Cheers! Wine Consultants

Another crop of Nouveaus goes in the books

By Dan & Krista Stockman


This column was supposed to run in November. But with the kids and the holidays and the kids and the dogs and the kids, well, things kind of got away from us. And then when we went to publish it, we discovered that the software we've used for years to create and pubish our website was dead - and Apple support for it apparently ended about six years ago. So that left us - at Christmas - trying to find new software, figure out how to use it, and rebuild a website from scratch.

And of course, we didn't want to just re-create our old site, we wanted to keep the parts we loved, fix the parts we didn't, and make the whole thing easier to use. And so, here we are, in January, writing about Beaujolais Nouveau, which was released Nov. 20. Even worse - Nouveau is not meant to age, and is supposed to be drunk by New Year's Day. Sigh.

While regular Beaujolais will age nicely and is great year-round, Nouveau is not meant to age at all, so if you've still got a bottle or two, now's the time to drink them. [And, sadly, you cannot depend on wine stores to respect this – a few weeks ago, we saw a 2013 Nouveau at a very nice wine store, still on the shelf and at full price, a full year after it was considered out of date.]

So how did this year's Nouveau's taste? We found them refreshing and bright, which is what we have come to expect from Nouveau – after all, it's just baby wine, so it shouldn't be a surprise that it tastes fresh and juicy. But what truly set this year apart was that each wine we tasted was unique. Some years, regardless of the maker, the Nouveau tastes fairly similar. This year, each maker put their own mark on the new wine.

The first one we tried was Bouchard Ainé & Fils Beaujolais Nouveau. The first Nouveau of the season is always special. The young, fresh, fruity nose wafts out of the bottle like flowers in one of those air freshener commercials. The Bouchard did not disappoint. The fresh, fruity baby wine smell was invigorating.

And then we tasted it. This wine was everything a Nouveau should be: It was light and airy, while still having a sense of chewy-ness with dark berry flavors. It was a study in contrast. The Bouchard also had a good amount of toasty flavors in it – more toasted yeast than fresh-bread yeast.

Next, we tried the Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Nouveau, which we have nearly every year. It had the typical Nouveau smell of yeast, but the taste was a little more down-to-earth and low key. The flavors were not quite as bright but still a lot of mellow dark berry flavors – think more of a well-ripened blueberry or blackberry than a tart berry. This had more of a full body than many Nouveau, with more mouth feel.

The third Nouveau we tried was Rochette Beaujolais Villages Nouveau (The “villages” in the name means that it comes from a more specific area within the French Beaujolais region, making it higher quality by French standards). This wine was more Beaujolais and less Nouveau. It was definitely a more mature wine, while still some of the typical fun, fresh elements of traditional Nouveau.

Last, we tried the George DuBoeuf, which is the wine that will still be easiest to find [The first three were only available at Wine Time, one of our favorite wine stores and the only one to host a Nouveau release party every year]. This is a wine that is mass-produced and designed to be an easy-drinker. This Nouveau fit the mold perfectly. It's a simpler wine than some of the others. It's young and fruity but without a lot of complexity.

Some critics frown upon the Nouveau tradition, saying the wine is not serious enough and the entire thing is about marketing hype. Some of that may be true, but we also believe wine should be fun, and Nouveau is all about fun.

We also believe wine should be accessible to everyone, and Nouveau is a wine that we've found almost everyone likes – which is why we like it so much for holidays, especially when we have guests who may not like dry red wines the way we do.

So if you haven't already, get out there and grab a few bottles of Nouveau, but enjoy them right away. And while you're sipping, check out our new website and see what you think.