Beaujolais nouveau wine is back in fashion – Alistair Gibson

Beaujolais-Villages Combe aux Combe 2017 Louis Jadot
Beaujolais-Villages Combe aux Combe 2017 Louis Jadot

It may well have passed you by but last Thursday was the third Thursday of the month, the traditional release date of Beaujolais nouveau every year.

It’s fair to say that Beaujolais nouveau does not quite enjoy the appeal that it once did.

Moulin--Vent Les Rouchaux 2015, Thibault Liger-Belair

Moulin--Vent Les Rouchaux 2015, Thibault Liger-Belair

The 1980s saw it at its height with races to be the first one to bring new wine back. There were breakfast parties dedicated to it and Beaujolais nouveau even had a starring role in Only Fools and Horses.

There are several reasons for its demise, not least the fact that the production of nouveau became so great that quality was duly effected.

And since the 1980s there has been the advent of New World wines, which are taking up more and more shelf space with flavours that more instantly appeal.

But – whisper it very quietly – the past couple of years have seen a renewed glimmer of interest in Beaujolais nouveau, which is undoubtedly a reflection of the interest in the wines of Beaujolais as a whole, rather than just about nouveau.

There is definitely a move towards lighter style reds by many drinkers and of course Beaujolais fits that profile very nicely.

Situated at the southern end of Burgundy and north of the gastronomic city of Lyon, the red wines of Beaujolais – there is also a little, seldom seen white produced from chardonnay – are produced from gamay, and can vary from simple, fruity wines to the more complex, age-worthy reds of some of the 10 Beaujolais crus.

Beaujolais-Villages ‘Combe aux Combe’ 2017, Louis Jadot (Tesco £11 but on offer at £8.50 until December 26) is produced by one of the most well-known wine merchants in Burgundy and is a lovely introduction to this style. There are a relatively high proportion of grapes added into this blend from some of the 10 cru villages, which adds to the quality of this wine.

It offers red berries on the bouquet, followed by more, ripe red fruits on the palate with some nice crunchy acidity before a very satisfying, juicy finish.

You could try chilling this slightly and then match with a country-style paté or a mid-week dinner of grilled Toulouse sausages and lentils.

Moulin-à-Vent Les Rouchaux 2015, Thibault Liger-Belair (£22.50 Berry Bros &Rudd) is an altogether more serious wine and shows the heights that this region can reach.

Moulin-à-Vent is one of the 10 cru villages and it’s nice to see a Beaujolais with some bottle age. 

Still dark in colour, there are notes of raspberries and black cherries and a little spice on the bouquet followed by quite a powerful mouth-feel with spice and sweet fruit, but still retaining freshness on the finish.

I think it would probably develop for another few years but it is delicious right now and would be wonderful with a Sunday roast beef, maybe confit duck, or that classic burgundy dish of coq au vin.