The predominant grape variety in Beaujolais is Gamay, which is responsible for the best-drink-young Beaujolais Nouveau. So why is this variety chosen to make Beaujolais Nouveau? And how do people celebrate this festive occasion?
Image provided by BIVB / MUZARD J.P.
Gamay is perhaps the easiest-drinking of all grape varieties. By using the distinctive carbonic maceration (or whole berry fermentation) method, winemakers in Beaujolais are able to preserve the naturally refreshing juiciness of Gamay and only extract very light tannins. Carbonic maceration is also responsible for a variety of aromas and flavours ranging from bubble-gum, banana to strawberry and cherry. Gamay wines made in this style are low in alcohol (about 10%), light in tannin and rich in fruitiness, which makes them suitable to drink young and fresh.
Beaujolais Nouveau is mostly produced in generic Beaujolais Nouveau AC and Beaujolais Village AC. The higher-quality Beaujolais Crus wines are not allowed to be sold in this early-drinking style.
Beaujolais Nouveau is traditionally released on the third Thursday in November after the vintage at midnight. The release of Beaujolais Nouveau is one of the most widely enjoyed wine celebrations in the world. Drinking Beaujolais Nouveau used to be popular in Europe, however in recent years its popularity has faded in countries like France and the UK and is now being embraced by Japan and the US.
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