11/28/05 – Beaujolais

By Jesse on November 28, 2005


I hope all of you had a satisfactory Thanksgiving. I certainly did. One of the highlights was a nice little bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau that we drank with dinner. Although for all intensive purposes I still consider myself pretty hopeless with regard to pairing wine with food, at the very least I know what tastes good. And this definitely did.

The Beaujolais (pronounced Bo-sho-lay) region in France is considered part of the Burgandy region for administrative purposes, but it has its own history and produces very different wines from the Pinor Noir that the rest of Burgandy is known for. Beaujolais is a red wine made from the Gamay grape; it’s light, drinkable, and very fruity. There are two variations that you’ll want to look for when you’re buying your bottle. First is Beaujolais-Villages (prounced like “mirage,” rather than “village” or “pillage,” and the “s” is silent). The Beaujolais-Villages designation means that the wine contained therein comes from one of 39 villages in Beaujolais that the French authorities have designated as superior to the rest of the region (allegedly signifying higher quality). The other, particularly significant at this time of the year, is Beaujolais Nouveau (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaujolais_nouveau for those who are interested). The significance of Nouveau (pronounced noo-voe) is that this Beaujolais was produced for immediate consumption, right after being harvested. These will be the first samples of 2005 wine that we’ve tried.

Beaujolais Nouveau is very popular around Thanksgiving since it’s officially released on the third Thursday of November, which usually coincides with the holiday’s arrival. When selecting your bottle, please feel free to pick either a standard Beaujolais, a Beaujolais-Villages, or a Beaujolais Nouveau (or a combination thereof, like a Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau). They’re all made from the Gamay grape.

Beaujolais is the first wine we’re going to taste that gets its name from a region, rather than from the grape it’s made of. However, we decided at the last meeting that we’re going to hold off on tasting region-named wines until after the new year, just so that we can finish up the remaining major varietals (wines named after their grape) over the next couple weeks. Therefore, in addition to tasting Beaujolais wines tomorrow evening, we’ll throw open the session to any and all wines made from the Gamay grape. There are some good Gamay examples from this side of the ocean as well, so if you don’t see any Beaujolais that piques your interest, bring a bottle of Gamay (often called Gamay Noir in America).

For those who haven’t been to our little enclave in Sherman Oaks, the address is (nice try) #4, which is in 91423. It’s in between Ventura and Moorpark, near Coldwater Canyon. Walk around the right side of the house and up the stairs. There’s usually plenty of street parking. We have a shit-ton of wine glasses, so no need to bring your own. Just bring your bad selves and any articles you may have found about Beaujolais. Also, some funny anecdotes would be good. Here’s mine:

During my sophomore year at Ithaca, I had a class in political theory. This class was required to get into the higher level classes, so some of the kids weren’t all that excited to be there, or maybe they were just kind of stupid. One day we’re discussing Marx, and the professor is asking us to elaborate on Marx’s opinion of the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. One of these unmotivated kids raises his hands and starts talking kind of ungrammatically about Marx, and the “poor people,” and how they would eventually rise up and revolt against the Beaujolais.

True story. Anybody who has a better one gets to drink out of the magnum glass all night. See y’all at 9 PM on Tuesday.