Beaujolais Nouveau, what's the Fuss all about?

Originally posted on & updated on 2nd February, 2024

Every year, people all over the world look forward to the experience and wait impatiently for the new cuvée to land on the shelves as soon as possible after the third Thursday of November. Beaujolais Nouveau wine is made, bottled and released within just a few weeks of the grapes being picked from the vine. Beaujolais is a small wine-growing area in the Rhone Alps region of France, approx thirty minutes drive from Lyon. The Gammay grape responsible for almost all Beaujolais wines (however, a little white Beaujolais is made too, from Chardonnay).

Georges Duboeuf wine house designs a new, floral-patterned label every year. They also release a limited-edition bottle with the floral pattern as decoration. If you are lucky enough to live in the the U.S., Duboeuf even gives out matching floral-print ties to wine merchants.

But why is there such a big fuss about Beaujolais Nouveau? And why is it so highly anticipated every year?

No matter how big you are in the wine world, no one is allowed a sneaky taste before it’s officially released. For every nouveau fan that is sat counting the hours to get the chance to try the newest wine, there are just as many other wine drinkers are snubbing their noses at the idea. Is it the moment of the surprise that makes this young, light and fruity wine from Gammay grape so interesting? There have been plenty of different tastes released in previous years. When it’s really good, it might remind you of a light and fruity Pinot Noir. If you tend to stick to your favourite Shiraz and hate wines that don’t taste like that, ignore nouveau. It’s not going to be a wine for you.

Because the date of the release is set in stone, the nouveau is often made in hurry and may even only have a few days fermenting. Every year is different, as the harvest season varies year on year. Therefore the time that the winemaker has to work with the wine in the winery can also be rushed. Nouveau doesn’t spend any time in oak so what you grew is what you get.

The tradition of racing to be the first eatery to get the newest Beaujolais Nouveau onto your diners tables started in the Bistros of Paris began in the 1960s, and soon spread to the UK. The yearly competition of “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrivé!” ran for decades, with all sorts of fun and games to get the first bottles into UK restaurants and wine shops – such as this precious wine being driven over in vintage Rolls Royce’s, flown in small planes, a case or two strapped onto the pillion seat of a fast motorbike! These unbelievable lengths people go to such extremes be one of the first people to taste this new wine.

So come on out, and be among the first to taste the new Beaujolais. What do you think about the Beaujolais Nouveau - to buy or not to buy? Now remember, Beaujolais Nouveau is not a gourmet wine and you wouldn’t find Beaujolais Nouveau on the wine list of fine French restaurants. But the excitement of tasting the first wine produced from the summers’ harvest and thrill of the release are definitely worth all the fuss!

And if you need topping up at the end of this article, why not try a large glass of your favourite wine from the Great Wine Co. who have an awesome selection from France, and around the world.

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