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The ‘new’ Beaujolais is here

By Dave Buchanan
Walk into any liquor store this weekend and you’ll see brightly labeled bottles and maybe a banner or two proclaiming “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive´”. Even the most Franco-challenged among us will recognize the signs that this year’s vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau has made it into town. Every third Thursday in November this youthful wine, rushed to your store within weeks of being bottled, makes its appearance to differing levels of excitement. This year, two Grand Junction restaurants, 626 on Rood and The Moulin Rouge, welcomed the 2007 vintage with Beaujolais Nouveau parties Thursday night. Introduced in 1970, Beaujolais Nouveau's popularity peaked in 1998 when 62 million bottles were sold. However, a recent run of poor vintages, or simply poor winemaking, discouraged merchants and customers and in truth the last two vintages simply weren’t fun to drink. As a result, sales of Beaujolais Nouveau have slumped in recent years. Last year, 50 million bottles were sold but sources say an estimated 13 million cases, roughly 117 million liters, were poured out or made into industrial alcohol. With most wines, a representative offers pre-sale tasting samples so a merchant can decide if the wine is worth buying. But Beaujolais Nouveau is bought untasted, meaning you don’t know what you have until it’s in the door. And since it’s not supposed to be opened prior to 12:01 a,m on the Thursday before Thanksgiving, (it formerly was Nov. 15 but was changed to take advantage of the coming weekend and the holiday) even liquor salesman sometimes don’t know what they have. Many stores this season cut down their order or pared their selections, hesitant to spend money on a wine that wouldn’t sell. A quick sampling Thursday of a George DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau ($13, up $2 from 2006) was pleasantly surprising, with a noticeable improvement (more raspberry fruit and body) over recent years. Lightly chilling the wine will bring out the fruit characters. Only 6-9 weeks old before it’s bottled, Beaujolais Nouveau is fruity, easy-to-drink and with almost no tannins, which means it’s great for Thanksgiving. Especially if your house guests aren’t too picky about their wine.

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