Why don’t we drink more Alsatian Pinot Noir? I have no idea, it’s great.
Although today began pretty much like any other day, a fortuitous visit to Majestic on my way home from work for a couple of alarmingly premature Christmas presents jogged my memory about the significance of the date.
Still nothing? Well, I was looking for a simple and honest bottle of red to enjoy with a ragu of mushrooms and polenta. The northern/central Italian food had me thinking about Dolcetto, Barbera or Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, which are all old favourites, but after a long day I was having trouble working up much enthusiasm about any of them.
Wandering round the shop, I was waiting either for inspiration to strike or for closing time to catch up with me so that I had an excuse for an impulse buy. Over by the till, I chose the gifts I wanted and began a final circumambulation of the stacks. I’d ruled out a Provençal rosé and an Alsatian Pinot Noir, and I was heading back to the Italian section when my eyes fell upon the bottle that I just couldn’t walk past.
As I’m sure you’ve all guessed by now, the third Thursday in November is Beaujolais Nouveau day and I’m happy to admit to having a soft spot for a good Gamay. The bottle I spotted was from the ever dependable Georges Dubœuf and it was a wine I knew well from my on-trade days. It also happened to tick all of the boxes: simple, honest and easy to drink. And only £6.99.
There’s not much I can say about the 2011 Dubœuf Beaujolais Nouveau that is likely to surprise you. It was a vibrant violet-tinged ruby colour, as youthful looking as grape juice. The nose wasn’t complex, but it had lovely dusky, blackcurrant fruit and floral aromas, it was slightly smoky and had a whiff of oil paint that wasn’t at all unpleasant. The palate had light, very fine tannins, fresh acidity and the same blackcurrant and violet notes that carried through from the nose. The finish wasn’t long, but it was such an effortlessly easy wine that this didn’t matter at all.
In many ways it was a real blast from the past, an almost forgotten European style: “only”12.5% ABV, no oak, delicate extraction, zippy acidity and an overall lightness that many people would do well to emulate. I know that Beaujolais Nouveau’s reputation, not entirely undeservedly, has taken something of a pounding over the last twenty or so years and that sales are generally plummeting, but when it’s done right it can hold its own with any similarly priced wine. I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would!