Beaujolais - The Newest Arrivals

The start of November annually rings in the season for Beaujolais, the first wines from each harvest. Yonatan Sternberg offers pairings for a number of Israeli and foreign selections.

“Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!” (The new Beaujolais has arrived!). Every year, on the third Thursday of the month of November, wine aficionados, vintners and winemakers across the globe celebrate the release of the first wines from the recent harvest.

Last week (the night between Wednesday the 17th and Thursday the 18th) wine traders, wine stores and wineries threw Beaujolais themed parties throughout the country. Unfortunately, I was a bit ill and was not able to attend but several people mentioned that it was a blast.

The wine receives its name from the Beaujolais province of France which is situated just north of Lyon and is considered by many as part of the celebrated Burgundy wine region. The Beaujolais Nouveau usually ranges from purple to pink in color and is a rather light weight wine characterized by very refreshing and fruity aromas and flavors.
These wines are intended for immediate consumption and should be served slightly chilled.

Many wine aficionados have criticized the production of Beaujolais wines, considering them immature or lacking any true intrigue. While this is true for the most part there are, in fact, some very interesting and even relatively high quality Beaujolais wines produced in France.

The first Beaujolais style wine in Israel was produced by the Carmel winery in 1983 and was titled 'Hilulim'. Today, there are three Israeli wineries producing their version of a Beaujolais Nouveau, from the recently completed harvest, namely: Binyamina, Golan Heights and the Tishbi winery.

Binyamina’s first wine from the 2010 vintage is a Beaujolais-style wine, simply titled "B" for baby, hinting at the youthful nature of the wine. Binyamina's version, produced for the 6th consecutive year, is made using 100% Carignan grapes, a grape variety originally cultivated in Spain and then transplanted to Israel. As expected the wine is light and fruity suggesting strawberries and young plums. The winery recommends serving this red with light appetizers or piquant Asian style dishes.

The Golan Heights recently released a sweet Moscato (white) wine as part of their Golan label, hence the Golan Gamay Nouveau 2010 is the winery’s first red offering from the latest harvest. The wine is made using 100% Gamay Noir grapes, making it the only Israeli wine produced from this grape variety traditionally used in the Beaujolais region of France. Similar to previous years, the winery’s graphic artists have worked overtime, bringing us a very colorful and fun collection. Golan Heights recommends serving the wine alongside pizza, taco dishes and hamburgers.

Tishbi Winery also launched their Beaujolais style wine for the 11th consecutive year. Titled "Tishbi Junior 2010" the wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grown in vineyards surrounding Zichron Yaakov. Serve chilled alongside cheese or cold cut sandwiches or stir fried dishes.

If you would rather go for something from the import department, you can try the Joseph Drouhin, Beaujolais Nouveau, Villages, 2010, imported by the Scottish Company. By the way, due to strict laws set by French wine organizations, the new Beaujolais wines are only released from the winery four days prior to the official launching event.