Wine Talk: An excuse for a party

Corks will be popping at midnight on Wednesday as celebrations of 2011’s Beaujolais Nouveau commence.

scenic winery 311 (photo credit: MCT)
scenic winery 311
(photo credit: MCT)
Beaujolais Nouveau celebrations begin on the night of Wednesday, November 16. Wine lovers will be able to taste imported Beaujolais, as well as Israeli wines made in the Beaujolais style, to celebrate this year’s first wines. The 2011 harvest in Israel was particularly long this year and has only just finished, but Beaujolais Nouveau does not wait for anyone, and the wine is released at the same time every year.
The main imported Beaujolais wines that will be available are produced by Georges Duboeuf, who is known as the king of Beaujolais, and Louis Jadot, a merchant famous throughout the Burgundy region. Their new Beaujolais Nouveau wines from the 2011 vintage will be launched, as is the tradition, on the third Thursday in November. Corks will be popping at midnight on the night of November 16/17.
Israeli wineries also produce Beaujolais-style wines. These include B by Binyamina and Tishbi Junior. The Binyamina wine is made 100 percent from Carignan grapes. If there were a national grape variety for Israel, this would be it. The wine will be light, fruity and certainly gluggable. The Binyamina Winery was founded in 1952 and is situated in the center of Binyamina. It is the fourth-largest winery in Israel.
Not far away at the Zichron Ya’acov end of Binyamina, the Tishbi Winery will also be launching its Beaujolais- style wine. This is called Tishbi Junior. Tishbi is a family winery of growers who first planted vineyards at the end of the 19th century. The Tishbi Winery was founded in 1985.
However, even these will not be the first Israeli wines of the 2011 harvest. That honor belongs to the Golan Moscato, Young Selected Moscato and Young Selected Carignano. These wines are sweetish, slightly sparkling and low in alcohol. They are perfect for a brunch and are wines that will be appreciated by the whole family. The Moscatos are white, and the Carignano is red. These wines may justifiably be part of the celebration of the new harvest, even if tradition states that the party revolves around Beaujolais.
Beaujolais is a region in France that is a southern extension of Burgundy on the way to Lyon. It is a very pretty, hilly region with unspoiled villages and is known for its light, fruity, refreshing, easy-to-drink red wines. The unique style of wine is made by carbonic maceration, whereby whole bunches of Gamay grapes are fermented under a layer of gas. The result is the unique style of red wine that is almost like a white. It is fruity but without any hint of tannin or astringency.
The name Beaujolais Nouveau has become the byword for quaffable wines, slightly to the detriment of the other, rather better quality wines that the region is less known for. Some of the Cru Beaujolais are great wines in their own right. Those with attractive names such as Fleurie, St. Amour, Julienas, Chiroubles and Moulin à Vent are worth seeking out, but Beaujolais is mainly associated with the Nouveau festival.
Beaujolais Nouveau started partly as a way to celebrate the wines of the last harvest, but it became a gimmick to help sell more wine. This tactic was too successful because the famous Beaujolais races to get the new bottles to the customer in time became more well known than the wine itself. Thankfully, things are a little more in proportion these days.
Many wine snobs look down at the Beaujolais Nouveau wine as representing everything that someone who really understands wine would never drink. For me, it is a fun day on the wine calendar that reminds us not to take our wine passion too seriously. It helps us to remember that wine does not have to be sophisticated and may be enjoyed without pretension.
You could pass up the evening by going to a Beaujolais party. Many wine shops will be hosting an event to celebrate the occasion. One such place is Bin 281 on Dizengoff Street. This is best new wine venue in Tel Aviv. This center incorporates a quality wine store, a wine bar with great atmosphere and a rather grand tasting room. It offers some great-value wines, whether Israeli or imported, and some light but very good food. Bin 281 will start its Beaujolais party at 9 p.m. on November 16, offering discounts and attractive promotions. At midnight they will be drawing the corks of those first Beaujolais wines.
Let the party begin!
Adam Montefiore works for the Carmel Winery and writes about wine for Israeli and international publications.Email him at [email protected]