At one minutes past midnight on the third Thursday in November, all in Beaujolais are awake sending over a million cases of Nouveau off to Paris before it is shipped all the way around the world. This is a strange ritual only seen in this part of France, and by the time it is over, more than 65 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau will have been drunk globally. Locally there are races to see who can be the first to serve this newly made wine, and this sees cars, motorbikes and aircraft employed to get it to it's final destination. Just a few weeks prior to this, grapes were still hanging on their vines and the local vignerons were preparing for harvest.
Georges Duboeuf is the largest producer in Beaujolais and he alone will produce 4 million bottles and works tirelessly to promote it around the world - and it is down to him that this one time local custom has developped into a world wide phenomenon.
Georges Duboeuf says of the 2005 harvest :-
"To give you an impression of this year’s wine, I must first remark on its color. It is without a doubt the finest palette of colors I have seen in a glass of Beaujolais. There is sumptuous beauty within the glass made up of dazzling red with violet highlights, a deep ruby red with hints of garnet. In the Crus there are deep purple reds that are somber, like the blue of night. This is an impressive livery that is sure to enrobe and embellish 2005’s wine. Beyond its impeccable appearance, the 2005 vintage also contains some of the most remarkable aromas. They breathe a refreshing complexity of black currant, blueberry, blackberry, black cherry and kirsch, intermingled with violet, cocoa, coffee, pepper, licorice and warm spices."
"The taste of the 2005 Beaujolais Nouveau lives up to the standards set by its color and aroma. The palate gives the impression of intense concentration. This is a warm wine, bold and fleshy. It is harmonious, voluptuous and seductive. It is the sort of wine to help you rediscover the aromatic palate. The succulent fruits are held together by supple tannins that create the lavish expression of a high class wine. This is the mark of a formidable vintage that will be discussed for years to come. "
Having never tasted any Nouveau I decided that the time had come to take the plunge and managed to pick up a bottle for £4.99 from Waitrose (they had about 3 bottles left) In appearance the wine was a great deal deeper than I expected, definitely red and pink colours rather than purples but with a slight mauve tinge. The nose was clean and youthful as you would expect with the pear drop aroma you would expect from a product of carbonic masceration and some banana and strawberry aromas - so quite where Georges gets his fruit garden of aromas from I'm not sure. On the palate the wine is dry with little or no tannin but plenty of acidity giving it some structure. Very light bodied you could almost mistake this for a white wine if blindfolded - and certainly a Rose' as delicate strawberry comes through. All in all - what's the fuss about - to be honest I'm not really sure - the wine is certainly drinkable but beyond that, it's a little bit dull and ,for me, lacks the WOW factor. Would I buy it again - probably but only to be part of Nouveau phenomenon, if it weren't for that I'd leave it well alone.