Beaujolais nouveau takes centre stage in New York

The 2018 vintage, which promises to be exceptional, offers an opportunity to revisit the event in this major wine drinking, cosmopolitan city, where a lot of the wines are French!

Has the launch lost its edge?

In the 1970s, it was all about cargo planes bound for the American continent. France’s regional tradition of ‘vin nouveau’ had gone global. And then gradually the craze waned. The Americans, like the French, had realised that the quality was not always there. Unscrupulous winegrowers and merchants had given in to the cash cow.

Quality and nothing but quality

In Beaujolais, some became aware of the danger and decided to react, encouraging the industry to follow suit. The volume-driven strategy of the past, where wines were sold for a pittance in supermarkets, was shelved. So too were the banana and strawberry flavours. Light and fruity was the way forward, but the wines needed to be good, even if that meant the consumer had to fork out a few more euros.

The turn-around in 2015

Particularly favourable weather - and a very sunny summer – provided support for the trend. Beaujolais Nouveau had become coherent again – and both in Paris and New York, enlightened enthusiasts had realised. But it is always easier to destroy a reputation than to rebuild one, and for the most part, the changes went unnoticed.

2018, the best year since... 1964

The following vintages confirmed the upswing but 2018, with its very distinctive seasons, promises to be an extraordinary year. The older generations compare it to 1964, which was a fantastic vintage. Finally, here is the opportunity to prove to everyone that a ‘nouveau’ wine can be delicious.

New York in the front line

For Americans, who are now the world's leading wine consumers, this opportunity is huge. For many people who are new to wine, supple, fruity offerings are much more palatable than tannic or high alcohol wines. Also, a huge majority of Americans (like many French people), buy their wine to drink within hours of purchase. Beaujolais therefore hits the spot in every respect. In New York, the media capital, winegrowers have decided to make a real splash this year. Their drive to appeal to consumers will run in numerous wine shops complete with tastings, explanations, comparisons, discussions... all in the spirit of celebration that is so appropriate for a wine that champions informal occasions for engaging with others.

Suggestions for successful pairings include Portobello mushroom cake, hot-dogs, sausage/prawn Jambalaya, pastrami sandwich, mild Cheddar cheese fries and bacon burgers.

Alain Echalier