Boycott Beaujolais Nouveau — drink local wine

polarbearbojo
This November 20, cases of Beaujolais Nouveau will fall from the sky and land as endcaps in wine shops everywhere. This fall, I encourage you to say no to the Nouveau–and reach for a local wine instead.

Beaujolais Nouveau is a travesty on at least two levels, one gustatory and one environmental. The grapes for this proto-wine were harvested only three months prior to the airdrop. In some years, they are not ripe enough and need to have their alcohol levels boosted by sugar. And most of the Nouveau is made with machine-harvested grapes carbonic maceration, commercial yeast strains and enzymes to give it a confected taste. Don’t get me wrong: I think gamay is one of the most food-friendly red grapes and a great value but mostly when it hails from one of the smaller subzones of Beaujolais.

Regulations prohibit the bottling of the wine more than one week before the arbitrary date, when signs all around the world used to proclaim triumphantly “le Beauolais noveau est arrivé” (the Beaujolais nouveau has arrived!”) Now, the dreadful slogan is “It’s Beaujolais nouveau time!” which sounds perilously close to a rip off of a Miller ad.

The short allowable time between bottling and release sets off a global sprint to transport the wine as far afield as Tokyo, San Francisco and Santiago. This has involved motorcycles, trucks, helicopters, regular jet planes and even, in a previous era, the Concorde!

As my research on the carbon footprint of wine has shown, airfreight is hardly the best way to transport any wine even if it were good. A bottle of Georges Duboeuf flown to New York has four times the carbon footprint than if it were sent by ship.

But the idea of a global wine celebration on the third Thursday of November is too appealing to ignore. So let’s ride on the coattails (jetstream?) of this global wine celebration but raise a glass of local wine instead. Wine is now grown in all 50 states and many of us who don’t live on the West Coast overlook our local producers. And many of those wines are likely to go well with the Thanksgiving repast.

So say no to Nouveau and join me in raising a glass of local wine this November 20! Do it for the polar bears.

See the UPDATE to this post.

pixel

49 Responses to “Boycott Beaujolais Nouveau — drink local wine”


  1. So how does Nouveau stack up to general village and Cru Beajolias, I wonder. I really don’t need an environmental reason to not drink Nouveau, but I’m not sure I can give up some of my favorite Crus. In fact, my November tradition has been to drink a bottle of real Beajolais on that day and share it with (and hopefully convert) as many people as I can.


  2. DrinkLocalWine.com is a new site with a collection of blog who regularly post on non-west coast American wines.

    Here’s a post that I did for the launch on Pollak Winery in central Virginia.


  3. Jason – I’m not asking you to give up a cru! Not only are they better wines, but they have a quarter of the carbon footprint of the Nouveau offered on Nov 20 since they come over by container ship. But it’s a good chance to try something local. I was pleasantly surprised by some off-the-beaten path wines that I tried for a recent story.

    Rob H – Great! Hope we can convince you and some of the others to go local again on Nov 20!


  4. An exciting and originial idea–thank you


  5. Je suis d’accord! Several years ago I was in Paris when the Nouveau was released (actually my birthday!), and at 9 am everyone headed to the local watering hole to taste the new vintage. That was great (not the wine.. but the celebration!). Beaujolais cru can be a very nice wine allowing the gamay to be shown at its best; nouveau was and is a marketing ploy … the wine is most often mediocre at best. So I agree… either open a bottle of Cru to celebrate.. or simply a local bottle. Definitely a time to celebrate (the latest harvest), but much more pleasant with a well made wine either produced locally, or your favorite from where ever.


  6. I couldn’t agree more! Thank you for posting this.


  7. You know, I completely agree with you. Don’t buy Georges Duboeuf. But there are some other tasty Nouveaus out there. Jean-Paul Brun’s Domaine des Terres Dorées, for instance, is a serious wine, albeit Nouveau. From a great producer, who makes stellar wine, and has been deemed such a rebel that his regular Beaujolais l’Ancien 2007 was denied AOC status because it was atypical. I’ll drink some this year, because it tastes better than what is produced locally.
    Example- I’m a blue crab lover. You dungeness crab lovers don’t have to worry about me. I’ll stick to my local blue crabs. But I will pass on the VA wine this year. Thanks, but no thanks.


  8. Hi Bill–
    You are right in that there is some tasty nouveau out there(I like Dmne du Carra)but, I’m curious,when was the last time you had VA wine? It is far from undrinkable


  9. Couldn’t agree more. Beaujolais Nouveau is a marketing gimmick whos time has passed. Last year Japan which is the top export market for nouveau was down sharply. The best producers in Beaujolais don’t even make the stuff and their quality village wines get lumped in with Kool-aid tasting plonk.


