And celebrates its 60th birthday!
Last Thursday midnight, Beaujolais Nouveau celebrated its 60th birthday in Paris. This light red wine, made from hand picked grapes of Gamay – that is fermented for a very short time, was officially born in 1951. Before this date, the official date to start selling new wines from the last harvest, was December 15th.
Originally the date to open Beaujolais Nouveau was November 15th – but from 1985 it was changed to third Thursday of November – so this celebration wouldn’t come up on the weekend.
Georges Duboeuf, considered “The King of Beaujolais” is the biggest producer of Beaujolais Nouveau and is also credited with the marketing vision to promote The Beaujolais Arrival Day globally. In his late seventies, Monsieur Duboeuf still runs his firm with his son Franck and believes that the years of Beaujolais Nouveau’s success are far from over.
New Beaujolais, although its sale went down significantly since eighties, is the wine of festivities, friendship and happiness. “Beaujolais Nouveau used to be a fashion. Now it became a tradition,” said George Duboeuf .
Millions of bottles are drank all over the world, although it originally started as a fun phenomenon in local bars, bistros and brasseries in Beaujolais and Lyon. Years back, I remember a prestige black tie dinner at the most expensive Intercontinental hotel in Prague that celebrated the midnight arrival of Beaujolais with local celebrities (by invitations only).
The sale might have decreased from 72,4 million bottles in 2002 to about 36 million bottles last year, globally. But the wine organization The Inter Beaujolais still believes in a great future of their Beaujolais Nouveau. They have the third great vintage in the raw – 2009 was a historic year, and wine experts agree that this year is very good, again.
Import of Beaujolais Nouveau to the biggest markets is increasing, the Inter Beaujolais adds. In Japan, where Beaujolais Nouveau is a hit, they sold 7 million bottles last year, which is almost 19 percent increase from 2009 – and this number is expected to be even higher this year.
United States, the second biggest market for Beaujolais Nouveau, increased its sale last year about 8 percent.
So love it, or hate it, Beaujolais Nouveau became the “Thanksgiving wine” on American tables. It is uncomplicated, light, fruity wine that doesn’t age and it’s meant to bring a pleasure to the glass. And I believe it does just that.
So I raise my glass and say: Happy Birthday, Beaujolais Nouveau, and many more!