If you follow various wine shops and bars on Instagram then last Thursday you may have seen numerous posts in big capital letters stating ‘BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU EST ARRIVE!’ with a photo of a store clerk doing a cheesy pose with a bottle of wine, or an artsy snap of a bottle.
Wine retailers will regularly post pictures on Instagram of their latest items of stock but last Thursday 99% of retailers and wine bars will have ordered in some Beaujolais Nouveau and got a bit excited about it as it was Beaujolais Nouveau day. Every third Thursday of November the latest vintage from the Beaujolais is released all over the globe in a kind of celebration for the latest season/marketing gimmick. Either way, everyone gets a bit excited.
There are many reasons to love Beaujolais Nouveau day and the reason why I like it is simple. I like the fact that the wine that is in my glass on that day was a bunch of grapes on a vine merely two months before. No matter how good or bad the wine is, it makes me happy to think that the winemakers in Beaujolais have managed to get something out of their season and have a quick return on it.
There are many reasons to not like Beaujolais Nouveau day too. Some people would argue that the wine can’t be good after so little time ageing and it is clearly just a marketing ploy to get people to buy Beaujolais wine.
I personally embrace it fully and look forward to it, however I have good and bad memories of it. These good and bad memories came in one night. When working in France, we bought a few cases of Beaujolais Nouveau in to the bar and fully embraced the day. I conveniently finished early that night and stuck around for a couple of glasses, then went to the bar down the road and had a couple of glasses, then went to my friend’s bar and had a few more glasses… of beer. Then got on my bike to cycle home and realised that I was way to drunk to ride my bike, walked to the tram stop and saw the last tram of the night go past. What was I to do? Do I chain my bike up and call an Uber? Or do I go back to my friend’s bar and carry on drinking until the first tram of the morning turns up? … I think you know what the outcome was. I’ve only ever had a two-day hangover twice in my life and that night was the cause of one of them. On the second day of the hangover I was on the coach to Paris to meet two friends for our annual Guinness night and Guinness was the last thing on my mind, not throwing up on a coach again was my biggest priority. It was rough, very rough.
Anyway, back to the article.
In a city like London, there are a lot of people who will look forward to Beaujolais Nouveau day and plenty of bars that do big events to celebrate it, but in Sheffield there’s not much call for it, so I was overjoyed when ‘Table’, the natural wine bar at newly opened Cutlery Works venue in the Neepsend area of the city ordered some in.
I ventured down, took up a pew, ordered some cheese and Leah (the lady who runs the bar) poured me a glass. Here’s a little run down of the wine and wine maker.
This was a Beaujolais 2018 from Cuvee Keke and made from 100% Gamay (like all Beaujolais). This bottle was from the Morgon area of the region. The grapes were harvested by hand over only 1.2 hectares, went through carbonic maceration and spent five weeks in used oak. To put it into perspective of just how young this wine is, their normal vintages spend five months in oak before being transferred to the bottle.
The Gamay grape normally produces wine, which is normally light in taste and this particular wine was no different. It was very light and had an extremely soft finish. It lacked complexity but that is to be expected with a wine this young. There were a few flavours present and it had subtle tannin. In essence, it was classic expression of Beaujolais.
Aroma-wise, I’m always shit at this. This is my weakest aspect of reviewing wines because I have a preconception of what they should taste/smell like and find it hard to smell anything else. However, in my opinion there was a strong aroma of blackcurrant and a slight hint of vanilla that I attributed to the short time it had spent in oak. My girlfriend came to join me and brought our dog ‘Geoff’ along so she also got a glass. Weirdly, she said she could smell lipstick. I personally didn’t get it but I don’t really know what lipstick smells like but it was nice to see someone just having fun and being honest about what they could smell.
The texture and mouth-feel was very smooth. It left a bit of a pleasant acidic taste on the finish. The finish itself was short, but I can imagine that as time goes on and this wine matures, the finish will become longer and the wine itself will evolve in complexity. I’d even hazard an educated guess and say it would start peaking in about 4-5 years.
This was my first Beaujolais Nouveau day in Sheffield. Well, I tell a lie, as I was in Sheffield last year but didn’t have a drop of it. It is really encouraging to see the variety of wine and wine bars in Sheffield at the moment and I’m just glad I got to try to new natural Beaujolais!
– J A M E S