VINTAGE REPORT: BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU HAS IMPROVED A LOT
by Andrew Chalk
Last Thursday was 2019 Beaujolais Nouveau Release Day. The first day that 2019 Beaujolais Nouveau, the quickly vinified and barely aged expression of the gamay grape, could be sold. I have dodged Beaujolais Nouveau release days for a couple of decades after having enthusiastically attended tastings before that. The wines back then were candy-flavored fruit bombs with barely a perfunctory nod to being wine.
Come 2019 and I was invited as a media guest to the George Duboeuf 2019 Beaujolais Nouveau rollout in Texas. Since Les Vins Georges Duboeuf is the largest brand of Beaujolais Nouveau in the U.S., and the CEO would be there, I attended. Albeit not with any great expectations for the wine.
I was wrong. All three variants of the 2019 Beaujolais Nouveau wine (Beaujolais Nouveau, Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau, Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé) are enjoyable, character rich, and especially in the case of the two reds, expressive of the gamay grape.
They are best compared by taking the rosé separately as it is more a rosé than a nouveau wine. Or, put differently, most rosé is nouveau in the sense that it is vinified and released quickly afterwards. This $12.99 rosé is golden sunset in color, fruity in the mouth, and has a good acid backbone. Ideal for quaffing or served with, for example, the Thanksgiving meal.
The two reds, Beaujolais Nouveau ($12.99) and Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau ($14.99) show striking differences. Both have the red fruit, spiciness, and savory character of gamay, but the Villages (for which the grapes must be drawn from 39 specific villages) is much more concentrated. It is a statement about how the Nouveau expression of Beaujolais has matured that these two wines are both correct within their typecasts but different enough to be clearly distinguished.
That said, Beaujolais is for immediate enjoyment and should be neither cellared nor over-analyzed!
If you prefer regular Beaujolais to the nouveau style I tasted and highly recommend 2018 Château des Capitains, Juliénas ($15). A soft, luxurient cru Beaujolais from the Duboeuf stable.
I recommend all of these wines. They are excellent value, especially the Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau. They are widely available in supermarkets and liquor stores and would be an excellent choice for Thanksgiving dinner. Chill for 30 minutes before serving to accentuate the fruitiness.