domaine in 1996. Previously, his family had been grape growers selling to the cooperative. Initially he perhaps didn't have a clear idea of the wines he wanted to make, only an idea of those that he did not. It took him over 5 years to rid the vineyard of the additives and interventions he'd learned about at the wine school he attended in Carentay.
But those years of persistence have paid off and Lapalu produces simply stand-out natural, Nouveau and Cru Beaujolais that are simply not to be missed.
So, what happened this year, in the region? Well, the vintage in Beaujolais began well, with a distinctly mild start to the year, kick-starting vine-growth and providing excellent conditions for flowering, with little concern for frost. This provided similar circumstances to 2022, whereby the early start allowed for early harvesting, meaning that versus '21, for example, there has been the potential for almost an extra month of elevage before the bottling of this year's Nouveau.
As the vintage progressed, and harvest approached, Beaujolais growers discussed one thing; rain. Or rather, the distinct lack of it. The further south the vineyards in Beaujolais, the less rain they received. In some cases this did affect younger vines and reduced berry size somewhat. However, countering this issue, the contrast of daytime heat and much cooler nights, helped provide balance within the wines, particularly with regard to those floral aromatics, and providing a ripe fruit character that is warm, but not hot.
In the particular case of Lapalu's Nouveau, the sturdy old vines withstood the droughty late summer with ease, and we are presented with a beautifully balanced, vibrant wine. A great depth of flavour and a little framing structure, without being drying, bursting with floral aromatics and ripe cherry. This really is once again Nouveau with a difference.
... In celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau Day this year!
Place your orders online and we will ship in time for delivery on Thursday 16th November!
Alternatively, pop into the shop and grab your bottles(s) ready for the big day!