2013 Beaujolais Nouveau Battle

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Happy Wine Wednesday!

If you are in a pinch and are looking for some great Thanksgiving Wine Pairings, click here. Or, just drink what you like and don’t worry about pairing!

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But as for this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau, we did the research for you!

It’s been a few years since I’d had a Beaujolais Nouveau. My husband and I are hoping for some good luck in 2014. So it was time to open a bottle before the new year.

But which do you choose when all the Beaujolais Nouveau bottles are staring you down in the store?

Rob and I set out to try a few of them side-by-side to determine our favorite producer for future years. {Although wines will still vary from vintage to vintage!}

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What I learned?

I don’t really like Beaujolais Nouveau, or at least not the 2013 vintage.

Of course, Beaujolais Nouveau is not a big, bold red like a Cab or Zin. It’s truly not a serious wine. It’s meant to be fruity and drunk young. Like NOW. And don’t confuse a Nouveau with other Beaujolais wines. They are all made with the gamay grape varietal, but there are some serious Beaujolais and Beaujolais Cru out there. Some are even made to age. Nouveau is just not one of them.

We picked up the four bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau available when we were at Zipp’s Liquor in Minneapolis stocking up for Ale Fest 2013. {More on that next week!} Then we rounded up our glasses and evaluation sheets.

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Here was our lineup {uh, right to left}:

  • DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2013 – $9.99
  • Drouhin Beaujolais Nouveau 2013 – $12.99
  • Mommessin Beaujolais Nouveau 2013 – $10.99
  • L’Ancien Beaujolais Nouveau 2013 – $14.99

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What we found is that these wines weren’t really the fruity, easy-drinking red that we all know and love. They all started off smelling quite lovely, like strawberries. Rob picked up some violet and rose petal on the nose, too.

But they all tasted astringent to me.

The most heinous offender was Mommessin, which after my second taste, I just couldn’t drink anymore. We did slightly chill these wines, as BN should be, but perhaps we didn’t chill them long enough. {Beaujolais Nouveau should be served right around 55 degrees – colder than a red, but not quite as chilled as a white.}

We began to feel like we did when we came back from Tuscany. All the Italians keep the good Chiantis for themselves and ship the crappy stuff to the U.S. Same thing here perhaps?

Because of this, there wasn’t a clear winner.

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Notes:

Georges DuBoeuf (12%) – Rob said that if he had to choose one to drink, it would be this one. And if we opt to share a Nouveau next year, this’ll probably be it. The aromas mostly consisted of strawberries, violet and rose petal. Besides the strawberry, I tasted something a little more tart – maybe black currant. As expected, both the tannin and body were light, but there was definitely some acidity there, making it great for pairing with food.

Joseph Drouhin (12.5%) – Strawberry, prune and floral aromas. And although these wines see no oak, I got a whiff of vanilla and a hint of spice on the nose, as well. However, the taste was very tart and Rob described it as “almost aluminum” tasting. Again, light tannins, short finish, maybe a bit more complex than the DuBoeuf, but not quite as balanced either.

Mommessin (11% to 14%) – <–First off, how can you legally list that as the alcohol percentage on your bottle? Were you unsure when you made the labels what the alcohol content would be? Did you make a couple of batches then mix them together? Or not intend to label them separately? I’m thoroughly confused by that one. Whatever the case may be, this was our least favorite. Faint strawberry aromas, light-bodied with high acidity. On the first taste, I actually felt that dusty quality that I like in a good Pinot Noir. So it’s something I would not expect out of the Gamay grape. But that was short-lived because each subsequent taste was astringent and vinegar-like. Ack! Oh wait, Mommesin also made this unimpressive wine.

L’Ancien (12%) – Rob didn’t like this one at all; but to me, it was the first BN we tried that I thought tasted more like a serious wine. It was more complex with not only berry aromas, but also that of olive and white pepper. Rob hates that white pepper flavor that can be found in some Grenaches. That’s probably what turned him off here. I liked the label of this one the best because it was basic and not so gimmicky-looking.

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But when it comes down to it, if we’re buying a fruity, easy-drinking Beaujolais Nouveau, we aren’t looking for complexity. That’s why Georges DuBoeuf would be our winner this year. But only by process of elimination.

Next year, we may step up in search of a Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau. Or maybe we’ll do a Battle of the Beaujolais: Cru vs. Nouveau, knowing full well who the winner will be. It would just be a great way to learn and experience the difference.

What wines would you like to see us review or describe next?

Cheers~
Carrie

4 responses »

  1. I don’t even bother with nouveau. Bad grape juice. The “retro” versions are good but quite a bit more expensive.

    I would love to see a Bordeaux comparison. They have some good inexpensive one in at Cellars right now.

  2. I wouldn’t chill it down anymore, that’ll just reduce any fruit and other aroma/flavor profiles even further and make the tannins more noticeable. And of course it’s astringent, it IS a red wine after all; that and, as I learned through a class friend, gamay is actually a surprisingly Tannic grape on its own, which is probably one of the factors to which Carbonic Maceration has become such an integral technique in the region.
    And let me just say I am SO glad this post started with you saying you didn’t like it! Despite all the advertising and remarks on how great it is with Thanksgiving, Noveau is almost never made as a quality wine (not even in the sense of good quality easy-drinking). The whole concept is, literally, macerating, fermenting, clarifying and bottling the wine as quick as possible to get it out in, as you know, November. Sadly it’s sorta part of the Gimmick-based section of the wine world nowadays, despite the original reasons and the possibilities it HAS for a quality wine.
    If you wanna do some Crus, which is a great idea for a party since the Beajolais Cru bottlings a very well priced vs other regions, I’d suggest a Fleurie, St-Amour, or Chiroubles. They’re much further in line to the lighter, fresher, fruity reds; Morgon and Moulin-a-Vent are both richer and closer tasting to a Pinot Noir than a typical Carbonic Gamay.

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