Even though the long, long summer we’ve had, followed by the mildest October ever makes us feel like we’re still in early autumn, the fresh ruby-coloured Beajolais Nouveau emerging from a bottle once more is a sight for sore eyes
The primeur was uncorked all across France and around the world in celebration of the famous young wine that brings a summer bouquet into the hearts of those who savour its cheeky fruity taste in the depths of winter. Trying saying that while quaffing a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau!
The tradition of delivering the happiness of fresh Beaujolais to the peoples of northern Europe is one that reached its peak in popularity in the 1980s. Then, gangs of journalists from various countries would embark on a crazy multi-vehicular race across the Continent to bring back the first case of the Beaujolais Nouveau. The scenes were often reminiscent of the screwball comedy “It’s a Mad, Mad World”: On one occasion in Britain, a Harrier jump-jet was even used to bring the light wine back in record time to England, scooping maximum popular exposure in the press.
Since then, the whole thing has dipped in popularity for one reason or another and the press in this part of world seems to have dropped it down the ranks as an interesting news story. Like a group of students that have matured and cast aside the merry japes of their past, they seem to have been focusing on other things. Maybe it had something to do with the increasing levels in sophistication of our wine palates…But in the last 5-6 years, the popularity of the Beaujolais Nouveau has soared again. With all the negativity around these days, it’s really hard to put down a solid genuine excuse for a piss-up and a bit of a laugh.
In Beaujolais’ particularly beautiful “home town” of Beaujeu in the Rhône department (between between Mâcon and Lyon), they’re feeling the extra love that the world is showing to their baby too. Local wine-grower Daniel Bulliat – head of the Sarmentelles de Beaujeu committee – attempts a gushing explanation as to why this has happened:
“We tried for the last 5-6 years to do things to suit every kind of wallet. In 2013, the weather was awful, with snow on the hills and difficult situations to manage. This year, our marquee is full with 1,300 people. We have 350 volunteers over the five days of the festival and it’s on Wednesday night that the greatest number of them will be mobilised because we might have as many as 8,000 people in Beaujeu. We have a personalised welcome for the different nationalities, with Chinese people this year, but also Japanese like we have every other year. We’re seeing a lot of people arriving from the Far East…. We’re fortunate to have the one vignoble in France where people think of us once a year!”
Indeed, Japan is one country where the fervour for the Beaujolais Nouveau has apparently never died and the craze is spreading across a lot of the region, with the Chinese now establishing themselves amongst the world’s top purchasers of French wine.
Here in Ireland, the Beaujolais Nouveau had arrived by the 20th, in time for some grand un-corking at various locations. French food specialists Terroirs in Donnybrook had a special evening of free Beaujolais sampling, complete with Lyon sausages, pâté and cornichons. The France/Ireland Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, had their own evening of celebration at the Alliance Française.
See video below for a flavour of the big moment of the “Mise en perce” in Beaujeu, with music, sound-and-light and fireworks