Beaujolais Nouveau originated about a century ago as a 'vin de l'année' - a cheap and cheerful drink produced by locals to celebrate the end of the harvest season. The Beaujolais AOC was established in 1937, and after WWII, the wine was sold outside of the area. By the 1970's, Beaujolais Nouveau day was a national event.
The region of Beaujolais is 34 miles long from north to south, and 7 to 9 miles wide. There are nearly 4,000 grape growers who make their living in this picturesque region just north of France's third largest city, Lyon.
The Gamay grapes that go into Beaujolais Nouveau are handpicked, as are all the grapes in the Beaujolais. Beaujolais & Champagne are the only vineyards where hand harvesting is mandatory. Gamay (Gamay noir Jus Blanc) is the only grape permitted for Beaujolais.
Beaujolais Nouveau cannot be made from grapes grown in the 10 crus (great growths) of Beaujolais; only from grapes coming from the appellations of Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages. Approximately 1/3 of the entire crop of the Beaujolais region is sold as Beaujolais Nouveau.
Nouveau is made with carbonic maceration, or whole-berry fermentation. This technique preserves the fresh, fruity quality of the grapes without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins.
Beaujolais Nouveau is a cherry-red, fruity, tasty, clean wine that is best served chilled. It is meant to be consumed young, within 5-7 months.