November 19th … Save the date! Every year the Beaujolais wine region in eastern France and, more specifically the town of Beaujeu, celebrate the release of the year’s new batch of the world-famous Beaujolais Nouveau wine.
Beaujolais Nouveau is made with hand-picked purpley-blue coloured Gamay grape and released in the same year that it was harvested (hence the name ‘Nouveau’). It takes just 6-8 weeks for the grapes to be harvested and bottled and so must be drunk pretty quickly. Most of the vintage should be consumed by the following May, although in especially good years, such as 2000, the wine has a slightly longer shelf life.
Also, There are many other good wines from the region including the more mature Beaujolais-Villages and Fleurie with deeper, more complex flavours and shelf lives.
Beaujolais Nouveau is one of the few wines in the world produced, bottled and released in only a matter of weeks, thanks to a wine-making technique known as carbonic maceration, says wine tour operator Smooth Wines. The wine is red, bright, fruity and usually (quite unusually) served chilled.
The vintners of Beaujeu release their produce at exactly 12:01am on the third Thursday of November, an occasion is marked with live music, wine tastings, fireworks and all-night festivities.
This year, Smooth Wine is promoting a two night wine experience that includes entry to this world famous festival plus two days of in-depth tours and tastings, with accommodation in a beautiful château.
There are dozens of vineyards producing this wine across Beaujolais, home to over 4,000 vineyards. With over 120 different festivals held across the region around launch time including a 12-variety tasting competition in which the winner takes home their weight in wine! It’s an exciting place to be in November.
How to drink Beaujolais
Beaujolais Nouveau and Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau wines are best enjoyed at 12°C, the optimal temperature for a perfect tasting.
While the more mature wines Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages should be served, after nouveau wines, at 13/14°C, a degree that pays tribute to the aromatic wealth of the Gamay grape.
The Beaujolais Crus are suited to serving at an average of 16°C, this may be lowered slightly, to around 15°C, for a one or two year old Cru, or conversely served slightly higher for a wine that is three to five years old (17°C is perfectly acceptable).
Like for any living, tasty product, Beaujolais wines should be handled with care. Though they like fresh temperatures, it’s better to avoid the use of the fridge and its 4°C: that kills the flavours. Of course, there’s nothing better than a cellar or a cool place to keep your wine. The ideal thing to do is to chambré your bottles of wine for an hour before the meal so that you don’t serve the wine at too low a temperature, while decanting a wine or serving it by the glass tends to warm it further.
CHICKEN STEW IN A MOULIN-À-VENT SAUCE
1 Bresse (free range) chicken • 45g butter
90g of thickly cut bacon
Handful of small onions/ shallots
1 clove of garlic
Morels or mushrooms
50cl of Beaujolais Nouveau wine
cornflour, table spoon.
Cut the chicken at the joints into 6 pieces. Cut the bacon and the small onions and brown in 45g of butter in a glazed earthenware casserole.
When they are slightly browned, add the pieces of chicken, the crushed clove of garlic, the mixed herbs and the morels or mushrooms into the casserole.
Cook until golden over a high heat then take the lid off and remove the excess fat.
Then pour the wine over all the contents.
After having cooked the dish over a high heat, take out the chicken and cover it with the sauce, if necessary thickened with some cornflour.