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A Wine Lover's Nearly Weekly Review Of $15 Wine - A Beaujolais Villages Nouveau 2009

This article treats one of the surest signs of November; the French red wine that arrives right on time for Thanksgiving, Beaujolais Nouveau. This wine is released for sale right after the stroke of midnight on the third Thursday in November. During the following 24 hours over one million cases will be sold. Millions of additional cases will be sold before the season's end. Red Beaujolais (Nouveau or not) is based on the Gamay grape, a variety that was forbidden in neighboring Burgundy way back in 1395. This wine comes from specially designated areas (villages) in the Beaujolais region of southeastern France and like all Beaujolais wine comes from hand-picked grapes.

New wine is based on a special production process, carbonic maceration, in which whole grapes ferment in a stainless steel tank containing carbon dioxide. The resultant wine has no tannins, which means that it won't keep. Even those who sell and love this wine manage to tell you that it does not age well. Joseph Drouhin is an upscale Burgundy wine producer. None of his other wines available in my region come within the $15 limit of this series, and most of his wine is considerably more expensive.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2009 12.5% about $14 Because the supplier did not include any marketing materials I'll quote the back label. "This Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau, selected for its fruitiness and elegance, has been bottled very early to capture the unpolished character of its youth. Precipitation of some sediment may occur and should be considered as a natural process. This wine should be served cool (14º C, 57º F) and drunk very young : its charm could fade away by next spring." And now for my reactions.

At the first sips this wine was grapey and raw but somewhat long. It did have a more pleasant finish. The first pairing was with sweet and sour chicken wings, chicken hamburgers accompanied by a tomato, onion, lime, and cilantro salsa, and potatoes roasted in chicken fat. With the wings the wine was dark and round, and tasted of dark cherries. It had very slight carbonation and a bit of chocolate. When facing the dry hamburgers that were doused with the salsa, the wine was surprisingly long and almost round but really not up to snuff. With the potatoes the Beaujolais's fizziness returned but it was harsh and raw.  The next meal consisted of a slow-cooked beef stew and soft wheat kernels. The wine was round. It tasted of dark cherries. But it was too sweet and its acidity was harsh. A spicy green jalapeno pepper sauce intensified the cherry taste.

The final meal was a packaged eggplant rolatini with tomatoes, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese that I slathered with grated Parmesan. The wine was grapey. I's acidity was slightly harsh; it was raw.

Before trying out the traditional two cheeses I had some homemade roasted eggplant with lots of garlic. The wine was round and fairly pleasant except that now a bubble gum flavor, often associated with Beaujolais Nouveau is starting to surface. The first cheese was a brick. Now that dreaded bubble gum came out of hiding and dominated the rest. The final pairing was with a Swiss cheese. The wine definitely improved; it became fruity and the bubble gum was gone.

Final verdict. I'm always ready to enjoy a wine, independent of past experience. But frankly, as always I was not surprised. I won't be buying this Beaujolais Nouveau again, even if it is supposed to be a better quality product. Keep posted, we will surely find some excellent $15 wines, just as we have discovered some excellent $10 wines.


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In his younger days Levi Reiss wrote or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but he prefers drinking fine German or other wine with the right foods and the right people. He teaches computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his global wine website http://www.theworldwidewine.com with a weekly column reviewing $10 wines and new sections writing about
(theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.