I'm certainly not a wine snob, nor a complete rube either. I'm merely reporting that the the 2008 Beaujolais Nouveau arrived (as always) the third Thursday of November, which was yesterday. We picked up a bottle and drank some this evening and it was pleasant.
According to French law, Beaujolais Nouveau, a red wine made from 100 percent Gamay grapes, is released at one minute past midnight on the third Thursday in November. This longtime tradition is celebrated worldwide with creative "Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrive!" events, from this year's midnight pajama party in San Diego to a weekend of events at Paris Las Vegas, commencing with a lighting of the hotel's famous "Eiffel Tower" Beaujolais red and delivery of the wine by helicopter at 12:01 a.m. More than 250 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau events taking place around the country can be found at www.chilledred.com. Georges Duboeuf is the most popular producer of Beaujolais in the world and the number one French wine brand in the U.S. (link)
Each year, Beaujolais Nouveau is the first taste of the grapes just harvested, and it wasn't such a great year for grapes in France as noted here:
Vintners hope the festive atmosphere surrounding Beaujolais Nouveau's release will bring some joy after a soggy summer that saw some of them lose their entire harvest. It was the smallest crop since 1975.
"Despite low yields due to bad weather this year, we didn't change the Beaujolais Nouveau's price much because we know it's hard for our customers in times of crisis," said Nicolas Pasqua, manager of Ma Bourgogne, a Paris restaurant specializing in Beaujolais and Bourgogne wine, near the Champs-Elysees.
His customers, sipping at lunch, were divided over the quality of this year's brew. Some say it tasted like pear. Others have noted raspberry tones.
The annual arrival of the young, fruity and heavily marketed wine is generally a cause for parties from Beijing to Las Vegas. Connoisseurs, though, say it is too light to be considered a serious wine.
In 2008, at least for Georges Duboef, the bottles arrived mostly by ship, not jet:
This year, in an unprecedented break from tradition, 75% of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau was delivered by ship from France to the U.S. instead of by air freight. According to Bill Deutsch, this measure was intended to help offset the wine's carbon footprint. The boat shipment also helped offset an otherwise significant price increase due to rising fuel costs. Due to shipment by boat the wines remains at a retail price of US$10-12 per bottle.
The fact that there's usually lots of hype surrounding the release of this wine each year causes much consternation from a few. That's fine. As for me, I don't much like stamping out fun, even vapid fun, just for sport so I usually buy a few bottles and give the new crop a try, marveling that the grapes were basking on a sunny slope in France just a few short weeks ago.
If you want to try the 2008 Beaujolais Nouveau, it is available most anyplace you buy wine around Durham.