By Mary Mullaj
The fresh 2008 Beaujolais Nouveau hit bars yesterday after a poor harvest in France. Although it was the smallest crop since 1975, the price was not changed from its usual $6 a bottle, in order to keep the festive wine practical. The wine is too light to be considered serious, but its debut in France every year, traditionally the third Thursday in November, is a cause for celebration as appreciators turn out to taste the new wine. Fourty percent of its volume is exported, and Anne Masson, spokeswoman for the Inter-Beajolais wine professionals’ organization, says it is successful abroad because it is an easy wine to drink, sweet and fruity.
Usually The Wall Street Journal recommends one ultra-luxury bottle of wine for the holiday season, but is taking a different tack this year in the spirit of scaling back. They note that even the most wealthy might not want to open a bottle of Montrachet when they want a glass of wine with dinner. So here is their idea for a luxurious holiday gift: a mixed case of Beaujolais. But not the Beaujolais Nouveau, which is usually only drunk one day a year for good reason. Instead, they recommend the “real Beaujolais,” which arrives about a year after the harvest. Its charm resides in the fact that it tastes good (a lot like grapes), it’s refreshing, and it’s very drinkable, many of the reasons that conniseurs became enamored of wine in the first place. The Journal gives some serious guidelines about how to compose the perfect selection of Beaujolais, including wines from the smaller vineyards, cru villages, and even an American winery. For contrast, including an older bottle that has aged well is recommended, as well as the rare and little-known white Beaujolais. This gift that will keep on giving has a variety that will excite even the most jaded wine consumer, and expresses the celebratory spirit of Beaujolais.