As I was saying in one or two of my previous posts, Beaujolais wines are often misunderstood because Beaujolais Nouveau are misleading examples of what Beaujolais has to offer. There are much better Beaujolais wines out there, like the Beaujolais Villages and Cru Beaujolais, if you want to fully experienced the complexity of this wine region. But let's get back to the impact, or the non-impact I should say, of Beaujolais Nouveau.
The 3rd Thursday of November, each year, corresponds to the official release date of the big mass marketed Beaujolais Nouveau in the world. It is one of the most important race for cash of the year, ringing the bell for the beginning of the last 6 most lucrative weeks of the year (holidays' season) during which importers, wholesalers, distributors, retails and restaurants secure their feet in the starting blocks, to be the fastest to collect the maximum of cash before the New Year (January and February being usually really slow months).
Beaujolais Nouveau day is normally quite huge, with banners all over the city, costly advertising in diverse magazines and newspapers, and wine tastings suddenly mushrooming in bars, restaurants and retails. However for the past 2-3 years, Beaujolais Nouveau sales have been decreasing, it seems that people are not interested anymore, almost bored of it. It is normally a fun thing to do with friends and family, but the quality of the last few vintages was deceiving and people slowly abandons the idea of celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau day.
2009 is supposed to be a great, promising vintage for many wine regions in France and overall in Europe. The Beaujolais Nouveau 2009 is apparently also a very good vintage and triggered a lot of expectations from the producers (none whatsoever from the consumers...). However, this year, banners where nowhere to be seen and advertisings were more discreet or even hidden in the press. The usual battering campaign didn't seem to work this year. Economy? Recession? Lack of interest? Not fashionable anymore? Who knows! Thus, we can somewhat deduct that Beaujolais Nouveau doesn't appeal anymore!
You see, last year we bought about five different brands of Beaujolais Nouveau: two did OK! And the other took us forever to sale them, up until March or even April of the next year. Who wants to sell Beaujolais Nouveau in April? No one. we even had to considerably lower the price to sell them. So, this year we only bought 2 brands: Duboeuf (can't avoid it and people are expecting it) and Dupeuble (a more artisanal, way smaller production wine with less mass appeal but more character and depth). We normally buy Domaine de La Madone, but we didn't this year.
However, we were ready for a big day last Thursday, on Beaujolais Nouveau Day. Like many of our competitors, we had a free in-store tasting from 5.30pm to 8.30pm, opposing Duboeuf ($8.99) and Dupeuble ($14.99) Beaujolais Nouveau to Henry Fessy Regnié ($11.99) and Domaine de la Chapelle des Bois Fleurie ($19.99), just to offer the possibility for our customers to understand the differences between Beaujolais Nouveau, Beaujolais villages and Cru Beaujolais. We even posted the event (like most of our events) on Twitter and Facebook, thinking that we will have a big turn over.
Well, we were wrong. God knows if it was the rain that night that discouraged the customers or the lack of interest, but the sales result at the end of the tasting was pretty disappointing. Friday was no better and Saturday, even if a bit better wasn't extraordinary either. Today, Sunday, sales seems a bit better, perhaps the nice sunny weather is inspiring people to go out and have a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau with family and friends.
In any case, the results at the end of the next six weeks will indicate if Beaujolais Nouveau is still fashionable or not. One thing is sure, it doesn't create the craze that it once used to be anymore, and sales are far much slower than they used to be too. We'll see next week with Thanksgiving, may be people will pair some Beaujolais Nouveau with their Turkey and sales will go up again, but I think Beaujolais Nouveau's reputation and the enthusiasm that it once used to create are depleting.
My personal opinion regarding our in-store tasting, it was interesting to compare these 4 Beaujolais:
2009 Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau Burgundy France
Suggested retail price $7-$10
Fruity, straightforward, simple, somewhat fun but nothing really exciting with mix indiscernible flavors (like each year, some say Banana, other Strawberry, I'll say it is definitely confusing and appears to be a bit of both).
2009 Dupeuble Beaujolais Nouveau Burgundy France
Suggested retail price $13-$16
Imported / Distributed by Winebow in NYC
Definitely a step up from Duboeuf, more Terroir oriented with more nuances and character. Still quite fruity and playful, a touch earthy, with more volume and length. From a smaller production where quality can be controlled and achieved. Gentle flavors of red cherry and berries, earth and mineral constitute the main features on this enjoyable Beaujolais Nouveau.
2008 Henry Fessy "Château des Reyssiers" Regnié
Suggested retail price $10-$13
Imported by Louis Latour / Distributed by Mr. Touton Selections
A charming, easy going, light Gamay wine. The robe is light, bright ruby red. Developed aromas of red berries, like red currant and raspberry, with subtle floral perfume constitute the nose. In the palate, the attack is quite juicy and fruity, expanding nicely in a structured, elegant and supple mid-palate. The acidity carries the red fruit flavors with focus toward the lingering, fresh and dry finish. Quite well rounded without excessive tannins, this wine is well made, simple yet refined and charming, somewhat feminine and refreshing with a twist of earthiness, a touch dry at the end. Enjoy it warm temperature with white meat and poultry, or even slightly chilled with fish or cheese.
2007 Chapelle des Bois Fleurie Beaujolais France
Suggested retail price $18-$21
Imported / Distributed by Rosenthal / Madrose
Made from 100% Gamay Noir a jus Blanc, from vines averaging 40 year old, planted on granitic soils, the 2007 Fleurie possesses a dark ruby color of good intensity. Initially slightly rustic on the nose, it offers charming cherry aromas with intense stony minerality, and some blueberry notes. At first a bit tight and earthy in the mouth, it definitely benefits of a bit of patience and a good swirl in the glass to fully express itself. The palate, once open, develops with intensely concentrated red and dark fruits complemented by great earthiness. Slightly tannic finish, the balance between the rich fruit and the acidity in this wine is the charming key. After quite a few minutes, it evolves gently and smooths out some of the slight rustic edges.
The Chapelle des Bois was definitely the best and most complex of the bunch.
Over the last few days, I wrote quite a few articles and wine posts about Beaujolais on my blog (www.LeDomduvin.com), feel free to leave me some comments and opinions.
If that can help, here is a small list of some of my favorite producers of Beaujolais: Chantal & Eric Coudert-Appert at Domaine de la Chapelle des Bois, Henry Fessy, Pascal Granger, Domaine Michel Cheveau, Domaine Chatelard, Domaine Joseph Chamonard, Jean-Paul Brun, etc.. and you can find more on my previous post: www.ledomduvin.com/2009/04/lets-go-back-to-beaujolais-for-minute.html
LeDom du Vin
Step into the Green! Drink more Biodynamic and Organic wines (and Food) from sustainable culture and respect the environment!