It is natural for all of us to look at younger generations with an air of superiority. “Their music is not as good”, “they don’t work as hard”, and “they have it easier than us” are some of the unfair generalizations that get thrown around these days. Personally, I think that no generation has it better or worse in the overall scheme of things… with the obvious exception of health care and medicine… but with each modern advantage that solves one set of challenges there is the tendency for a whole new set of them to be created. The Millennials (born in the early 1980s up until the mid-1990s) represent the current younger generation that every marketing researcher is trying to figure out. Generally, they are a group that doesn’t want to follow the well trodden path, but instead, is interested in learning, and sharing as much as possible via social media so they may develop their own tastes.
The wine world has been shaken by Millennials because it is not so easy to predict their behavior when it comes to the types of wines and producers that they will buy. This has forced many wine producers, as well as wine regions, to become more creative with their marketing – by both opening the doors of communication and finding more accessible ways to take away the mystery of wine while keeping the magic. This is where Beaujolais Nouveau comes into the picture. They were one of the first, on a global scale, to find a way to reach out to people with their fruit forward, light red wine that was anticipated on the third Thursday of November to celebrate the end of picking the grapes in the vineyards.
It had been a long held tradition in the region of Beaujolais, France, to drink “the first wine of the harvest” to mark the end of the arduous harvesting period, and until World War II, it was an unregulated wine really only meant for local consumption.
Georges Duboeuf, who is still an important part of the family business today at the age of 84, introduced Beaujolais wines to the world by first strapping them to his bike to sell to the top restaurants in Lyon, France, and eventually, came up with the best way to bottle these wines. Some only think of him as a savvy business man who brilliantly marketed the idea of Beaujolais Nouveau, but he is actually much more than that – he is an unassuming person who came from a small wine making family who cherishes his long relationships with his growers. His son, Franck Duboeuf, has that same sense of modesty, which was evident during my lunch with him after Beaujolais Nouveau Day – a day that included over 150 official parties celebrated around the world. It was incredible to learn that his father, Georges, is a believer in choosing his dates for bottling the wines during ideal phases of the moon as he feels that during bottling, one captures the “soul” of a wine… this shows a passionate man that is connected to the heart of wine.
I remember when I first started learning about wines a couple of decades ago. I met some wine experts who told me that Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau was not worth drinking because it was the type of wine that everyone drank; in their defense, perhaps they did not like fruit forward, easy to drink reds. But more recently, it has been young people talking on social media about drinking Beaujolais Nouveau, celebrating with friends and having fun, which has made me think that I had to give it another chance after many years… around five years ago, I did – and it was delicious. Beaujolais Nouveau crosses many cultural boundaries, from Europe to the US to Asia, and finds a way to bring people together by celebrating a wine that is youthful, vital and overflowing with generosity.
I’ve recently wondered how many joyous experiences I had missed out on in my youth by listening to others instead of trying something for myself. But instead of regretting the past, I find that it is better to focus on the lessons to learn from the world coming together in the future… no matter how many boundaries are thrown in our way. And with that, I enjoy my glass of Beaujolais Nouveau knowing that there are a lot of lessons to learn from this younger generation… instead of turning to the latest “easy drinking” affordable red wine to hit the shelf, how about going back to the wine and the man who started it all with his passion, his hard work, and his desire to celebrate with the world.
Everyday Drinking Wine (less than $15)
2017 Georges Duboeuf, Beaujolais Nouveau, Beaujolais, France ($12): 100% Gamay. The 2017 vintage is a richer one than previous vintages and so it gives more weight to this wine with ripe red cherries and baking spice. It is a good idea to pop a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes prior to drinking as it shows best when it is slightly cooler than room temperature. This wine is fantastic with cured meats and cheeses.
Special Occasion Wine (from $15 to $50)
2015 Domaine des Rosiers, Moulin-à-Vent, Beaujolais, France ($24): 100% Gamay. In the northern part of Beaujolais there are crus, ten delineated communes whose wines are considered so distinctive and outstanding that they have earned their own appellations. Moulin-à-Vent is the highest rated cru, known for its ability to age due to high acidity and deep concentration. It was a treat to taste this side by side with the 2009 since both vintages are considered some of the best in recent Beaujolais vintage history. This 2015 is incredibly balanced with energetic freshness and intoxicating aromas of black raspberry, tealeaves and cocoa dust. Gérard Charvet is the owner of this estate and his family has lived in the area for over a century. Georges Duboeuf has been buying his entire production since 1976.
Fantasy Wine (over $50)
2009 Jean Ernest Descombes, Morgon, Beaujolais, France ($60): 100% Gamay. Morgon is another Beaujolais cru known for its longevity as well as a fleshy characteristic that gives the wines more weight. Jean Ernest Descombes is considered one of the great winemakers of the region as well as being the first grower that Georges Duboeuf started working with when he started Les Vins Georges Duboeuf in 1968. Although Jean Ernest passed away in 1993, his daughter, Nicole, runs the winery today. The 2009 has silky tannins with lush kirsch flavors, hints of violets and a juicy finish. It was a treat to compare it with the 2015s, a similar vintage – some say even better than the excellent 2009s, and a great reminder that I should buy enough 2015s to place in the cellar.