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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Beaujolais Nouveau Continues to Find Fans!

It's that time of the year again – the release of the wine connoisseurs love to hate and the Japanese love to drink.

As the clock struck midnight Wednesday, corks popped the world over on this year's bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau, with enophiles in Asia getting the first taste of the love-it-or-loathe-it young French wine.

Long an annual tradition, winemakers in Beaujolais country in eastern France rush the "primeur" wine to market just a few weeks after harvest, bottling quickly following a rapid fermentation and maturation taking a matter of weeks.

The time difference means the Japanese – always keen fans of Beaujolais – will be the first to taste this year's vintage, whose hurried preparation often makes for very mixed reviews.
Japan imported 7.9 million bottles last year – far ahead of the nearest competition. The United States bought 1.8 million bottles and Germany took 730,000.

Some producers in France have even decided to align their clocks with their biggest fans.
"We will celebrate the Beaujolais Nouveau on Skype with our Japanese clients," said Claire Chasselay, 30, a wine producer in Chatillon d'Azergues, in southern Beaujolais.

"Our Japanese clients know us thanks to Beaujolais Nouveau. Now they buy our line throughout the year," said Chasselay.

Exports account for around 40 percent of sales of the wine, which has a powerful marketing pull even if the taste often leaves critics unimpressed. Beaujolais Nouveau has a reputation for a very fruity aroma and in the days when it was mass produced with little care for the quality, it was derisively known as the banana-flavored wine.

"[Banana] is an aroma that can be found naturally in wine," said Melina Condy, another producer. "But for Beaujolais, it was due to a yeast that was added that had a secondary effect on the taste. It is no longer used."

For some, making the wine is a great challenge.

"The Beaujolais Nouveau is a rude wine – very young and spirited," said winemaker Fabien Chasselay, but he added that getting it right can be tough.

"It's the most difficult, but it's so much fun to do," he said. "If you finish the process too soon or too late, there is no maturity to fall back on. That's why so much ends up in the trash."

The Beaujolais region is happy with the quality of the 2014 vintage as confirmed by Bertrand Chatelet, director of Sicarex, a local vineyard research institute, who said: "the wines show a superb flavor intensity."

He added: "the tannins are fine, silky and perfectly integrated, which gives structure and length on the palate, with above all lots of elegance."

The expected good structure should bode well for next year's releases of the more serious and much more interesting Beaujolais crus wines, and for the growing number of Côte d’Or producers who have invested in Beaujolais recently, such as Lafarge and Louis Boillot.

Earlier this year, Maison Joseph Drouhin announced a long-term partnership with the Hospices de Belleville, which has an estate of 14 hectares (35 acres) in Fleurie, Brouilly and Morgon.

The release of the Beaujolais Nouveau has become a fixture of restaurants all over the world, even though the "tradition" was only invented by négociant Georges Duboeuf in 1967.

Source: http://www.wine-searcher.com/