Beaujolais Nouveau Day Gets Under Way in France

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If you ask anyone from outside of France to say the first word they associate with the country, some would probably say love. Some might tell you it’s the beautiful landscape that springs to mind. While others might say culture is what they think of. However, considering France has a remarkable 26 restaurants with three Michelin stars, it’s highly likely the words food or drink will be served up. So when the first wine of the harvest season is released, the French were never going to let the occasion go by without a celebration.

Did someone say wine? It’s that time of year again when in France the first wine of the season is legally released, six to eight weeks after grapes are harvested. To be precise, this Beaujolais wine is bottled and available to drink one minute after midnight on November 17. Beaujolais Nouveau, as well as being the name of a wine and a symbol of various things, is a wine festival in France which provides the perfect opportunity to taste the festive tipple or maybe something else. France is known the world over for its fabulous food and drink and Beaujolais Nouveau Day is a fine example of how excited the French get over the finer things in life.

Beaujolais wine bucks the expected trend of aged, full-bodied flavours – it’s light and goes down easily and is bottled just a few days after its grapes are picked, by hand, the only appellation with Champagne which specifically requires this picking method to be able to receive the AOC label.

These Beaujolais Nouveau celebrations aren’t simply an excuse to drink lots of fresh wine though or even to herald the wine itself, the celebrations also mark the coming of the winter months. Like Diwali in Hindu culture, Guy Fawkes Night in the UK and Thanksgiving in the US and Canada, Beaujolais Nouveau is a festival that brings joy and light to what can otherwise be a cold and dark period. The fact Beaujolais Nouveau Day can be mentioned in the same sentence as such important celebrations shows how much food and drink matters in French culture. Nevertheless, it isn’t a wine to be taken too seriously. The swiftly-produced wine itself is mainly for fun. When it’s first released though, Beaujolais’ fruity flavours are hard to beat.

This annual celebration began centuries ago in Beaujolais, a province just north of Lyon, approx 20 miles. Winemakers wanted to celebrate the end of the harvest and use up leftover grapes so they fermented them quickly only days after they were picked – a process which avoids producing tannins, a bitter-tasting organic substance – before bottling the wine. Over the years, Parisiens found out about the wine and would make sure they had some as soon as it was produced each year. In 1937 the French government decided to get involved with this tradition and gave the wine the AOC (appellation d’origine controlee – ‘controlled designation of origin’) label. Since then the Beaujolais Nouveau tradition has spread - in part to the marketing noose and immaculate timing of George Duboeuf and shows no sign of slowing, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the business. As the festival has grown in popularity, it has encouraged all sorts of people to try French wine who might not have done so otherwise.

When it comes to marking the opening of the floodgates for this newly-produced wine the French don’t do things by halves, with communities celebrating with parties all over the country. In the Beaujolais region itself, more than 100 different festivals take place, which gives you an idea of how much excitement this first wine harvest brings. In the region’s capital, Beaujeu, Les Sarmentelles starts on the eve of Beaujolais Nouveau Day and lasts for five days, with wine tasting, live music and dancing getting the party started. The festivities reach such a level that the fun hasn’t gone unnoticed abroad with various towns and cities in places, such as the United Kingdom, taking advantage of the opportunity to spend some quality time with a glass or several of wine and good human company, of course. But why settle for an imitation when you could be living the French Beaujolais Nouveau dream?

If you’ve been planning an excursion to France to take a look at property and to explore areas up close that you might want to buy in, this period of traditional celebration could be a fun and revealing time to visit. After all, you’ll be able to see French culture at its best, with people enjoying fine food and drink as only they know how. We know only too well, having lived in the heart of Villefranche sur Saone for 4 years, it goes without saying we have very fond memories of those special times and celebrations.

There’s no shortage of properties for sale in famous winemaking regions if the vineyard life is something that starts you daydreaming about a new start. And who hasn’t sat back with their favourite bottle of wine and imagined they’re out on the patio of a beautiful French property in summer gazing over vineyards as far as the eye can see? Wine and French culture go hand in hand or should that be hand to mouth?

We even have properties in the Rhone-Alpes and Burgundy regions, the two administrative areas Beaujolais straddles, so head over to the website to see what you can find. Beaujolais Nouveau Day is all about celebrating the best the country has to offer – it gives you a sweet taste of France – so if you’re thinking about living there or just spending some time there, don’t miss out on this year’s festivities when they get under way in the third week of November.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this read, if you need more inspiration perhaps for a birthday or Chritmas, try a wine from the guys at The Great Wine Co. who have a great selection of French wines.

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