BEAUJOLAIS: THIS beautiful French wine region lies between Lyons and Maconnais. Producers have to use at least 85 per cent of the Gamay grape, although most Beaujolais is 100 per cent. It is probably one of the fruitiest red wines on the market. Beaujolais AC should be drunk young, and certainly before the next vintage, so make sure the year of harvest (vintage) is on the label.
At midnight on the third Wednesday in November, Beaujolais Nouveau will be unleashed on the world, and in great quantities. Will the world of wine be a better place after this event? Somehow I doubt it. I’d even go so far as to say that Beaujolais Nouveau does more harm than good for the region.
Some wine buffs think that Beaujolais should only be drunk in November. When the wine is released on November 17 this year, they will meet at around 8.30am for a Beaujolais Nouveau breakfast – a rendezvous that will be followed by the comments: “it’s good, but not as good as last year”, or “this is much better than the one from 2003”.
These people are not cellar masters, masters of wine, or wine merchants, they are ‘buffs who don’t make notes at the breakfast, and just enjoy putting on a big act. How can they possibly remember what a wine was like, a wine that they only tasted on one day, two years previously? Some of them probably can’t remember what the wine they drank yesterday was like, never mind two years ago.
Fermentation can last for a month or more. The wine will then be racked a few times to remove the dead yeast. For Beaujolais Nouveau, the grapes are harvested in late September, the wine made, bottled, labelled, boxed and on the market, within about seven weeks. The French have to be admired for achieving this, and we won’t dwell too much on how they do it.
This particular Beaujolais is not representative of the region’s wines. Some try it, and then think all Beaujolais is the same. This is an unfortunate mistake as the other Beaujolais wines are very different. They have a red ruby colour and lots of fruit. Nouveau can be very harsh, with a purple colour resembling a blackcurrant drink.
Beaujolais Villages is well known and easy to find in the shops. There are over 30 communes entitled to the official Beaujolais Villages AC. So don’t assume that all ‘Villages’ are the same. Villages wines and the following ‘crus’ (growths) need not be drunk young and will keep for up to five years. There are 10 ‘crus’ and they are: Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Chenas, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Julienas, Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, Regnie, and St-Amour.
One typical French anomaly is the omission of the word ‘Beaujolais’ from the ‘cru’ labels.So if you don’t know the names of the ‘crus’, you won’t know the wine is a Beaujolais. Only the French could do this.
Please do remember, that if you buy a basic Beaujolais AC, drink it, and don’t lay it down.
It won’t be easy to find a Portuguese wine that resembles a Beaujolais, but I think I would go for a wine from Terras do Sado and made from the Castelão Francês (Periquita) grape. Try and buy one with a little age, when the tannins should be softening. It will not be exactly like a Beaujolais Villages or a ‘Cru’, but then the Beaujolais wines will not be the same as Pedras do Monte, Cepa Torta or Palmela.
The chances of getting an imitation Beaujolais in an EU country are pretty remote. If you go to the US, Australia or NZ, you probably will be able to buy one. They all try to copy the French wines, like Sauternes, Chablis, Champagne and so on but without much success.
Beaujolais can only be made in southern Burgundy, France. So if you are buying a bottle, look for the country of origin on the label.
The Patron Saint of French wines is Saint Vincent. After he died and went to Heaven, he got thirsty and was given permission to visit earth and drink more French wines. However, he drank too much of his favourite red Graves (Ch. La Mission-Haut-Brion), and was late returning to Heaven. He was turned to stone and you can still see his statue today, his mitre askew on his head. His feast day is celebrated in Burgundy. I wonder why Burgundy, when he was so fond of Bordeaux – another French anomaly?
Recently I read that you should only eat liver once a week or you can expect bone trouble.The remedy of course is to drink wine when eating liver. Wine contains calcium, so that should cancel any harm the liver might do, if it does any harm at all.
Congratulations to The Resident on their new, spacious and bright premises in Rua Visconde de Lagoa. I would like to wish them every success for the future and, having met the very friendly and courteous staff, I think that prosperity is guaranteed. My thanks to all, especially to the editor, Inês Lopes, Louise Pimm and Helen (of Blanchardstown) Berns for their kindness and hospitality. Good Luck to all.
Next issue: liqueurs.
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