In the Beaujolais region of Burgundy the third Thursday of November marks the release of the young wine that is made from indigenous Gamay grape. The infamous Beaujolais Nouveau is made by carbonic maceration, a way of fermenting the juice while it is still inside the grape by placing whole bunches of grapes in a closed vat. As the grapes on the bottom of the vat are crushed under the weight of the grapes above they burst and begin to ferment, releasing carbon dioxide that starts the fermentation process in the other grapes. This fermentation takes only four to five days, and produces a soft, fruity wine with little to no tannins.
Beaujolais Nouveau was originally a local wine, locally consumed at harvest festivals. This simple, fresh wine began to increase in popularity with the marketing exploits of large producers like the negoçiant George Duboeuf in the 1950s. As Beaujolais Nouveau increased in popularity, producers looking to make big profits began manipulating their wines for cheap mass-production. Growers weren’t afraid to massively increase yields, add sugar, or use commercial yeast strains that ensure a quick, predictable fermentation. Poor farming and winemaking practices have resulted in the banana and bubblegum scented juice many people associate with the name Beaujolais Nouveau.
Luckily for all of us, Formaggio Kitchen has access to one of the finest and most authentic examples of Nouveau in the market. Isabelle and Bruno Perraud farm the 8ha Domaine des Côtes de la Molière in the town of Vauxrenard. Not only is their fruit certified organic, but it also comes from old vines (around 50 years) that are planted in a steeper, well-exposed vineyard in the Beaujolais Villages A.O.C., a higher designation than simple ‘Beaujolais’. The quality of their fruit shines in their natural wines which are made without the addition of commercial yeasts or sulfur. The Perraud’s Nouveau is no exception, and offers a level of quality and character that surpasses almost all others on the market. It is unfiltered and unfined, practices that add to the concentration of bright red cherry fruit and help the wine retain its earthy complexity. Need we point out that a fruity low alcohol wine is the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table? It’s comforting to know that there is naturally made, delicious Beaujolais Nouveau still out there.
We thank you Isabelle and Bruno, for showing how good Beaujolais Nouveau can be!
Gemma Iannoni is the wine buyer at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.