The sale of Beaujolais Nouveau has been officially fixed to the 3rd Thursday of November at midnight since 1985.
However, it was not always so!
Indeed, a decree published in the Official Journal in Septembre 1951 stipulated that wines with a registered designation of origin couldn’t be sold until December 15 of their year of production.
In November 1951, however, the wine trade unions obtained a derogation in order to market immediately their wine of the year under the label of ‘vin nouveau’.
The sale date remained variable until 1967; it was then fixed to November 15th until 1985.
Beaujolais Nouveau is one of the top commercial achievements of the last decades and was initiated by the wine company Georges Duboeuf. Not only did it introduce Beaujolais Nouveau to the world, but also promoted the entire Beaujolais Vineyard!
The release of the Beaujolais Nouveau is an great opportunity for a festival.
The Fête des Sarmentelles takes place in Beaujeu, the historic capital of Beaujolais, where the barrels are opened on the 12th stroke of midnight.
Beaujolais Nouveau, a primeur wine
The Beaujolais Nouveau is therefore not an AOC, it is a primeur wine!
What is a primeur wine?
It is a wine that goes for sale, once the fermentation has taken place, usually a couple of months after the harvest.
It is also called young wine, new wine, or wine of the year.
It must, however, comply to strict standards.
It must be produced exclusively in the AOC Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages vineyards, and obtained from the Gamay N grape variety.
Beaujolais Nouveau is produced with the method known as carbonic maceration.
CO2 is obtained before hand, by macerating 10% to 30% of the crushed grapes in the vat.
Yeasts are added at this stage in order to produce different aromas.
The remaining whole grapes are added once the CO2 has formed and are macerated for 4 days.
The primeur wines thus produced, are low in tannins.
They also have a light red colour with purple hues, and fruity and tangy flavours.
They are easy wines, ideal to serve with cold cuts and at casual meals with friends.
You would have guessed that primeur wines don’t keep, and must be drunk in the following weeks!
The Beaujolais Nouveau production represents approximately 1/3 of the total production of Beaujolais wines.
The biggest consumers of Beaujolais Nouveau are the Japanese and the Koreans, who import about half of the annual production.
Coordinates for Beaujeu: Lat 46.158237 – Long 4.580456