Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES November 23rd

Ultra-Premium & Nouveau

By John Szabo MS & Sara d’Amato, with notes from David Lawrason and Michael Godel

This week’s report is literally crammed with great wines. The sheer number of picks from the WineAlign crü – 31 collectively – is testament to the quality of the November 23rd release, featuring “coveted, iconic wines from the world’s top regions”. If you’ve been saving up for some fine bottles, this is the weekend to liquidate (liquify?) your accounts. But top dollar is not essential, as we’ve also found ample sub $30 and $20 options to consider. To simplify your shopping, I’ve broken the recommendations into swallow-able sips. Fans of embryonic, grapey, barely-wines should read Sara’s brief history of the Beaujolais Nouveau craze and our buyer’s guide to the best of the release.  Risk-averse shoppers should head straight to the Double Alignment section featuring wines recommended by at least two WineAlign critics. Or, if you already feel comfortable with your most trusted WineAlign critic, align yourself directly with the picks of David Lawrason, Michael Godel, Sara d’Amato, or John Szabo.

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Le nouveau est arrivé! – by Sara d’Amato

The third Thursday of November is upon us, requiring merchants worldwide to make way for the arrival of the 2019 Beaujolais Nouveaux. The success of “Beaujolais Nouveau Day” has become a trade bandwagon for other regions to market their freshly fermented wines. By definition, “Nouveau” is a young wine that is bottled 6 to 8 weeks after harvest. A process of semi-carbonic maceration is used to create this style of Beaujolais which begins with uncrushed grapes placed in a sealed tank filled with carbon dioxide to create an anaerobic environment. The individual berries begin to spontaneously ferment from within creating a uniquely aromatic and fruity wine that is low in tannins.

Historically, the wine was bottled as a means to celebrate the harvest. The intention was to revel in the wake of the arduous harvest season with some of the fruits of labour. Nouveau was a simple, swig-worthy sipper that locals would pair with seasonal street food like boudin blanc, sausages and roasted chestnuts. However uncomplicated the wine may be, it is big business in Beaujolais, making up half of the region’s production — about 65 million bottles.

Beginning in 1951, it became legislated that November 15th was to be the day of the release of Beaujolais Nouveau. This launched a competition among producers of who could deliver most quickly their bottles to the bistros of Paris. In the 1970s, the celebrated winemaker and entrepreneur, Georges Duboeuf, launched a publicity campaign to heighten the excitement surrounding the wine. Soon, the slogan “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé” was being trumpeted around the world. The clever marketing skyrocketed this simple wine to fame and had mixed consequences for this southern Burgundian region. It was in 1985 that Beaujolais established that the 3rd Thursday of November would be the date of release, a jumpstart to a weekend of festivities. Given that American Thanksgiving tends to coincide with the date, it has also become a staple on holiday tables making an ideal match for turkey.

The Nouveau party begins at 12:01 on Thursday, November 21st and will continue throughout the weekend. Whether you hope to attend one yourself or throw one of your own, remember to be spirited, not stodgy! Our top picks to help you celebrate at home:

Buyer’s Guide to 2019 Beaujolais Nouveau’s

Duboeuf Gamay Nouveau 2019, Vin de Pays de L’Ardèche, France ($14.95)
Sara d’Amato – A leading force in the Beaujolais Nouveau movement, Duboeuf has here branched out to the neighbouring Archèche region with a fun-loving, peppery, young gamay. Dry with red flower and juniper on the nose and an almost soft, syrah-like character. Super crushable, uncomplicated and a widely appealing.
Michael Godel – Perfectly juicy and lightly peppery young gamay with a minor amount of chalky structure to take this deep, six to 10 months easy. Lovely and useful 2019. …


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That’s all for this report. See you around the next bottle.

John Szabo, MS

Use these quick links for access to all of our Top Picks in the New Release. Non-Premium members can select from all release dates 30 days prior.
John’s Top Picks
Lawrason’s Take
Michael’s Mix
Sara’s Sommeliers Selections

New Release and VINTAGES Preview