I don’t expect many of you need an excuse to wallow in wonderful nostalgia for a wee while on a Thursday, but this is possibly my favourite ever excuse to stop everything and pause to remember the On an Island tour, specifically one magical night in Vienne’s stunning Roman amphitheatre, the Théâtre Antique, when wine glasses were filled for a memorable, delicate introduction to ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’.
Thank you for bringing it all back, Beaujolais Day. Or Beaujolais Nouveau Day, to give it its full title.
The young and fruity (some might say bland) light-bodied Beaujolais Nouveau is released on the third Thursday in November, traditionally in celebration of another successful harvest, with much marketing fanfare. Made from Gamay grapes, the only grape permitted for Beaujolais – which law dictates absolutely must be hand-picked – from the picturesque Beaujolais region just north of Lyon, half of what the 4,000-odd grape-growers along this pretty 34-mile stretch produce is destined for export to Germany, Japan and the United States.
You shouldn’t take too long to drink the cheaper, much-maligned Nouveau, because it doesn’t improve with age. However, the Beaujolais-Villages varieties and, better still, the ten superior crus bearing the names of the areas where soil quality is considered to be highest, do age well and as such might better satisfy wine connoisseurs.
If, like me, you don’t have time for wine snobbery, here’s a bluffer’s guide to Beaujolais Nouveau, should you need it today.
There you have it. Beaujolais: neither expensive nor elitist, just very drinkable and perfect for sharing with friends – whether your wine glasses are for drinking out of or cleverly arranged to make a glass harp.
The chatroom is open later than usual tonight, and has just opened, so if you feel the urge to drop in to talk about wine, music, or anything else, you know where to find us. (If you don’t, please try the menu at the top.)