We've tasted some pretty terrible Beaujolais Nouveau wines, released each fall reeking of Banana Runts and bubblegum. (The weird banana aroma is the result of a certain yeast that is commonly used to kick off fermentation, and the bubblegum can come from the covered-tank carbonic maceration process used to ferment these wines.)
But we understand the urge to celebrate the harvest with wines that were just harvested. It just seems right for Thanksgiving. So while we'll always recommend Cru Beaujolais over the Nouveau stuff based on flavor alone, we dove back in to try this year's options in freshly-available Beaujolais Nouveau.
Here are the best of the bunch:
Maison PUR Beaujolais-Nouveau ($18) is an old vine single vineyard Gamay, destemmed and fermented in cement tanks, with no sulfur added at fermentation or bottling. It has a beautiful vivid freshness: piercing tart cranberry and ripe berry core, focus and texture—but most importantly, it's tasty to drink on its own or with a giant plate of turkey and stuffing. If you're going to seek out one Beaujolais Nouveau this year, this should be the one—it's also available in big bottles, which are guaranteed to improve everyone's mood.
You might have a slightly easier time tracking down Jean Foillard 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau ($20), our runner-up for best Beaujolais Nouveau this year. It's made from 40 to 60 year old gamay vines not far from Morgon. The wine is bright (think soft cranberries), juicy (think black cherries), and super easy to drink, with a crack of black pepper flavor that will make it go seamlessly with the Thanksgiving meal. It has a little more dark fruit flavor than the PUR, but it's not as serious or earthy as Foillard's amazing (but pricier) wines.
Domaine Dupeuble has been making wine since 1512, so Domaine Dupeuble 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau ($17.50) is a way to taste the present and the past all at once. The vines for this wine range from fifty to a hundred years old, but the flavor here is all about youth: fresh strawberries just beginning to cook into jam, a squeeze of lemon, and maybe a hint of cherry chapstick.
Or Celebrate the Local Harvest Instead!
If you're looking for a spin on tradition, see if your favorite local winery is releasing its own small-batch harvest celebration wine. Poe Wines from the Anderson Valley in California made a pretty darn delicious Pinot Nouveau. In Oregon, you'll find freshly bottled 2013 gamay from Division and Bow & Arrow. In New York, Macari Vineyards releases an 'Early Wine' made with Chardonnay (you can read more about it in Edible Manhattan.)
Do you drink Beaujolais Nouveau each fall?