Beaujolais All Day aka How About Some Bojo Novo

I used to call rosé the ¾ sleeves of wine—fit for when you cannot make up your mind about what the weather calls for. But let's be real, most of the time rosé is a warm weather wine. But a chilled Gamay…that is a ¾ sleeves red juice! It suits the Goldilocks none-too-hot-nor-chilled autumn air. And it just so happens that it has its very own holiday in November too. Gamay had a troubled youth. In 1395 it was banished from Burgundy by Duke Philippe the Bold on counts of being “a very bad and disloyal variety.” I am not sure what Gamay did to him. Cheat on Burgundy with the Jura? Get Philippe drunk and have its way with him? I mean, I’d let Gamay ravage me any day, but prejudiced Philippe did not have a grape-positive attitude. The rebel persevered. It did not quite leave Burgundy, instead hanging out in the southern realms of Bourgogne known as Beaujolais. It could have become an upstanding citizen. It could have got an education. Instead it got a reputation. A good one. And a bad one. I’m here to talk about both. More recently, Gamay got a rep as a party monster. But it’s not Gamay’s fault! It was his friend, George Duboeuf who put Beaujolais on the street every third Thursday of November in the name of Beaujolais Day. It probably began as a way to have a quickly made wine to celebrate the end of harvest, but it was Duboeuf who realized he could market the holiday. The wines released for this fête come from grapes just barely harvested and vinified. The fermentation usually begins with a process called carbonic maceration. Grape clusters are blanketed in carbon dioxide and, starved for air, start fermenting intracellularly. I know when I need a breathe of fresh air I totally liquefy my innards, so I get it. The inner fermentation causes the grapes to burst, and from there they are fermented in the usual yeast-y manner of your everyday wine. There is also partial carbonic maceration where whole clusters of grapes are put in a container and the pressure of the grapes on top breaks the grapes on the bottom. They start to ferment traditionally, releasing carbon dioxide that surrounds the unbroken grapes above that then begin the intracellular fermentation. The classic flavors associated with carbonic maceration are bubble gum, bananas and cotton candy. They can be good and they can be icky. Sadly Beaujolais Nouveau is associated with the latter. But the best are light flirty fun. And the rest of the Beaujolais region also creates some stellar wines that may or may not even use carbonic maceration! I’ll begin with the fanciest: The northern realms Beaujolais are home to soils granitic and poor. And poor soil equals rich wines! There are ten cru vineyards, and will be labeled by which cru they came from. North to south the ten crus are: St. Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Morgon, Chiroubles, Régnié, Côte de Brouilly and Brouilly. They all have their own personalities, and depending on the winemakers will can range from light and floral, like Fleurie, or bigger, bolder more structured wine such as Juliénas or Morgon. Carbonic maceration is not the norm here but I imagine there are vignerons dabbling. Winemakers might even use some new French oak. I don’t have a favorite cru, but if I did I’d pick Régnié. Or Juliénas. Or…yeah I have no favorite. Just south of the crus, there is still some granite in the soil and some sand which is important for drainage. Here you will find the Beaujolais-Village level wines. They are likely to have undergone partial or full carbonic maceration. They have some complexity and are, in my opinion, the most obviously Beaujolais whilst retaining a more serious structure. They are the ¾ sleeves of Gamay, which if my math is correct, makes them the 9/16th sleeves of wine. Very good on a 55 degree day. South of the Beaujolais Villages you find work-a-day Beaujolais. Typically made with carbonic or semi-carbonic maceration. Totally solid light fun. But with a smidge more je ne sais quoi than a lot of Beaujolais Nouveau. Then we have the dreaded (or not!) Beaujolais Nouveau, or as I like to call it, Bojo Novo. I’ve had good ones. I’ve had bad ones. My main advice is to get them from an importer you trust and drink them by Christmas. If you for some reason find yourself with an abundance of them and the new year is looming close, they are a great cranberry sauce addition. I plan on an honorary sip of Beaujolais Nouveau next Thursday. While I am suspect of the holiday’s capitalist intentions, I am always happy for a reason to celebrate wine. Get into the Gamay!

Sébastien Congretel

L'Épicurieux Vin de Chacha Régnié Gamay

Solidly cru Bojo. The label lured me in the vin kept me there. — 5 years ago

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Severn Goodwin

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@Ellen Clifford Nice feature article today, so you desire a tryst with Gamay? 🤫 I got the standard bearer of BoJo NoVo today at lunch, likely will be sampled tomorrow. GD is even making a Rosé NoVo this year.
Ellen Clifford

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@Severn Goodwin thanks for reading the article! I also got my GD sampler today and am in particular excited to try the rosé and the Beaujolais Villages Nouveau! We’ll have to compare notes😊

Laurent Perrachon

Les Vignes Centenaires Juliénas Gamay 2015

Maybe I'm just too into a chilled Gamay. But I'd drink this darling over and again. Okay I would not pair with a green salad on its own but a salad plus a cheese plate plus pommes frites? For sure. Wish I'd brought a bottle to dinner at Cafe Stella though their Sicilian Nero d'Avola and Stolpman Syrah stood tall. This is the perfect balance of ripe alllllllmost but not quite jammy cherries and blackberries and green but nice enough tannins. It is low-ish for a red in alcohol (13%) and medium in acid and body. It's the perfect balance between "I want a serious wine" and "I want something to go with all the small plates we just ordered"...all over all good — 6 years ago

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Michel Guignier

Granite Gamay

Well well played again Psychic Wines. This wine is nearly so dexterous I may be more bendy but this is so complex and layered yet lithe I’d imagine it could do both buttoned up fox trot and a free wheeling lindy hop. Tasting note wise? You took so red sour patch kids and put them in a granite mortle and pestle, added an assorted mess o green stuff. Maybe some pine needles and sage and a pinch of white pepper. You pestled that shit up then sprinkled with candied rose and lilac and blessed with a licorice wand. And then you had the magic product known as Natural Wine at Peak. — 5 years ago

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Domaine de Roche-Guillon

Clos De La Tour Fleurie Gamay 2014

Oh fuck yah mayhaps I’ll always overrate a gamay from a cru. Like god damn Fleurie. I dunno. All I know is I love a complex Gamay. So let’s suck it up:, the red/black/blue notes are in but be willing to gulp more. Let the licorice SPEAK! Love that licorice-y shit. Sup it up. — 6 years ago

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Severn Goodwin

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Love how the '14's are drinking!

Domaine Lucien Lardy

Cote Du Py Morgon Gamay 2015

Testing on a gazillion other grapes but fuck. Why the not cru Beaujolais. This is like someone who is not sure if they are blackberry or cherry but is berry undecided and goes to the dance with you. You are reluctant (still undeclared) acid. Y’all have a beautiful night.It’s a beautiful night time wine full of blackberries, blueberries, cherries, vanilla beans and conundrums. — 6 years ago

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MaJ CappS

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You constantly inspire me to keep my mind open for Beaujolais!
Ellen Clifford

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@MaJ CappS you gotta get into it!

Domaine Dupeuble

Beaujolais Nouveau Gamay 2017

Would it be my go to? Likely not but hell if I can’t imagine gumming it down with a caramel-filled chocolate or (per my somm friend’s analysis earlier tonight) straight up cotton candy. As a Gamay freak I have to taste whatever nouveau arrives in hopes of validating my favorite grape under the most compromising of circumstances. Kermit Lynch filled the bill. While this has the maligned bubblicious notes it is also ripe grape and happiness and dance. If you are gonna go Beaujolais Nouveau go Kermit my friends. Drank dat shit — 6 years ago

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