Dear friends and Pagani,
I dedicate this Thanksgiving post to Night Wandering Dionysus and the rest of the Theoi Daitioi (Gods of Feasting).
Folks who look at the evolution of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday will often point out that the Pilgrims weren’t farmers or they would have had arranged to arrive earlier and harvest in October. Luckily for us, they didn’t know much about farming; and however much the pilgrims really had to do with the evolution of the U.S. Thanksgiving, we get the opportunity to enjoy a superlative wine with our Civic Harvest Festival!
For U.S. Pagans, Beaujolais Nouveaux is the perfect wine to toast Thanksgiving in its aspect as a Harvest festival, as it is usually only a matter of weeks before that the wine in the bottle or glass was grapes on the vine waiting until the growers detected that they were at their peak, and ready for harvest.
Beaujolais Nouveau is the briefly fermented first batches of wine pressed from the current years wine grape harvest, Gamay grapes to be specific. Beaujolais grapes are picked only by hand, as are the grapes of the Champagne region; both of which are strictly regulated under French law. Beaujolais Nouveau also under goes a specialized fermentation process known as carbonic maceration, where most or all of the grapes are left whole and very little fermenting must is added, the weight of the grapes themselves helps crush the grapes on the bottom and aids in a fermentation process where the grapes ferment individually and relatively little of the harsh tannins present in the grape skins are pressed into the resulting wine, as is usually the case with longer aged and more traditionally pressed red wines. All of this results in a fruity and light flavor profile.
It debuts in the Third Thursday in November, no matter when the Harvest begun, and its flavor profile tends to blend well with rich and hearty foods of the type common to the Beaujolais region, or of the sort that we in the U.S. associate with Thanksgiving and the Winter Solstice feasts! The average quality Beaujolais Nouveau should be able to last a few months, and may take you as far as a celebration in March or even May. An excellent vintage (in a good year for the grapes) you could very well keep it for a year! Consult a wine professional or expert near you for advice if you are not sure.
In looking at a Beaujolais Nouveau you should be aware that the California wines marketed as a Gamay Beaujolais, or similar title, will tend to use a different variety of Gamay grape, and as they are grown in different land and microclimates the California Beaujolais will tend to have a different flavor profile than the French, in the end, try both and see what you like better and which blends better with your Holiday feasting!
Pax / Geoffrey Stewart
Some informative links…