A Beaujolais Kind of Day...
Funny how some of the most wonderful flavors in the world are often also the most misunderstood. Flavors with character, the distinct accent of their particular home terre – and more soul than the waiting room in purgatory – flavors that have been unjustly tarred with bad press in the forum of conventional wisdom and that bear the ignominy of the of pseudo-sophisticate’s scorn.
I’ve had Beaujolais on my mind these days. New releases from some of the region’s best producers have been showing up in town almost weekly, and as our thirsts have been whetted, La Copine and I have had the opportunity to open a bottle or two. It’s been a treat, as always – one of those little pleasures that don’t cost a heckuva lot, but that provide a unique kind of loveliness that is beyond quantifying with any price tag.
Think ripe fruit. Not bursting with sugar ripe, but the almost tangy, vibrant flavor of berries or cherries when they’re at that solstice – like instant when sweet fruit, the earth it grew in and the sun that nourished it all seem to come together in a harmony so delicious that it’s best enjoyed at mezzo piano. Just enough volume to hear, the intrigue and allure of the flavors prompting you to open your senses and “listen” more intently.
Meanwhile, Beaujolais Nouveau is days away from making an appearance. Traditionally, this is the first red wine of the just completed vintage – and an opportunity to taste what a season in the vineyard has bestowed upon the region’s growers. Nouveaux or “primeur’ wines from honest, scrupulous growers can be lovely, youthfully bright expressions of the vintage that give a good idea of what the growers more “serious” wines will be like(although Nouveau from many of the region’s best growers are plenty “serious” in their own right).
Sadly, however, the good name of Beaujolais Nouveau – and the region in general -- has been trashed by the exploitation and marketing wizardry of Georges DuBoeuf, whose ersatz, factory-made, manipulated, wine-like product has come to virtually define the region by dint of its ubiquity. (If I were a Beaujolais grower, I’d lobby for M. DuBoeuf to be exiled for treason. Stripped of his French citizenship and given the boot. Adieu, pour toujours.)
But enough trash – talking. We’re here to talk about real wine. The nouveaux arrive today, and will vanish into waiting glasses before the year is done – but there’s plenty of gorgeous Beaujolais to be had year-round. And while great Beaujolais is delicious in any season, the contrast of its bright sunny fruit, with the smell of fallen leaves and the early dark and chill of an early evening is soul-warming. We’re thirsty now – and counting the minutes ‘til the day’s work is done…
Enjoy. Life is short – make every glass count!