B is for beaujolais

It's that time of year again, says Ofer Zemach, just don't take it too seriously.

castel winery 88.298 (photo credit: )
castel winery 88.298
(photo credit: )
Today is the third Thursday in November, a date wine enthusiasts around the world (and especially in France) eagerly anticipate every year. This is the date when French winemakers release the first wine of the harvest season: the Beaujolais Nouveau. This wine, which has just finished a short fermentation and not yet been aged, is about as close to white wine as a red wine can get. Easy to drink, light and fruity, it makes a festive wine to be gulped, and is also a great transitional wine for anyone wanting to move from white to red wines. Being young and fresh, the Beaujolais keeps the taste and flavors of the ripe Gamay grapes and should be drunk immediately after its release. The celebrations around the release of the Beaujolais began in the local bars, cafes and bistros of the small town of Beaujolais and Lyons. The wine was savored by the anxious population directly from the grower's barrels. Eventually, the French government put some regulations and restrictions for the sale of all this quickly transported, free-flowing wine. From 1938, the year when Beaujolais Nouveau was officially recognized, the official release date was set for November 15th. By this time, what was just a local tradition had gained so much popularity that the news had reached Paris. It wasn't long before this festive tradition spilled out of France and around the world. In 1985, the date was changed to the third Thursday of November, tying it to a weekend and making the celebration complete. It's quite amazing to think that just a few weeks before, this wine was a cluster of grapes in a vineyard. But by an expeditious harvest, a rapid fermentation and a speedy bottling, all is ready at the midnight hour. Over the years it became a competition to see who would be the first to uncork the year's Nouveau. In some places, the wine was delivered by hot-air balloon, in others, elephants, motorcycles, and helicopters were all put to the beaujolais service. Some of the Israeli wine producers adopted have adopted the Beaujolais tradition and are releasing special series to celebrate the international celebrations. The Golan Heights Wineries has launched the Golan Gamay Nouveau 2007. The concept this year is "countdown," a concept inspired by movie-fever style anticipation. Young and dynamic with a beautifully designed label, this wine made of 100% Gamay Noir grapes has a bright red color with plenty of berries flavors. NIS 36. Binyamina winery has released their new 'B' Baby Binyamina made of 100% Carignan grapes harvested in the Lower Galilee. With a colorful label this young wine is a great excuse for any party, just make sure to chill it first. NIS 30 Those of you who want to go for the real thing and taste this year's Beaujolais Nouveau imported from France, The "Scottish" company is offering the Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2007 from the house of Joseph Drouhin for NIS 85, and at the Derech Hayayin stores the first release for 2007 from Louis Jadot is available for NIS 80. ISRAEL TERRAVINO WINNERS Beaujolais ushers in the new wine year, but looking back at previous years' vintages, last week's international TerraVino 2007 competition, which took place in Eilat, brought a lot of pride to the local wine industry. The Zion winery, that only began to market the Erez and Tidhar table wine range this year, won four gold medals. One of the categories in this competition was value for money within a given price range. The Vitkin Winery's Petit Syrah won the Top Quality wine category for the $18-$24 price range; Barkan Segal Single Cabernet Sauvignon won the $12-17 price range, as well as the Best Israeli Kosher Wine (among those that competed in Terravino). The overall best Israeli Champion Trophy wine went to Vitkin winery's 2004 Petit Syrah, which also won the best Israeli boutique winery award. Alona winery won the prize for the best small Israeli boutique. The Barkan Wine Cellar won the award for best Israeli wine cellar.n