  10. I have to say that I have had a couple, like maybe two, off-the-beaten-path producers’ Nouveau that have been good, but both were in ’03, so perhaps the ripeness of that year helped.

    What I do think is interesting is the drink local theme that is lumped in here. I live in Missouri. Missouri, like every other state in the Union, produces wine. However, it is not good. I have had lots of it, and it is not good. I should say though, that I do not enjoy it, and let others stand where they may. And some will say that Missouri produces good “Norton”. I truly do not enjoy wine made from this grape. I think that the biggest problem is that in many areas the wines are, like gen wrote, not undrinkable. That is no reason to drink wine, much less drop twenty or thirty dollars on it. If I really, really wanted to cut down on the carbon then I would have to drink locally made spirits and beer, because if all the wine I could drink was wine from my locale, then I would not drink wine.
    As an interesting aside, if I had never been exposed to good wine from California, Oregon, Wash., Europe, and the Southern Hemisphere, then perhaps I would feel differently, but I am afraid that, for me, the bloom is off the rose on that one.
    In any case, that just always comes to mind for me when I hear the “drink local” chant taken up. It just isn’t a realistic option for a great many of us.


  11. Bill – Yes, perhaps some tasty BNs but they are vastly outnumbered by not tasty BNs. Re: VA wine, I liked the Barboursville Barbera. Have you tried that one?

    Greg – Absolutely. If I were going to add a third reason, that would be it: BN drags down the reputation of the whole region, which is struggling.

    Michael – Kansas maybe? Now THAT would be exotic! But you have clearly given the local offerings a chance, and that’s all I ask. So you can proceed directly to cru Beaujolais for this year.


  12. BN is probably the most repulsive wine of all. The reason to boycott seems obvious. Yearly people who know little or nothing about french wine purchase this junk for Thanksgiving and proclaim see I’m trying French Wine. Yes the nouveau is French, but hardly a Burgundian style wine. If your going to a Thanksgiving feast please don’t bring a bottle. As a Francophile I find the whole concept disturbing. Bring a real Beaujolais ; a Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, even a Village wine is better than that stuff. It’s like sampling American beef by eating a Chuck steak.


  13. Kindly Dr. Vino, your argument against nouveau resembles hitting a butterfly with a bat. The annual vulgar promotionalism aside, Beaujolais nouveau is harmless, a bauble. It gives a lot of drinkers a lot of easy, basic pleasure year after year at next to no cost.

    Invoking the carbon footprint as an argument against this simple, short-term beverage strikes me as hifalutin and sort of Grinch-like.

    Of course for Beaujolais grape farmers and producers nouveau is all about direly needed cash flow. But, then, so are most of the fabricated blended coffees that gush from Starbucks. Even if, say, Georges and Franck Duboeuf give us a confected pleasure in good vintages (and, yes, too-acid bottles in poor ones), it is the pleasure of a good light joke well-told. We can laugh; we needn’t laugh it off.


  14. genevelyn- I drank two VA wines this week, and they were fair. Actually this weekend, there is a big VA wine fest in my city, and I will probably go. The best thing I ever have to say about a “good” VA wine, is that it is good for a VA wine, which is rating it against itself. It’s like saying Chick-Fil-A is good fast food, but who really considers fast food to even be food?

    DR Vino- lots of VA producers are experimenting with Italian varietals. Why? Compared to a good producer of Barbera from Piedmont(and probably cheaper than your example of Barboursville’s), why would you settle for less? Of course I haven’t tried their Barbera, so I will take your word for it if you say it is better than all of the Barberas from Italy in its price-point or lower.

    Howard, thanks for bringing my main point to light. Sometimes local isn’t better.

    Michael- yes! VA produces Norton too, and I’m not a fan, and I have tried some that have aged for 12-15 years. I definitely don’t think this wine evolves for the better with aging.

    I will say that I agree, Nouveau is a marketing gimmick, but there are a few quality ones out there, that I do enjoy, and am willing to search for. Being in the know is not a bad thing.


  15. Actually, the Nouveau is being released early enough this year to be delivered by boat. Thusly, a lower carbon footprint.

    So, all the Duboeuf will be a normal boat shipment. Unfortunately, Terres Dorées will be flown in by air because the wine would have to be picked too early and vinified too quickly to be ready for the boat.

    Duboeuf and the larger négociants appealed to the French government to allow an earlier release date to keep the Nouveau at a more competitive price. Their appeal was accepted.

    So, please make an attempt to do some fact checking before writing your material. You are a published author and ignoring facts might be the pride of every blogger, but I’m surprised that you would not make more of an effort.

    I suppose it would be fun to drink locally. Like a Finger Lakes Riesling picked at 8 or 9 degrees, chaptalized 4 to 5 degrees and then deacidified. That’s one beautiful, local product.


