Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé! Now it's your turn to plan a wine trip

Maria Sergeeva
November 21, 2017

If Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade officially opens America’s holiday season, in France it’s Officially Holiday Season now, as Beaujolais Nouveau is released. As it comes just one week before turkey day, you know now what wine to serve at Thanksgiving.

Better than this is to plan a trip to France. This a great time to visit your favorite bar in the country, or discover a new one. Any bar in the country will actually fit because the whole country celebrates.

Even famous Paris boats have special offers… with a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau, of course.

More than just a good young wine (which tastes different each year so never will let you be bored) Beaujolais Nouveau Day is marked in France on the third Thursday in November with fireworks, music and festivals.

Initially, the day for the bottles to be launched was November 15, but that was changed in 1985. According to Wine Weekly, the Thursday release was intended "to bring about a more festive celebration", as people could celebrate the weekend. Under French law, the wine is released at 12:01 a.m., just weeks after the wine's grapes have been harvested.

Only two appellations in Burgundy can produce the wine: Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages covering around 11,000 hectares of vineyards. Nearly 4,000 vineyards produce the 12 officially designated types of Beaujolais known as AOCs (Apellation d'Origine Controlee). The different types of Beaujolais range from the good vintage wines like Chiroubles, Fleurie and Côte de Brouilly to the more modest Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages.

There are about 120 Beaujolais Nouveau related festivals held in the Beaujolais region. The most famous and a must, if you a planning a special Beaujolais trip, is the biggest festival taking place in the town of Beaujeu, the capital of the Beaujolais province — Les Sarmentelles northeast, which actually is the Bourgogne (Burgundy) region in France.

The party gets its name from the French word for the grapevine cuttings, called sarments, which are burned in the center of town just prior to the grand midnight unveiling. Then the huge barrels are opened to the sounds of trumpet fanfares to mark the festival’s three-day duration. More than 300 volunteers work for the party to be exceptional.

This year, this is the 29th edition of the festival, which launches numerous wine salons, local products presentations

To get there, you should reach Belleville railway station and take a regular bus line n°35 from Belleville to Beaujeu. You can also get there by plane from Aéroport Lyon St Exupéry or on a coach from Lyon, Villefranche-sur-Saône or Belleville.

 “Behind every bottle of wine, there are women and men who work throughout the year. This celebration symbolizes the completion of this work.” , says Daniel BULLIAT, Sarmentelles’ President.

“Participating in the Sarmentelles is to discover an organization entirely made up of volunteers who are involved all year long to prepare a big event in our small town of 2000 inhabitants, which sees its population multiply by 10 in five days…To make the Sarmentelles 2017 a great success, come along, book your evenings and be assured that 5 days of the festival in Beaujolais replace all holidays in the world!”.

To live the festival in the most authentic way you can stay Château de Bagnols, located in the heart of the Beaujolais, rates starting from $350 per night. This hotel is a historical monument with over eight centuries of history, as well as a prestigious hotel-restaurant. Its moats, surrounding walls, towers and golden stones are surrounded by vines and set amid French style gardens.

Each room and suite at Château de Bagnols has an individual and refined décor. Rooms and suites are furnished with restored antiques and mural paintings.For a unique candle-lit dinner, guests can dine in front of one of the largest gothic chimneys in Europe in the fine-dining restaurant. The restaurant offers guests traditional local cuisine with a contemporary twist, inspired by the quality and abundance of the produce of our local markets.

Another authentic place to stay is Chateau de la Fléchère, situated in the heart of the Beaujolais area, a few km from Brouilly hills, this 18th-century B&B features a big garden, a swimming-pool, a tennis court and free Wi-Fi. With an elegant décor, the rooms at the Chateau de la Fléchère offer views of the park, the hills or the Saône Valley.

A full breakfast is served daily and regional specialties are available upon reservation. You are also invited to eat at La Benoite in Salles-Arbuissonnas, Les Sarments in Arnas and Les Trois Canards in St Georges de Reneins, 3 local restaurants. You can also enjoy a meal at L’Auberge de Clochemerle, a one-star restaurant, in Vaux-en-Beaujolais.

This property also has one of the best-rated locations in Blacé and for the best value, prices strart at $294.

Other areas in France also enthusiastically celebrate the arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau. Lyon hosts the Beaujolympiades (Beauj-olympics), marking the release of the wine with music and fireworks followed by two days of “sampling” the wine. Every year, no less than 3,000 people come to taste and enjoy the Beaujolais Nouveau at the twelve strokes of midnight.

Villa Florentine, located in the heart of Old Lyon with panoramic views of the city, would be a nice place to stay during the Beaujolympiades. This former convent offers a one-Michelin-star restaurant, elegant guest rooms, rates starting from $650 per night.

Georges Blanc Parc & Spa established in 1872 on la Place du Marché in Vonnas is another popular location for the festival. This luxury village offers rooms and suites and numerous leisure facilities, starting from $380 per night

In Paris, restaurants and bistros host their own Beaujolais Nouveau parties, staying open through the night after uncorking hundreds of bottles at midnight. In most places, though, it’s common to have a celebratory lunch on Thursday afternoon at a restaurant that is offering the Beaujolais Nouveau, or hit the streets for a wine bar crawl as many bars have local snacks from saucisson to tartiflette to help the medicine go down. Wherever you may be traveling in France, this is the perfect day to celebrate life, wine, and a grand French tradition.

If you plan to save several of bottles from your wine trip for a special occasion, you should remember: Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be drunk young. But a good bottle of Beaujolais could be kept for six months to a year says expert Lommi-Amunategui. This cherry-red colored fruity vintage that’s best served chilled — is clearly not for wine snobs. The general rule says: most vintages should be consumed by the following May after its release. However, in excellent vintages (such as 2000) the wine can live much longer and can be enjoyed until the next harvest rolls around.

What is about Beaujolais Nouveau 2017? The verdict is in on the 2017 harvest: great quality and small quantities. The young, fruity purple wine poured from thousands of bottles around the world is already out of stock almost everywhere.

By law, all grapes in the region must be harvested by hand. The wine is made using carbonic maceration, whole berry anaerobic fermentation which emphasizes fruit flavors without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins. The resulting wine is fresh, fruity, and very low in tannins. Part of the success of Beaujolais Nouveau is due to the Gamay grape - it can easily make this very straightforward wine and make more complex wines.

This "Beaujolais Day" was accompanied by publicity events and heavy advertising.

The traditional slogan, even in English-speaking countries, was "Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!" (literally, "The new Beaujolais has arrived!"), but in 2005 this was changed to "It's Beaujolais Nouveau Time!". In the United States, it is promoted as a drink for Thanksgiving, which always falls exactly one week after the wine is released (on the fourth Thursday of November). Many producers release the nouveau with a colorful or abstract design that changes every year, usually as an evolution from the previous year's design.