I admit it – I was in Europe in November back in the late ’80s and I got all caught up in the Beaujolais Nouveau hype. It seemed important and festive to be among the first to try the newest Beaujolais “vintage” on the third Thursday in November. Well, guess what? It’s not. It’s no accident that the French were perfectly content to drink the newly bottled Beaujolais – it was cheap, the year didn’t matter anyway and it was not going to get any better with age. It was really brilliant marketing that got people to eagerly anticipate the annual opportunity to buy the lowest grade wine produced in the Beaujolais region. Even at relatively low prices, it must have made a ton of money for Georges Duboeuf, whose vivid floral bottles and cases dramatically appeared amid much hoopla in liquor stores the Thursday before Thanksgiving. Ironically, French law prohibits adding any higher quality Beaujolais wine to the Nouveau, thus preserving the integrity of its crappy, fruity ordinariness.
Now for the good news – the very best quality Beaujolais wine comes from ten small areas in the region known as crus. We also know that the 2009 vintage is one of the Very Best Ever, certainly the best in this century. So it’s very easy to stop getting the worst Beaujolais money can buy and start getting the best, and it’s not even that much more expensive. The only small obstacle is that the Good Stuff is not called Beaujolais, unless you look closely at the bottle, so it’s a little hard to find in the liquor store. Just look for one of these ten names on the bottle:
– Cote de Brouilly
– Moulin à Vent
– Saint Amour
and the year 2009 and you’ll get an outstanding bottle of red wine. You don’t have to wait until next Thursday; go today if you want. Get some for yourself and some more as gifts for the people you’ll visit over the real holidays.