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Everyone, including yours truly, says awful things about Beaujolais Nouveau (B.N.): it’s all hype, watery, dull, insipid, fruity (not in a nice way), and tastes like shoe leather, cigarettes, under-ripe grapes, bubble gum, Kool-Aid and well, goodness knows what else.
Being an old guy (the definition of middle age being 10 years older than thee and a geezer 30 years,) I actually remember Novembers before the Beaujolais Nouveau’s were put on Air France planes and flown to New York and Tokyo, just in the nick of time. In those pre-historic times, there were no nouveaus, no primeurs, no novellos, no nuttin’.
And then came, bless him, Georges Duboeuf, who if you mention the name to a French-person, scratches his head as if you had said Julia Child or Louis Comfort Tiffany. But give an American the names of JP Chenet, the Rothschilds and M. DuB and the latter will come out on top every time.
So now we have all this stuff that’s sort of wine released in Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic and the amount of newsprint rubbed on chinos reading about it is awesome.
A wonderful friend of mine from another journalistic life calls herself a contrarian or libertarian not a Republican or conservative, despite her ties to the most illustrious conservative operation in America (outside of Fox News) there is. As I was thinking about my life and wine it occurred to me I should probably define myself this way as well.
As I pointed out last week, the Wall Street Journal, recently published an article entitled “A Hint of Hype, A Taste of Illusion: They pour, sip and, with passion and snobbery, glorify or doom wines. But studies say the wine-rating system is badly flawed. How the experts fare against a coin toss.” Its author, Leonard Mlodinow, does a fine job. reports that some Languedoc in 1973 was marked “Salable as Beaujolais to Americans.” Ohhhh kay.
Now as my loyalist (hum, sounds like royalist), ahhh my devoted readers know, when I deliver long-winded diatribes on a subject someone in the family at about this point says “Get to the point, John, Dad, Grandpa,” and so I will.
Every year after drinking B.N., like I used to vow after a marathon, I’d say “no more!” But the New York Marathon only came around once a year, and by then you had forgotten the training, the pain, the bottles of Coke hidden behind stone walls on country roads, the cramps, blisters and (get to the point Dad.) OK. So it’s the third Thursday of November, the ads appear and you say “That dreck, are you kidding, try it? yuck.” But then in this week’s WSJ, their wine experts Gaiter & Brecher describe the 2009 as “very good,….[tasting] like fresh, ripe, just-picked fruit, just as they should….[with]…. bright, lively, juicy flavors.”
And then today at lunch, I saw on the ardoise and at the bottom of the reds there was a small scrawl “Beaujolais Nouveau A. Meyran.” This in a place that features wines from the proprietor, bio, natural, etc, stuff. Oh well, my lunch date is late, why not? Why not? You fool, why not – because it’s going to taste awful.
Wine appears. Cold, not chilled, cold. (Back Story: another somewhat uncut diamond old friend (I have a lot of them) married a wonderful sophisticated French lady and one night was so appalled by my choice of wine that he called for ice to dump in his glass, declaring that any wine was improved by this truc.) And, he was right.
Except for this one. Wasn’t helped.
So, I’m walking home after an afternoon schmoozing with two old/new pals from the French Food World and just happen to drift by the Caves du Roy, [meaning the King not Roy of Siegfried and…] because my subway escalator was …. (oh well, you don’t really care about that). And what’d’ya know, they too have a Beaujolais Nouveau sign in front – this place – lighthouse to Sebastien Demorand, Victor Bac, Alexandra le Pelletier du Clary Brodniewicz and countless other wine experts.
Hey, God is calling, non? But which God – Dionysus, Bacchus or Saturn?
I purchase what I think is an outrageously priced but highly recommended Chateau Thulon B.N. made by the Jambon Family – Jambon?, I’m not making this up, well, the Chateau part yes, but not the rest; hamming it up a bit maybe.
So John we’ve asked you thrice to get on to the point. Which we think is what really is your assessment of the B.N. 2009?
Ah no better or worse than usual. Which is to say pretty bad.
Where we ate was at:
11 rue Marie et Louise in the 10th (Metro Goncourt)
Closed Sundays and Mondays
Formulas at 14 & 18 (lunch), a la carte 25-34 €.
©2009 John A. Talbott