Nov. 17 important date for wine lovers
Halloween has passed and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. For wine lovers, this means the release of beaujolais nouveau is also right around the corner. Nov. 17, to be exact.
Big news? Nah. I've been feeling pretty ho-hum about beaujolais nouveau for many years. Although I love the concept and its celebration, I never really quite understood or appreciated the wines themselves.
My view changed completely with my first sip of a beaujolais nouveau from Domaine Dupeuble.
On one level this wine shows the stark contrast between large, commercial wineries and "boutique," artisan wineries. Domaine Dupeuble produces beaujolais the old-fashioned way. Winemaker Damien Dupeuble works with old vines. He does not chapitalize (add sulfur dioxide) -- or does so minimally -- and leaves his wine unfiltered and unrefined.
This is real beaujolais, and a far cry from what Georges Duboeuf and others put out every year. Natural, tasty, soulful and something of "terroir," as opposed to semi-cosmetic/synthentic grape juice.
On another level, this wine is also a philosophical statement from a man who cultivates and nurtures his land as naturally as possible. Thus is the resulting wine so pure. It is throwing some sediment now, but that's OK. I would expect as much from such a naturally produced wine like this.
This is a wine all about deliciousness. Is there such a word? I hope so, because it really best describes this wine. It is fresh, exuberant, with a very youthful, crisp edge.
Far too many wines today are crafted to win awards. They are very much about bigness, density, ripeness and targeted to make as dramatic of an impact as possible at first taste.
This wine is also remarkably food-friendly. Have it with your Thanksgiving meal, but don't stop there. I am continually amazed at how many different foods this wine works with -- even pickled ginger. How many wines can you say that about?
Here is what the winemaker had to say about this vintage: "We attacked the harvest, 80 of us, on Sept. 12. What a joy to pick such marvelous grapes. Not a spot of rot, excellent maturity ... the hands of the harvesters were stained purple. The nouveau is an intense violet color with a fruitiness that makes you think of raspberries, cassis and well-ripened black cherries. The wine is very long on the palate. It has a solid structure with persistent, rounded tannins. For us it is a great vintage."
So write this down: 2005 Domaine Dupeuble. Nov. 17. It should be available about $17 in select fine wine stores. Serve it slightly chilled.
As a side note, at Vino we still serve the 2004 Domaine Dupeuble by the glass. A nouveau, a year old? Yes, beaujolais nouveau usually is served young, but this one is actually lovelier than it was a year ago, more rounded and much more harmonious, though still juicy, exuberant, fresh and delicious. It works incredibly well with most of our contemporary Eurasian foods. The important point: There is life for this wine beyond the first three to six months.
Chuck Furuya is a master sommelier and a partner in the Sansei restaurants. This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org