  16. Comparing Barboursville Barbera to an Italian barbera is like comparing a sophmore to a PhD–Va has been making wines for a few decades where Italy has been making wines for centuries. I buy Virginia wine because I want to support this sector of my state’s economy and my local winemakers, who can’t afford to improve their vineyards and winemaking without support. I don’t buy it because it is the best wine in the world at its price point–though many Va wines are delicious. Besides Barboursville, Linden, Delfosse, Ingleside, Chrysalis, Whitehall Vineyards and Virginia Wine Works make quality wines to open and give thanks to this year. When I count my blessings of friends, family and food at the holiday table I will include a Virgina wine because I am thankful for the hard work and passion that goes into winemaking so close to my home.


  17. geneveyln- I value your passion. MY point is more that the basis for choosing a wine for your table of family and friends should be because you are passionate about it and that you enjoy it. Maybe if I had a close relationship with some local producers, I would see their passion in the wine and enjoy it more. Sometimes that makes all the difference. But this whole argument about boycotting one product for a possibly inferior product because of a lower carbon footprint, I’m not buying it.
    As far as your passion for VA wine: drink what you enjoy.
    I will do the same.

    Joe- thanks for the reality check.


  18. Bill:

    Tyler Coleman can call for a boycott of Terres Dorées Nouveau on the basis of high carbon footprint. That’s one argument.

    But Duboeuf’s Nouveau will have a lower carbon footprint than a California wine consumed in New York.

    Save the Earth! Drink Duboeuf!


  19. Joe:

    I’ll pass on the Duboeuf.

    And I don’t think slotting a producer that actually fits in the argument makes this argument any more valid. Not when it comes to wine. I eat and buy local every day. I shop at my local farmer’s market, not out of pride, but because the product is fresh and tastes better than the crap in the grocery store. I drink local brews when I can find them, and I do have some favorites. I have tried LOTS of local wine, and have never found one that I really enjoyed. Oh well.

    Life is too short to drink mediocre wine.

    Save yourself! Drink what you like.


  20. Personally- I think Nouveau is awful but it brings people to the wine shop. It allows me an opportunity to show them a much better gamay wine or other french wine. You will always have people that think nouveau if wonderful and will never try anything else but having nouveau in the store is great bait! I live in VA and have had decent luck with cab franc, chard and viognier.

    cheers!


  21. In 1983 when I was on my honeymoon in London it was Beaujolais Nouveau day which I had never heard of in NYC. I felt it was really cool and sophisticated to be drinking this French wine–I guess the carbon footprint is not so bad from France to England. Once back in NYC the Beaujolais Nouveau phenomenon eventally became popular and it brought back memories but it was never the same to me and I never thought the wine was that great.


  22. People still drink Beaujolais Nouveau?


  23. [...] de résistance is his research on the carbon footprint of wine. I was particularly impressed by this post in which he debunks the myth of Beaujolais Nouveau, “Boycott Beaujolais Nouveau&#822…. It’s hard-hitting stuff and a must [...]


  24. [...] you may recall, last week I called on you to ditch Beajolais Nouveau this year because of the high carbon footprint of the wine. The rush to bring this proto-wine to [...]


  25. [...] da credere che in parte ci riuscirà visto chi è che sta portando avanti questa azione. Lo stesso Colman nel suo stesso blog. Se volete saperne di più su questo vino vi segnalo questo [...]


  26. [...] via drvino.com: drink local [...]


  27. You guys have to be kidding. Leave your political B.S. at home and just talk about the wine. Go ahead and vote for Barack redistribute-our-wealth-and-take-away-our-freedoms O’Bama. But leave your political global warming crap out of the wine discussion. And, by the way, get educated on a few topics before spouting your B.S. There is little or no scientific evidence that carbon has anything to do with global warming. Check out the science and skip the hype. You’ve been duped by the drive-by media.


  28. WOW — TRULY INFORMATIVE.. THANK YOU –


  29. http://www.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUSTRE49R3D620081028

    Seems to indicate that French producers are taking this issue more seriously this year. While I agree that there’s a serious issue here, I’m not sure q boycott is warranted. I’ll wait a few weeks, then buy mine, raising the likelihood it came by ship.


  30. You’d probably appreciate our meeting topic this week…

    http://youngwinosofla.com/?p=608

    “A better Beaujolais.” Thanks for steering us away from the Nouveau debacle!


  31. This years Beaujolais is actually being shipped by boat! To reduce the carbon foot print and to reduce the amount of gasoline being used.


  32. Try going to chilledred.com and cityharvest to see what facts are true before you politically blog about them….


  33. Ashley Palumbo –

    (IP: 66.92.116.210 , smtp.myoungcom.com)

    Your IP address indicates that you work for Melanie Young of M. Young Communications, the PR firm doing publicity for Georges Duboeuf.

