Thanksgiving Day Beaujolais: Out with the Nouveau and in with the Cru
White wine with fish and poultry and Red wine with steak and red meat, right?
Well, umm, you see, umm, the thing is, uhh, kinda sorta, well, not exactly necessarily. (Insert your Nervous Face with Sweat and/or your Inquisitive Face Emoji here).
Friends, let me introduce you, if you don't already know it, to the grape varietal Gamay. A member of the Piniot Noir family, Gamay is a delicate and light-bodied red with subtle floral aromas and soft earth tones and comes from the region Beaujolais, just south of Burgundy.
Oh hey, I know Beaujolais! That's that inexpensive French wine that comes out every year around Thanksgiving time! Beaujolais Nouveau!
Well, no. I mean, yes. Yes, that is true. Beaujolais Nouveau does come out every year around Thanksgiving time, it is inexpensive and it is Gamay from the Beaujolais region. But that's not what we're talking about here. The concept of Beaujolais Noveau absolutely put the Beaujolais appellation on the world wine map. It's light, fruit-driven Villages style wine meant to be quaffed just upon release. To get their wines and names out there, the farmers of the region heralded their wines as Thanksgiving-friendly wines, which they absolutely are, and started the Beaujolais Nouveau project to garner global attention. Which they did, have done, and still do. A celebration of the harvest, Beaujolais Nouveau is a days-long festival celebrating their wines. Consisting of dinners, dances, concerts and balls, it is a wine fair of global notoriety. But as stated, the wines are entry level, not at all to be confused with low quality, and are inexpensive gulpers.
What We will be enjoying is Cru Beaujolais. What this means is that we'll be stepping up in quality. Instead of Villages-quality entry-level wines, think of Estate wine and/or single vineyard wine. Wines made with more precision and care; more TLC. These wines can certainly be enjoyed young, but unlike their Nouveau counterpart, they have more age-worthy ability like their relative Pinot Noir from just a few miles north. In a 34 mile radius, Beaujolais has 10 different Crus, or villages, that produce Gamay and each of those 10 have different characteristics and styles in their winemaking practices and flavor profile. Tackling all 10 at once would be a bit daunting so we're going to stick with three, plus a Chardonnay (technically a White Burgundy) to kick things off.
First up will be a Chiroubles, the Cru with the highest elevations in Beaujolais and known for floral violet notes in their wines. Les Gatilles by Chateau de Javernand will hit those delicate violaceous notes and they so named the wine Les Gatilles because this is what they call the small gray lizards that bask in the sun on the granite and sandy slopes of their vineyard.
Next will be a Moulin-a-Vent, nicknamed “The Lord of Beaujolais wines” because of its noble bouquet, produced by Bulliat, a father and son vigneron team. The Cru is named after the historic windmill there in the village, and you would be hard pressed to find Moulin-a-Vent on a map historically, as the Cru gets its name from said windmill and the wines are grown and produced around it.
And lastly we're going full-on sexy with Pascal Berthier's Esprit de Seduction Saint-Amour. Of all the Crus of Beaujolais, Saint-Amour is known as the most romantic. This is a sexy and sensual expression of Gamay and winemaker Pascal Berthier knows it; hence it's moniker Esprit de Seduction: The Spirit of Seduction. Typical of this village, the wine has a touch of spice and aromas of peaches. Another cool tidbit is that local lore claims that this region was named after a Roman soldier, later Christened Saint Amateur, who converted to Christianity after escaping death and established a mission in the village.
Due to it's light and elegant style, Gamay, from any of the Crus, is the perfect Thanksgiving red wine. If you've always subscribed to the white goes with fish and poultry and red with steak and red meat philosophy just wait until you try one of these Beaujolais reds with your turkey! (Insert Mind Blown Emoji here).
The 10 Crus of Beaujolais, from North to South, are:
Cote de Brouilly
See you Wednesday!
The Wine Shop Team