“Introductory” Beaujolais is labeled Beaujolais Nouveau. All Beaujolais is made from 100% Gamay grapes, but Nouveau (which means new) is specifically produced to be drunk young (within a year of release).
Hint: If you buy Nouveau make sure it has the current vintage year on the bottle, older is definitely not better with this wine!
What many don’t realize is that Beaujolais is actually part of Burgundy (where all those great Pinot Noirs are grown). Pinot lovers should give them a try!
The wines of Beaujolais are produced in levels- the lower level vineyards produce generic Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau. Next up in elevation, and quality of soil is the Villages designation. These wines are better, although often mass-produced. At the top of the hierarchy are the Beaujolais Cru wines.
For serious, food worthy, and age worthy wines, look for one of these Cru regions on the bottle: Moulin-A-Vent, Chenas, Julienas, Morgon, Fleurie, Saint-Amour, Cote-de-Brouilly, Chiroubles, and Regnie.
Because Gamay is fruity and lower in tannin, these are great wines for white wine drinkers switching over to reds.
Georges Dubœuf is probably the king of Beaujolais wine producers, these wines are a good value, well made, and easy to find.
Here are a couple (both under $15) I can recommend for your Thanksgiving table…
Georges Dubœuf Morgon Jean Descombes
Georges Dubœuf – Moulin-à-Vent Domaine des Rosiers
If you have a quality wine shop near you, the best Beaujolais are brought in by the following importers: Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, Louis/Dressner, Alain Junguenet, and Kermit Lynch-look for their names on the bottle (usually on the back).