Every November, wine-lovers from around the world raise a glass in celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau Day.
Made from gamay grapes in the Beaujolais region, Nouveau is bottled six-to-eight weeks after harvest. This young wine is known for being fresh, fruity and low in tannins. Altogether it is very approachable — a light, easy, fruity sipper.
By law, Beaujolais Nouveau cannot roll out for purchase until 12:01 a.m. on the third Thursday of November. Press received a sneak peek yesterday at Brasserie Ruhlmann in Manhattan. The tasting was led by Franck Duboeuf, son of legendary wine merchant Georges Duboeuf, whose self-named company scaled the Nouveau tradition globally.
Duboeuf first launched Nouveau commercially in Europe in 1974. Nine years later, the wine entered the U.S. market for the first time. So how does the 2019 vintage stack up against all this history?
For starters, 2019 was a difficult vintage. As Franck recalls, spring arrived too early, followed by a dry, snowy winter. A heat wave in summer made up for the previous setbacks, and relieved growers forecasted a robust September harvest. But then August arrived with hailstorms that affected about 1,500 hectares of Beaujolais vineyards.
Losses were significant. Thankfully, excellent sunshine later in August continued into September and helped the surviving grapes ripen and round out, Franck explains.
Compare these climate headaches with 2018, when growing conditions were near immaculate. As such, last year’s vintage had darker color and deeper fruit aromas than 2018, plus more structure and tannins, Franck says.
After overcoming weather hurdles, the 2019 Beaujolais Nouveau tastes particularly on the youthful side: very light and fresh. “It has a nice vivacity,” Franck explains, “with good acidity, and a very pleasant aftertaste.”
With sweet, light fruit flavors and lovely floral aromas, Nouveau fans will be happy with this year’s vintage. The 2019 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau is available for a suggested retail price of $12.99 per 750-ml. bottle.
The August hail was harder on the Nouveau vineyards than the Nouveauo-Villages crop. A fuller-bodied version of the “regular” style, Villages contains darker fruit flavors and aromas. “This year, you can really taste the difference between the two,” Franck points out. The 2019 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau-Villages has rich fruit flavors complimented by a silky smooth mouthfeel. The SRP is $14.99 per 750-ml. bottle.
The 2019 vintage marks the second run for Nouveau Rosé. Launched last year, this gamay rosé was made for the first time under the stewardship of Franck’s son in 2019, continuing the family’s winemaking tradition. It’s a bright, crisp, food-friendly wine, with loads of fresh fruit. The 2019 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé is available for an SRP of $12.99 per 750-ml. bottle.
Continuing a more recent tradition, Nouveau bottles sold in the U.S. will feature artwork from the winner of this year’s Artist Label Competition. Taking home the honor was Texas native Laura Runge, for her piece Joyous Crush. The artwork will appear on more than one million bottles of Duboeuf’s three 2019 Nouveau wines.
After all the hardships in this year’s harvest, Franck is quite pleased with the final output. “2019 is a Beaujolais Nouveau vintage to the highest sense of the word,” he says. “It’s truly a vintage of pleasure.”
Kyle Swartz is editor of StateWays magazine.