Wishing you a Happy Nouveau!

There should be a greeting card for this special occasion. Can you imagine receiving a card (attached to a bottle of course) that opens up to reveal a sentiment such as "Wishing you all the best on this Nouveau Day!". The third Thursday of every November marks the date that these "en premieur" wines are released.

Thursday November 15th, 2012 has just passed us but that's not a reason to not celebrate -  the weekend is finally here! The LCBO is taking part in Nouveau with 10 wines to hit the shelves. I was fortunate to have been invited to the LCBO sensory lab to taste my way through them. Sporting a fashionable lab coat, I assessed and analyzed, looking for the highlights in the lot. Ok, minus the lab coat.

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"The nouveau release each November is met with more anticipation every year". "We are pleased to offer two Ontario VQA nouveau wines this year for customers to enjoy." Greg Dunlop, LCBO Category Manager for European Wines.

What is the nouveau-style? The concept was developed in the Beaujolais region in France where the gamay grape reigns supreme.  With a quick fermentation and maturation, it allowed these young wines to be bottled and sold approximately 6 weeks following harvest! This not only provided the producers with some needed cash flow, it became a way  to celebrate all that hard work. The 2012 harvest in Beaujolais saw a 45% drop in yield. Plagued by awful weather, it is one of the smallest harvests in recent history. However, from the articles I've read, the celebrations shall go on!

Other regions are following the tradition and we are seeing this style of wine coming from places like Italy (labeled as novello) and Ontario.

Listed below are my picks from the flight:

Ontario

Chateau des Charmes Generation Seven Nouveau VQA  $11.95

Deep blue with purple tones, savory herbs matched with hints of vanilla.

Throw in some strawberry and cherry fruits and voila - you have a highly enjoyable nouveau.

France

Typical of the nouveau style:

Duboeuf Gamay Nouveau  $8.95

The surprise of the bunch and my personal favourite, showing more firmness and structure:

Beaujolais Villages Nouveau (Joseph Drouhin)  $14.95

Well structured with lovely firm red fruits.

If you're looking for a more elegant style of nouveau, this is a must try.

Italy

A unique discovery from Abruzzo and a superb value:

Tollo Novello Rosso Terre di Chieti  $8.95

Quite a bit of body. Primary grape variety is not gamay but montepulciano. 

Ripe strawberry, dried fruits with popping herbal notes. Much more complex than expected!

Here's a link to an older article if you want to know more details about Beaujolais and the essence of nouveau: www.theyummygrape.com/blog/2009/08/beaujolais-my-dirty-little-secret

Usually dressed in fun, festive labels, these wines are meant to be enjoyed young, fresh, and fruity. Ideally, they should consumed by and over the holiday season although you could get away with holding them for longer.  Don't bother laying them down with hopes that they'll age with grace. Serve these wines slightly chilled and enjoy them with lighter-styled foods.

Now go get your bottle and sing along to the Beaujolais Nouveau song!