#BOJONUVO : The revival… PART 1
I’ll try to keep this as brief as I can, difficult because there’s a lot to be said. Something good is stirring for the tradition…
Beaujolais Nouveau: A tradition that’s been going since the 70s, where people would race with the “baby wine” of Beaujolais to Paris, and then to London, and in later years to Asia, America, and so on. It happens on the third Thursday of November, with chants around the world of Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!!!
The wine is a vin de primeur. It was originally created to assess how the vintage is going, as a way of winemakers to communicate with one another and have a first glimpse of the latest (in this case 2016) vintage. Personally, I think it’s fascinating, not just for Gamay/Beaujolais, but for other regions too. I once tried a baby Mâcon, which was wonderful – young and crazy and tasting of Haribo eggs, but nonetheless a solid, good baby wine-in-the-making.
Unfortunately, it resulted in a lot of poorly produced, weak, off-balance Beaujolais Nouveau that was produced to keep up with the marketing. This led to the Beaujolais name becoming somewhat tainted. It also led to consumers thinking that this was Beaujolais: this half, weak, baby wine. They thought the toddler was in fact the adult. This is frustrating, and a huge shame, because Beaujolais is capable of creating really fine wine, that can compete against the Pinots of the world (Gamay is after all, the genetic child of Pinot Noir). The crus have impeccable capacity for ageing, and the wines produce a very delicate, earthy, wild-strawberry-like wine with age. They are, in my opinion, some of the best wines for mirroring their terroir: Gamay is a delicate, ethereal varietal whose aromas really reflect where it comes from.
Furthermore, Beaujolais has the most fascinating array of terroirs. SIGALES have recently carried out a study of the soils of Beaujolais, using drill trenches and infra-red. This has resulted in the amazing characterisation of soils. And really – these have an evident effect on the wines: wines from granite have a very different taste profile from those from alluvial soils, schist, or manganese-heavy soils. How this happens, we don’t know, but I am adamant that it does.
Over the past few years, there has been incredible advances in Beaujolais. We have of course always had the fabulous Gang Of Four (Lapierre, Foillard, Breton and Thévenet), but in recent years, small young artisan producers are popping out left right and centre, for example Damien Coquelet, Mee Godard, Fréderic Berne from Château des Vergers, the Thillardon brothers, Mathieu Melinand, the Sunier brothers are just some that spring to mind, there are many many more. These are highly talented producers, making very expressive wines from specific plots, that truly express a sense of origin. There’s a focus on natural production: indigenous yeasts, no fining/filtering etc, that means you pretty much get the precise expression of the vineyard into your glass.
Me with the Thillardon brothers, May 2016.
The lovely CAMILLE LAPIERRE.
What does this mean for Beaujolais Nouveau?
All of the above means that some of these young producers are also making Beaujolais Nouveau, normally for the local market, and definitely to assess their own vintages and make sure everything is running smoothly, and to gain an idea for what their vintage will look like. However, they beginning to arrive over here too…
NB; In additon, these restaurants will be serving a Muscadet Nouveau from Landeron, and “Octobre”, a nouveau from Roussillon (domaine Foulards Rouges). Say whaaaat? I’ll obv be trying these too.
Furthermore, the wonderfully talented Andrew Nielsen from LE GRAPPIN has created a single vineyard plot of #BOJONUVO.
This will be available in Ben’s House, Bistro Union, Brunswick House, Clipstone, Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, Galvin Hop, Grain Store, Noble Rot (Fête du Beaujolais, with Pierre Koffman overseeing the menu and Andrew Nielsen in attendance along with Jean-Louis Dutraive and Julien Sunier), the Winemakers Club, 161 Food+Drink, and Ruby’s for their Genuwine dance party.
Made from (declassified) old vine Côte-de-Brouilly grapes and placed into an IBC (International Beverage Container – a 1000L drum) under cover of CO2 for sixteen days untouched under pressure of its own CO2 produced naturally by fermentation. On the 16th day of cuvaison, the top was cut open, and the grapes were crushed by foot. The juice was run off to be fermented separately from the pressings. Unfined, unfiltered, no added yeasts or any additions of any kind. No SO2. Kegged by gravity. Inspired both by old-school closed top carbonic fermentations from the Beaujolais and Vino Di Anna’s Palmento made from the free run of foot crushed grapes.
The wine comes direct from the keg via the on-tap project started last year by OW LOEB – who now works with over 30 top London restaurants delivering quality wine by the glass fresh from the winery. This is in order to protect freshness, and be environmentally-freindly. It arrives in London TODAY, fresh from the cuve in the keg! Nielsen is well-renowned for his passion for the environment – for example he doesn’t use capsules on his fine wines, and he creates “bagnums” and kegs for his vins de soif.