    You might consider disclosing that and actually reading some of the previous discussion on this thread or even the important update to this post that was flagged at the bottom before diving in with your admonitions.


  34. duboeuf is actually bottling in plastic this year as well. whole foods will be carrying it. i guess it helps off set the carbon footprint because it’s lighter? however it’s still stupid, because some of that plastic will still end up in a landfill, which probably cancels out the benefit! at least in plastic, it’s easier for the consumer to identify it as the crap it is. what a ridiculous marketing sceme!


  35. I don’t agree with the boycott. Beaujolais is a tradition that many people enjoy. To boycott call for a Boycott is your right and thats fine. It is true that people can try local wines, and that is fine. But once a year something comes out that brings us out, something that some people look foward to. Would you say, don’t watch the super bowl, go watch high school football instead because all of the electricity for the TV’s causes high carbon footprint? Or go the the malls the day after thanksgiving because because all of the cars causes global warming? Give it a rest and let people enjoy it.


  36. Whoa! Nice smack-down on the DuBoeuf PR people there… I have no idea how you did that. Sneaky little devils, aren’t they?

    Here’s the Young Winos’ Beaujolais round-up:

    http://youngwinosofla.com/?p=635

    Turns out we really enjoyed a bottle of Villages from DuBoeuf! Maybe Ashley should let the bottles do the talking. The grogosphere will listen.


  37. carbon footprint?

    I get my Joe’s Stone Crabs flown in every day.

    What, you want to live forever? Have a Coke and get over yourself.


  38. I am leaving a message as I live in Kent & have today been to Sainsbury’s Tesco@s & the local Thresher’s with nobody seeming to have even got any Noveau!
    I have always bought a bottle as it has become an annual event almost in our house. It seems though that this year even if I want to buy a bottle, I can’t!


  39. [...] settore del vino globale che stanno portando avanti iniziative particolari come quella di Dr. Vino: Drink Local. Malauguratamente queste dovessero prendere il sopravvento, i danni non solo per Bordeaux sarebbero [...]


  40. F..k your carbon footprint!


  41. Tyler-

    Are you aware that BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU MUST, BY LAW, BE HAND-PICKED? Machines are not allowed. Nouveau is not my favorite, but let’s get the facts straight.

    Steven


  42. Steven, you’re about 3 months too late. I already corrected the post — see the redacting line that corrects the original error.


  43. I just discovered this site this morning and started reading some of the previous postings. I’m really surprised at the level of hostility in what I thought was a rather innocuous posting. Maybe I should just go back to Jancis where the discourse is a bit more civil.


  44. [...] come back with a vengeance, producing awesome, long-lived wines made from Gamay. (Also recommended: Dr. Vino’s post from last year on why you shouldn’t drink Beaujolais Nouveau, besides the fact that it sucks, [...]


  45. Большое спасибо, пост действительно толково написан и по делу, есть что почерпнуть.


  46. Tyler Colman, as editor, publisher and secretary of state of Dr. Vino, owes his devoted readers a translation of this comment, especially since it evidently comes from a country whose tastes were long dominated by Reds. Perhaps the author expresses a Russian view that Beaujolais nouveau is, shall we say, a Volgarity.


  47. nouveax may not be some complex wine master piece but is still good stuff. kind of like a hershey bar, not exotic but still good. i like it @ thanksgiving because many non wine drinkers enjoy the fruitiness. quit being so snobby.


  48. [...] not convinced?  Well smarter folks than us have discussed it here and [...]


  49. Some people might want to boycott winemakers that interfere with natural wildlife:

    http://www.greenprophet.com/2011/09/judean-hills-wineries-israel/


winepoliticsamz

Wine Maps


Classes

My next NYU wine classes: NYU

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

See my op-eds in the NYT
"Drink Outside the Box"
"Red, White, and Green"

Highlights

Monthly Archives

Categories


Blog posts via email


@drvino








Wine industry jobs

quotes

One of the “fresh voices taking wine journalism in new and important directions.” -World of Fine Wine

“His reporting over the past six months has had seismic consequences, which is a hell of an accomplishment for a blog.” -Forbes.com

"News of such activities, reported last month on a wine blog called Dr. Vino, have captivated wine enthusiasts and triggered a fierce online debate…" The Wall Street Journal

"...well-written, well-researched, calm and, dare we use the word, sober." -Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher, WSJ

jbf07James Beard Foundation awards

Saveur, best drinks blog, finalist 2012.

Winner, Best Wine Blog

One of the "seven best wine blogs." Food & Wine,

One of the three best wine blogs, Fast Company

See more media...

ayow150buy

Wine books on Amazon: