This weekend is the introduction of the Beaujolais Nouveau 2010. Every year around this time, the new Beaujolais for the year is released by the vineyards in the Beaujolais AOC wine region in France. Last year, to my great delight, I attended the festival with my friends Marianne, Haruka, and Amanda. Marianne and her family are amazingly generous people and are from the region, and so we stayed at her parents' lovely home in a small town outside Lyon and enjoyed the festivities during the day. (We also ate delicious home-made crepes for dinner the night before, and toured into Lyon for an amazing meal after the festival.) The weekend is celebrated all over the world, and Haruka told us that in Japan, the Beaujolais Nouveau weekend is almost a bigger deal than it is in France. The celebrations in the region included vineyard tours, wine tastings, concerts, and a marathon through the towns in the region where one could dress up if one wanted.
Beaujolais is a light to medium-bodied red wine created from Gamay grapes. An important note about Beaujolais is that there are actually three kinds of wine that fall under this name. They are: Beaujolais, which covers the most extensive amount of production and most of these are Beaujolais Nouveau; Beaujolais-Villages, which is a slightly higher-quality wine than the Nouveau and is made in fewer villages and sold not until after the first winter has passed since bottling; and Crus du Beaujolais, which is the highest quality wine and is widely exported, though it accounts for a very small amount of the production in the area. Cote de Brouilly and Brouilly are both Crus du Beaujolais that one can regularly find in liquor and wine stores in Canada. In France, Beaujolais is often said to be the worst of all the wines, and what is largely referred to by comments such as this is the Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Village. The Crus are mostly given an exception to this harsh judgment (though methinks some of the very snobby snobs think that all of it is bad).
I have always enjoyed Beaujolais, though I had never had Beaujolais Nouveau, mostly because few of them are exported (though I did find some in Quebec in the summer), and I was really excited to participate in the festivities of the weekend. We decided to start the day in Fleurie, where a Crus du Beaujolais named after the town is bottled.
|Amanda, Marianne, and me walking in Fleurie|
|The refreshment table in Arnas,|
equipped with Nouveau
|The view from the Fleurie vineyard|
|Amanda, Marianne, and Haruka|
eating awesome cheese and bread
|People getting ready to run.|
|Marathoners all dressed up!|
|Amanda, Haruka and me drinking Nouveau in Arnas|
|Marianne having a wee drink, with runners behind her|
On our way back to Lyon we stopped in to see Marianne's god-parents who happen to live in the region, and we walked with them to a little vineyard called La Ricottiere, where the owners made Beaujolais and were selling Nouveau and some of their own Villages. They offered us tastings of their wine, which was delicious, and they were happily impressed when I said that the Villages had a nice taste of vanilla. I purchased three bottles from them to bring home to Canada for my mum, Drew's mum, and my Gran, which is a bottle over the legal allowance, but I was willing to risk it. The wine and the experience together were just so great that I had to share it with people who I knew would like it too.
|The 'Cave' of La Ricottiere|