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|KCMag.com: BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU|
Qu’est-ce qui se passe? What’s happening? If it’s the third Thursday of November, then it’s the worldwide release of Beaujolais nouveau. What started as a local phenomenon in southern Burgundy, France, has aged into a cause to celebrate a sampling of this young wine right here in Kansas City.
Beaujolais nouveau, made from Gamay grapes grown in the Beaujolais region of Burgundy, is a wine savored and enjoyed soon after the autumn harvest. The libation is so delightful that it was given its own designation in 1915 and has since laid claim to the third Thursday of November, which aligns its celebratory release with a weekend. So much anticipation led up to its release that importers had to agree not to sell it before midnight on that day.
Nouveau is Beaujolais’ best-known wine, mostly due to the promotional efforts of négociant Georges Duboeuf. This wine merchant combined the production of smaller growers and sold bottles of Beaujolais nouveau under his name bearing a colorful label. However, nouveau is a cousin to excellent wines from 12 appellations in Beaujolais produced by more than 100 villages.
Jim Coley, wine director at Gomer’s Midtown (3838 Broadway St.), says: “Beaujolais nouveau helped save the [Burgundy] region in the same way white zinfandel saved the zinfandel grape. It kept demand for the region’s wines going, but it has overshadowed a region that has become pretty dynamic in the past few years.”
“Beaujolais nouveau is an inexpensive stepping stone to the truly great wines of the Beaujolais region,” says bluestem (900 Westport Road) wine director, Jeremy Lamb, who won KC Magazine’s 2011 City’s Best award for Best Sommelier. He recommends Mommessin nouveau ($10 retail) or a cru Beaujolais ($15–25 retail).
Beaujolais nouveau’s aroma varies annually from notes of strawberry and a hint of spice to floral and tropical. Lacking the tannins of cabernet sauvignon and other red wines, “Nouveau’s taste can range from tart and cherry to lighter fruit,” says Barbara Rafael, co-owner of Le Fou Frog (400 E. Fifth St.). These qualities make the wine versatile when pairing with food.
Check out the Kansas City restaurants featuring Beaujolais nouveau this fall:
- For anyone looking to savor a bottle by fireside, seek out Beaujolais appellations at Cellar Rat Wine Merchants (1701 Baltimore Ave.), Gomer’s Midtown and Berbiglia (multiple metro locations).
- Come November 18, Le Fou Frog will place a bottle of the wine on every bistro table. “Beaujolais nouveau is a reason to celebrate the harvest season,” Rafael says. “We sell it by a taste, glass or bottle.” Pierre chermette, a Beaujolais more complex than nouveau, is featured regularly on the bistro’s menu. Both wines pair well with venison with gooseberries ($28), a seasonal dish prepared by Chef Mano Rafael. A glass would also be a delightful complement to their kangarou sauté sauce aigre et doux ($29), a perfectly seasoned kangaroo dish with sweet and savory spices.
- Café des Amis (112 ½ Main St., Parkville) will offer a three-course meal ($39) with a sample of Beaujolais nouveau. Two of the four entree options include a 4-ounce grilled beef tenderloin with black pepper sauce and pan-seared sea scallop with spinach and bacon.
Beaujolais nouveau makes an affordable gift for holiday gatherings. Suggest to the host that it is meant to be opened and served immediately at autumn meals and events. The wine doesn’t improve with age. Beaujolais also pairs well with the variety of abundant dishes found on the Thanksgiving table. Explore the many offerings of Beaujolais wines this season. Salut!
SWEET ONION MARMALADE RECIPE
Heat 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 pound spring onion bulbs (or substitute cipollini onions or shallots) sliced ¼-inch thick and 2 smashed garlic cloves to pan. Stir occasionally for 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and stir in ¼ cup sherry vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey and ½ cup granulated sugar. Cook onions until soft and liquid reduces by two-thirds (about 1/4 cup liquid left). Stir in 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme and a pinch of chili pepper (optional). Remove pan from heat. Season marmalade with salt and pepper to taste. Allow marmalade to cool completely. Remove garlic cloves and discard. Serve marmalade with 8 ounces Green Dirt Farm Woolly Rind cheese and toasted bread. Makes 2 cups.