The third Thursday of every November is when humble gamay is on display.
Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivée! This unique annual event is when many folks around the globe get their only taste of gamay for the year. And sadly, it's the baby-fresh Bojo Novo that impresses on their memory. This youthful wine is speedily made from grapes harvested just weeks prior, barely through carbonic fermentation in stainless steel, before being bottled and expedited by air to markets everywhere (with a bullet train to Japan, today Beaujolais Nouveau's biggest and most enthusiastic market).
Nouveau is a marvel not replicated. Yes – in many winemaking regions vintners will celebrate the harvest and toast the workers with a splash of wine made from the just-passed harvest. But the Beaujolais took it much bigger than that in the 1970’s with mega negociant, self-proclaimed “King of Beaujolais”Georges Duboeuf, creating the market for his just-finished wines to the rest of France. Duboeuf coined the term Nouveau (new), and with the draw for all things Francophile and chic, Beaujolais Nouveau was a massive success. In America it was touted as the perfect Thanksgiving wine – the timing is incredible, non? The light, fruity, candied, low tannin red was easy-drinking, not complicated, and relatively inexpensive – all tempting for a maturing wine audience.
Of course, we all know that gamay is a serious, characterful and charming grape, and when handled with care and attention can produce striking and age-worthy wines. One just need look at Cru Beaujolais for proof of this. In advance of Beaujolais Nouveau, I've selected 10 gamay wines between Beaujolais and Canada that are worthy of cracking and celebrating with, as well as cellaring.