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November 16, 2008

The talk at the League meeting was Beauolais Nouveau which comes out this week. I remember drinking Beajolais when I lived in Torornto as I really didn’t eat red wine stuff so I had this with salmon. Back then it was known as ‘pic-nic’ wine. Not a great thing and it wasn’t cheap either. Actually it still isn’t and it still isn’t that good.

Save your mone and get a local red. It will be cheaper and I bet better quality. If you want to get into the Nouveau thing…ok…but its kool- aid right now.

But anyway for the Bojoholics…like Swiffty…here is an artical from the Toronto Star about Beaujolais.

Oh yes almost forgot…if you want to comment easily email me at essex_wine_report@yahoo.ca.

Tootles

p vintners strive to restore Beaujolais' rep

Article  Comments (4) 

SUSAN SACHS

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

October 29, 2008 at 9:25 AM EDT

SAINT VÉRAND, FRANCE — It's make or break time here in Beaujolais Nouveau country, and the mood is as gloomy as the late autumn thunderclouds.

A month after one of the smallest harvests in 33 years, the sweet, fusty odour of pressed grapes permeates the air. In giant industrial warehouses and quiet little villages wreathed in mist, tons of purplish juice is fermenting into the much-anticipated first wine of the season.

This year's Beaujolais Nouveau will hit stores and bars around the world on Nov. 20, the first day it can be sold under French law. Its release still sets off a publicity-driven craze in many countries. But the fizz of excitement, which peaked in the 1980s, is starting to go flat.

A growing number of vintners are trying to make Beaujolais new again, saying that the rigid sale date and the region's mass-marketing campaigns of the past 20 years have had a perverse effect on their wine's reputation.

Beaujolais Nouveau will arrive on Nov. 20. (FRANCK PREVEL/REUTERS)

"For years the image has been mismanaged and even trivialized by Beaujolais Nouveau," said Martine Chermette, who runs Domaine du Vissoux, in Saint Vérand, with her husband, Pierre-Marie. "People judge us just by the nouveau and they forget that we produce wine for all year round."

The Chermettes are among a small group of winemakers who recently created their own marketing group, Expressions of Origin.

The group was founded to counter what they call "the false idea of Beaujolais" as the source of forgettable and homogeneous wines that fail to live up to their fruity fresh-off-the-vine hype.

Up to two-thirds of the region's wines are sold each year as primeur, ideally fermented through the pressure of heaped-up grapes in the vat and meant to be drunk shortly after bottling. Their prominence has long eclipsed the charm of many of the Beaujolais crus, such as Morgon and Saint Amour, that are aged longer and ideally can achieve a fruity elegance and body.

The 15 members of the Expression of Origin group are from the minority of the vineyards in the region that make their own wines, rather than selling their grapes to négociants who buy and produce in bulk. Some grow their grapes organically. Most generally follow the precepts of the natural wine movement, using few or no additives and only naturally occurring yeasts to pump up the wine's aroma.

"We want to give back to Beaujolais the image that it has lost," said Mr. Chermette, who makes well-regarded Fleurie and Moulin-à-Vent alongside his domaine-produced Beaujolais Nouveau.

Over the past few years, the image of the region's wine has been tainted by scandals, mainly involving winemakers who were found to have illegally dumped sugar in their vats to raise the alcohol levels before the big November send-off.

But a more fundamental problem, according to many of the independent winemakers, is Beaujolais Nouveau's locked-in release date of the third Thursday of November.

It has become a straitjacket that encourages producers to take shortcuts in fermentation, they say, by heating the juice or doctoring the flavour with commercial yeasts.

"People developed bad habits," said Martine Chatelain-Courtois, a Beaujolais historian who wrote a 2001 guide called Les Mots du Vin et de l'Ivresse, or The Words of Wine and Drunkenness. "Wine is not chemistry. It's a slow process like cooking, where you don't put in too much salt or pepper or spices. You pay attention as you're going along."

In bad years, including this one with its intermittent summer hailstorms and steady rain, the grapes may also need a bit more time to ripen on the vine to develop their fruitiness. But since the négociants pay more for the earliest grapes, many growers rush to pick their fruit.

"The problem is the date, which can prevent you from making good wine," said Mathieu Lapierre, who works with his father, Marcel, the best-known of the Beaujolais natural winemakers. "You can't cut things short. Sometimes, and this year it's especially constricting, the grapes need another week to reach their ideal state."

The Lapierres operate in the northern end of the Beaujolais area, on the outskirts of Villié-Morgon, where they were pioneers in using biodynamic agricultural methods and letting their wines develop without additives, filtration or heavy doses of sulphite.

"It should be fruity, easy to drink, not too gussied up," said Mr. Lapierre, standing by a truck heaped with the cranberry-coloured dried grape skins fresh from a recent pressing. "It's a matter of respecting the juice so that it's aromatic, fruity and a reflection of the exuberance that nature gives it in the first weeks."

In abandoning what he called "peasant common sense," he added, many other Beaujolais producers may have killed the Beaujolais Nouveau goose that laid the golden egg.

"Overall demand is falling," said Mr. Lapierre. "We are in the dying phase, and in five or six years there probably won't be a market. But so much the better if it leads to a demand for better quality."

But the Beaujolais iconoclasts have a difficult road ahead. The Lapierre wines and, to a lesser extent, Domaine du Vissoux, are fairly well-known to importers in big markets such as the United States and Canada. But most independents have to overcome the presumption on the part of consumers that ordinary Beaujolais Nouveau sums up the region.

"I can see why a lot of people don't want to drink it," said Kermit Lynch, a major California wine merchant who has been importing low-sulphite, artisan-style wines such as the Lapierres' Morgons for years.

Most Beaujolais Nouveau sold outside of France comes from the big négociants, and "it's so stable that it's dead," Mr. Lynch said. "But when it's well made it tastes great. It's the first look at a new vintage, bottled just after fermentation, and there's something romantic about it."

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