Beaujolais is sort of like the classically trained actor who has been reduced to playing walk-on parts in forgettable sitcoms in order to pay the bills.
This winegrowing region of France is best known for its bright, fresh, exuberant wines that are released on the third Thursday in November — wines known as Beaujolais Nouveau.
These are the first wines of the Northern Hemisphere vintage. The grapes are harvested, fermented and bottled all within a matter of days, then quickly shipped to ports around the world for distribution to wholesalers, retailers and, ultimately, consumers.
Hoisting a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau with a group of friends is a great way to toast the winegrape harvest, bid adieu to summer, and get mentally prepared for the cooler fall and winter months ahead.
But the vintners of Beaujolais would much rather be known for the 10 special crus that they craft, such as Moulin-a-Vent and Morgon. These are bottlings that compare quite favorably with the more famous — and much more expensive — wines of the Burgundy region to the north.
The average-sized vineyard in Beaujolais covers a mere 18 acres. Many families still make their own wine, but most now sell their fruit to much larger houses (Georges Duboeuf, Louis Jadot), primarily for Nouveau. It is a business decision, just like the acceptance of a given acting job.