My beef with Georges Duboeuf: Beaujolais nouveau

bojokorea Dear Mr. George of Beef,

“Korea’s Airlines Enjoying Lots of Wine” read a recent headline in the English Chosun. Really, now, do you want the airlines to be enjoying wine? I’d prefer to see you lending your wine’s enjoyment to ships.

Beaujolais nouveau is airdropped on the world the third Thursday of November. I would submit to you that the carbon cost of air freight is only worthy for a short list wines, and one that was harvested just a few weeks prior is not on it.

Sorry to rain on your Beaujolais nouveau parade. I’ve never been much of a fan of the wine from a taste perspective. But at 12% alcohol, it’s an innocuous enough gateway wine. I really do enjoy the gamay grape and cru Beaujolais–that’s a great way to get your Bojo working.

For consumers who enjoy the nouveau, I suggest leaving it behind this Year of the Falling Dollar and getting to know the differences between a Fleurie and a Morgon, both from the same grape and general area but world’s apart in terms of quality. Basically anything from 2005 works; here’s a run down of some crus with my seal of approval. Many of the wines, bought a year or so ago by importers and stores, are just a few dollars more than what the 07 nouveau will be.

With my earlier bottled water ban and recent calculations of the carbon footprint of wine, I must make this year a Bojo No-vo. Stick it on a ship, use lighter packaging and we’ll see about 2008.

Sincerely,

Dr. Vino

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16 Responses to “My beef with Georges Duboeuf: Beaujolais nouveau”


  1. Good points made, but especially enjoyed the one about bottled water. It’s simply amazing to see how, in the space of 5 years, the population has convinced itself (with the generous assistance of the marketeers) that it needs “hydration” in the form of a bottle of water at most times in the hand. The sheer waste of moving this very heavy liquid around the supply chain, when we ALREADY have a very efficient pipeline system direct to most buildings, simply beggars belief.
    I do enjoy sparking water – especially on a train or in the airplane and sometimes with my food – but it’s place is a rare treat rather than the de facto way to – ahem – “hydrate” oneself.


  2. This is the express train speeding away from the short list for the Georges Duboeuf book award.

    Take no prisoners, Tyler!


  3. I agree with everything you say. And I’ll be driving my car the 4.3 miles to BevMo on 11/15 to get me a bottle of Bojo Novo. I drink one beautiful of the stuff a year, but if I didn’t do it, I’d miss it. As for the cru beaujolais, they are shamefully underappreciated. Here’s hoping that your post gives people the courage to try them!


  4. so, lets see, you won’t drink French, Italian, Australian, Chilean wines, imported beers, scotch etc, because all those boats use fuel….get a life


  5. It must be pointed out that George has asked the French government in the past to change the law that prevents him from shipping the wine earlier. Currently the wine can leave only 1 week prior to release. This makes shipping the wine via ship around the world by the release date impossible. However, as far as the U.S. is concerned just enought Nouveau to cover sales for the first week is sent via air. The remainder is still sent by sea to help control costs. If the French government would allow the wine to leave port 2 weeks before release it could all be sent via ship.

    Blame the French government not the person abiding by it.


  6. Thanks for the support, Stephen, Steve and Deb.

    Tom, Welcome. I have no beef with boats–it’s much more fuel efficient. This is something we’ve been discussing a lot on this blog this year. This posting should get you up to speed, or see the archive for “green wine.”

    But just to summarize my perspective: virtually no consumer product is without a carbon footprint. I certainly do not advocate giving up wine from far away–I would suggest performing your own carbon offset to continue to enjoy a distinctive beverage that contributes to wine cultures around the world. And why not try some local wine too to help local wine cultures too.

    Brian,

    But isn’t the whole third Thursday release date just a (outdated) marketing contrivance? If there’s a release date at all, then why not just push it back to accommodate the sea journey?

    Or, since Nouveau is meant to be the ultimate “gulpable” wine, why not change the packaging away from the carbon-intensive glass? Bag-in-box and Tetra-Pak are much lighter and could be made very stylish–and gulpable. Producers would no doubt see the logic that the larger format would make better to ship by air since it would be more wine and much less packaging. I might even think that was ok too.

    So who’s going to make the first BN in Tetra-Pak? Do we have to call in Boisset?


  7. I’ve always wondered what the hoopla over Beaujolais nouveau was. Thanks for the inciteful post– I will now be enjoying a Morgon on the third Thurs. of Nov.


  8. Wow. Have you really looked at the carbon footprint of a 12 hour flight using jet fuel vs. the 30 days at sea using the tar like, hi sulfer bunker 380 that the diesel engines of freighters use?

    Please do not set up a strawman because you dislike Beaujolais Nouveau.

    Beaujolais Nouveau is a celebration of the new wine for the vintage. Take it lightly as you would a barrel sample in November. Raise your glass in thanks that you are experiencing another beautiful vintage!

    Beaujolais Cru on the other hand should rest quietly in you cellar and then be compared with the best.


  9. Kevin,

    It’s not a straw man! I ran the numbers using our carbon calculator. A bottle of nouveau produces 2886g of greenhouse gases for a 3608 mile journey by plane (the distance from CDG – ORD with shortish truck trips on either end). The same journey would use 326g via ship over the long haul. That’s a big difference.

    An airplane uses a lot more fuel and emits a lot more CO2. Yes, the trip takes less time, but CO2 emissions are a function of distance and mode, not time. Just imagine all the energy that it takes to hold an airplane aloft and compare that to the ship, which requires zero energy to remain afloat. While aircraft have to overcome high-speed drag, ships glide through water. So ships only have to overcome the slight water resistance while aircraft are constantly maintaining altitude and forward velocity.


  10. Thank you for your insightful comment. It’s very useful to understand the ‘green wine’ issue, which is not commonly discussed in Korea.
    But I have to point out this, Bojo no vo boom in Korea has bursted recently. In particular the sales of Bojo no vo in Korea has declined for two straight years-assumably, for this year. As you put it, Koreans take the wine just as ‘biginners’ wine’. Yes. Bojo crus wine became more popular than the past.

    Thanks again, from your fan in Korea


  11. [...] Some are complaining about the environmental implications of this event, as the wines need to be flown instead of shipped to get to your glasses in time. According to one report, Lufthansa is transporting more than 1,000 tons of French Beaujolais this year. But, perhaps due to marketing reasons or perhaps environmental concerns, (I vote the former) the Israeli Golan Gamay will only be available in Israel. Another excuse to come here – enjoy the wines not yet available in Europe or North America! However, I believe the Tishbi, Carmel, and Binyamina may be available in limited quantities abroad. [...]


  12. [...] It might be a big marketing ploy, but I do enjoy tradition. (Until I start thinking about the carbon footprint – might be changing my [...]


  13. good for u tyler


  14. Really, Doctor, please stick to wine and avoid the politics. I respect your opinions, but I’m afraid your heart is bleeding into all our wine and spoiling the taste. Wine unites people – politics divides them.


  15. [...] Some are complaining about the environmental implications of this event, as the wines need to be flown instead of shipped to get to your glasses in time. According to one report, Lufthansa is transporting more than 1,000 tons of French Beaujolais this year. But, perhaps due to marketing reasons or perhaps environmental concerns, (I vote the former) the Israeli Golan Gamay will only be available in Israel. Another excuse to come here – enjoy the wines not yet available in Europe or North America! However, I believe the Tishbi, Carmel, and Binyamina may be available in limited quantities abroad. [...]


  16. [...] is in the air today–and not just because it is being dropped on an unsuspecting world via airfreight. It is Beaujolais nouveau day, a marketing contrivance that seems to have less impact every [...]


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