Beaujolais Time Again!


Le Beaujolais est arrivé!

« THE BEAUJOLAIS HAS ARRIVED » was a quotation first spoken by Louis Orizet who was an agricultural engineer and who devoted his career to wine.

Well, here we are and it’s Beaujolais Nouveau time again! My oh my, how time does fly these days. Just yesterday I was in Spain tasting some really good wines from the Penedes and Rioja regions (we will talk about that adventure later). Now I’m home and have started teaching again in Paris, as well as, helping my husband select wines for our clients.  Things were a bit crazy, with the French syndicates striking against the new retirement reforms that the French government is pushing through. With the entire ruckus in the Streets of Paris, and the rapid train system workers also on strike, I got stranded in Paris a couple of times. Luckily for me, the Hotels weren’t on strike. But that’s life in France at the moment.

But back to the Beaujolais time. It looks like Beaujolais celebrations this year will be as calm as it was last year here in France, thanks to the fact that many of the more reputable Beaujolais wineries are trying to distance themselves from this wine. For some time now, the negative reputation that the young and fruity Beaujolais wine has developed has finally taken a toll on the region.

I’m not a historian, but I’ve read several interesting books on the region’s history. Beaujolais, with its link to the southern part of Burgundy, was named after a castle built in the 19th century called Château Beaujeu. With the reign of the first ancestors of the house of Beaujeu and until 1265, the region became a very important trade center for the area. But when Lord Humbert III founded the new village, Villefranche which is closer to the Saône, he also built roads and unknowingly created a new capital for trade and business. First a French province until 1560, and then belonging to the Bourbons, the region was finally controlled by the family d’Orléans in 1626. Since 1793, Beaujolais has been a part of the Rhône department and the Greater Burgundy wine region.

Although linked to Burgundy as a part of the Greater Burgundy Region, even the Burgundians of the Côte d’Or have a tendency to treat Beaujolais as a stepchild that doesn’t exist. In fact, many people don’t know that there is more to Beaujolais than just the Beaujolais Nouveau. There are some very nice wines coming from this area. Wines coming from 10 small parcels that are called the 10 Crus of Beaujolais. These are wines that have a lot more personality and are more enjoyable to drink. Cru wines such as Morgon, Brouilly, and Moulin-a-Vent are just a few examples of what you can find here.

Last year the celebration of the coming out of the Beaujolais Nouveau was quiet and almost nonexistent in Paris. There were a few wine stores, bars and restaurants loyal to the tradition, but many of the others preferred not to take part in this ‘global’ party. Today, we are a week from the official popping of that first bottle, which is Nov 18, 2010, and so far I haven’t  seen much advertising for the event. It’s a shame because just like the other wine regions of France, the wines of Beaujolais have a lot to offer.

However, If you are in Lyon, the party is winding up as usual. The bars and restaurants are putting up their banners and are gleefully running around trying to be ready for this special day. Let us not forget that Lyon is closest to Beaujolais and the Lyonnais people love to party!
So if you are interested in trying some of these wines in Paris, here are a few places that you can go to for a start:

1. Wine stores that everyone knows about (that is, if they live here) are the Nicolas’. They are practically everywhere you look here! Most of them will be celebrating the coming out of the Beaujolais Nouveau, so don’t hesitate to just drop by. However, if you are in the Bercy area go to the Nicolas Bercy.
2. This wine bar in the 15th District (arrondissement) of Paris is quite popular. Nice atmosphere and very  French, it is called Le Saint-Vincent à Paris .
3.   LE BEAUJOLAIS – Is a restaurant on rue Suffren in the 17th arr of Paris. Here you should have a very nice elegant evening while celebrating the coming out of the Beaujolais Nouveau.
4. And if you are in the 18th arr. there is a great neighborhood café called la cave café  . Fantastic ambiance, great service and the American owner is a really fun guy! All their wines are natural, organic wines;
5. If you are in Lyon, I am almost sure that the Brasserie Georges will be partying hardy !
Did you know that Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be served fresh and drunk within six months to a year? This might be why Beaujolais Nouveau suffers a bit from prejudice, since a young wine has never been as highly regarded as an aged wine. Wouldn’t it be great if the same thing held true for people? Young or old, enjoy the young Beaujolais!
Photo credits: Moi (that means me!)
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