23 November 2009

Primeur and nouveau wines

Last week, the Beaujolais Nouveau wines for 2009 were released to the public. They're the first wines made with grapes from the 2009 vintage, and it was a very good, dry, and warm growing season.

Another wine that was released at the same time is Touraine Primeur. That's our Loire Valley version of the same thing. After all, the main red grape grown both here in Touraine and over in Beaujolais is the same — it's Gamay. There a weekend events in Tours and Montrichard, and maybe elsewhere, to celebrate the release of the new vintage.

Two cadavres, which means empty wine bottles

We bought a bottle of each wine, just to compare them. I'm not sure I could say which was better, even though they were slightly different. As you can see, the bottles are empty. Of course, we bought them last Thursday...

A vin nouveau (new wine) or vin primeur is a wine released in the same year that the grapes were harvested. It can also be called vin jeune (young wine) or vin de l'année (this year's wine). Such wine is light-bodied, and may contain a little residual sugar, so it is slightly sweet. Nobody has ever claimed that the nouveau or primeur wines are the most refined and subtle of beverages. They need to be consumed reasonably quickly, and certainly not kept long-term in a cellar.

A closer view of the labels

There are 55 appellations (AOC areas) that can produce vin primeur en France. Most is not exported, with the big exception being Beaujolais. Primeur wine can be red, white, or rosé, with different ones authorized in different AOCs.

Such wines were traditionally for local enjoyment, but the Beaujolais marketing people changed that 30 or 40 years ago, when they went into vins nouveaux in a big way. The release date is usually in mid- to late November, two months after the harvest. At that point, the fermentation is complete.

How about a piece of Fourme d'Ambert cheese from Auvergne
with that glass of Touraine Primeur wine?

By the way, we had a very blustery day yesterday and that weather seems to be continuing today. Yesterday afternoon, rain was beating in under the back door, and we could even hear it dripping into the attic at one point. There doesn't seem to be any damage. A strong west wind was pushing water up under the roof tiles, I think.

The weather forecast for this afternoon doesn't look great.
The red arrows show winds from 40 to 70 mph in places.

The good news is that most days this month, temperatures have stayed unseasonably mild. We've only had one or two cold mornings. Low temperatures have hovered around 8 to 10ºC (47 to 50ºF), with afternoon highs around 13 and 17ºC (57 to 65ºF). That's well above normal for the region. But November has been extremely wet.


  1. I remember going to Montrichard several years ago and by happy coincidence being there for the parade and celebration of the Touraine Primeur. We still have the tasting glass. Will you and Walt be stopping around for any of the festivities?

  2. Our weather is similar to yours. Windy, showery but incredibly mild. In previous years it would not have been unusual to have had some snow by now. We would have a snowfall mid-late November and then none until January or February. (The white Christmas is a total myth in most of the UK. I have never known one in my 57 years.)
    I find the unseasonal weather somewhat unsettling. Maybe global warming is going to see us off after all. I would much prefer to get back to proper seasons.

  3. Well, my comment is about the weather lady... I've never seen un jean on a news person!

  4. Judy, I wondered if anyone would remark on that jean. French people, even on TV, are much more informal in their dress than most Americans. Also, jeans are not necessarily considered work clothes here in France, and they can be very expensive. That's always been the case.

  5. Sorry, French interfered with my English when I said "that jean" -- "those jeans," of course. In French, c'est un jean.

  6. The Beaujolais nouveau has arrived in the US too. I might take a bottle to my friend's house for Thanksgiving day. Hopefully you will never have the horrible winds you had in December 10 years ago, or the strong ones last year. That was scary and so sad to see all those trees destroyed.

  7. Oh, was she wearing jeans? I guess I didn't notice :-).

  8. Most of the wine snobs dislike vin nouveau, but I like it, even though the only kind we can get is George Deboeuf.

  9. Starman, you are right, it is not viticulturally correct to admit that you like the vins nouveaux. But Walt and I buy some every year just to try them. Then we switch back to our regular wine, which is less expensive.

    The weather woman on France 2, or one of them, is named Tania Young. She's not an Anglo, though. She looks like a fashion model. She and other weather people often wear bluejeans.

  10. Ken - HAD A DEBEUOF Nouveau and quite good - for a change from recent years! We couldnt believe how good most Paris restuarants carafes of Beaujolais were on our one trip there

    thank you for book advise on Massif - I couldnt find much on Amazon on the subject so this is good - had good advise from Fodors forum also

    found a nice gite I think near Thiers - Vichy - www.frenchconnections.co.uk #662

    thanks Dale

  11. Dale, that does look like a very nice rental. Glad you found it. I'm going to bookmark it for future trips.

  12. More precisely, the launching day od Beaujolais Nouveau and other Touraine Primeur is always the third Thursday of November, worldwide ;-)


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