Beaujolais Nouveau Day is the third Thursday of November, when this classic French region releases wines from its latest harvest. Bottled only weeks after harvest, these wines are meant to be consumed young, within months of purchase. They offer a preview of what each vintage will express in the years ahead.
Celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau Day in America on Nov. 17 was Franck Duboeuf, CEO of Les Vins Georges Duboeuf, and son of the late, legendary Georges Duboeuf, who popularized the Nouveau tradition. Duboeuf led a tasting at Quality Bistro in New York (after his son recently visited for a sampling of the 2020 Georges Duboeuf Domaine and Chateaux Vintages.)
Duboeuf first released Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé in 2018, amidst the category craze.
“It remains a part of the tradition now with Nouveau,” Duboeuf says. “Though a small portion of rosé was always made and drunk locally in Beaujolais.”
The region’s traditional gamay grape is “obvious” for rosé, he explains, as the dark-skinned varietal produces lighter juice. Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé sees no maceration, “stem to steel,” and is pressed immediately.
The result a purposely subtle product, light in color and freshly scented. “We try to avoid too much of the exuberant aromas,” Duboeuf explains. “We prefer more traditional aromas, like raspberries. We want our rosé light and pleasant, with lots of freshness and a bit of tension. It’s easy to drink, and well balanced.”
The 2022 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Rosé Nouveau retails for $15.99 per 750-ml. bottle. It paired nicely with our appetizers of crab cake, steak tartare Rossini foie gras, green garlic escargot and bibb lettuce with avocado.
Poured next was a pairing of contrast: The 2022 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau ($14.99) and the 2022 Beaujolais Nouveau Chateau Chateau d’Ouilly ($17.99). The former is the company’s standard release, while the latter is a single estate. The difference? The standard bottle was well-rounded with lots of cherry flavors, while the single-estate offered a bit more acidity and freshness. Both were subtle, pleasant, easy-drinking and food-friendly.
Overall, the 2022 Beaujolais Nouveau represented “a harvest of extremes,” Duboeuf says. A dry, cool winter saw little to no frost damage, unlike last year’s punishing cold. Then summer arrived with record heat, reaching temperatures last recorded in Beaujolais in 1947.
“It was so hot that photosynthesis stopped,” Duboeuf recalls. This slowed maturation, resulting in smaller grapes. Around 30 to 40% of the harvest was lost this way, around the same percentage of fruit ruined by winter 2021’s terrible frost.
Despite summer troubles, “We are very happy and pleased with this vintage,” Duboeuf says. “It has incredible acidity. We thought it might be like the 2003 vintage, where the acidity was overboard, but this is more balanced.”
“We like the style of this vintage,” he adds. “It has a deep-red color. Aromas are fresh and pleasant. The flavors are not just black berry, but fresher because of the good levels of acidity. We’re tempted to compare 2022 with 2020, 2015 and 2009 — the most prestigious vintages. Time will tell.”
The tasting concluded with another pairing: The 2022 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages Nouveau ($15.99) and 2022 Georges Duboeuf Domaine des Trois Vallons Beaujolais Nouveau ($18.99).
The Villages release, representing the Beaujolais northern appellation, was well balanced with black fruits (especially black cherry) before a nice tannin at the end. “The Villages always produce very balanced wines,” Duboeuf says.
As for the Domaine des Trois Vallons, “I would describe it as a basket of black and red fruits,” Duboeuf adds. With an excellent body and rich mouthfeel — the best of both from the bunch — it held up wonderfully with filet mignon au poivre, served a perfectly medium rare.
Altogether, the 2022 Nouveau Day was another showcase of the region’s excellent and diverse gamay wines, poised for nice aging years ahead.
“We have a mosaic of soils in Beaujolais,” Duboeuf says. “This permits us to produce very-strong-character wines.”