Tonight is Halloween. But it ended weeks ago. The legions of Martha Stewart, Food Network, Saveur, and more have already infiltrated our pintrest/facebook/twitter feeds, e-mail, and real mailboxes:
While handing out candy to Trick or Treaters, we must give thanks and plot our Turkey Time Tables…obviously.
In the spirit of conformity, let Wayward Wine turn to that standard November red: Beaujolais Nouveau.
Released the third week of November after a forced, carbonic maceration, this tart, fruity red often makes it to American turkey tables. You’ve probably had it and hated it. Past posts have proven that Nouveau can be decent. But its autumnal ubiquity (i.e. overproduction) has damaged real Beaujolais.
So we turn to Juliénas, an AOC subregion of Beaujolais.
Like Beaujolais Nouveau, Juliénas makes red wine from Gamay grapes. But any other similarities end there. Juliénas is made like real wine (unlike Nouveau), with yeast, oak, and patience. Of the ten Beaujolais crus, Juliénas is famed for its density, spice. and misty, historic relation to Julius Caesar.
For this Thanksgiving in October we crack open the Henry Ford of Beaujolais: Georges DuBoeuf. Since crushing grapes at age 6, the now 80 year old DuBoeuf runs a 2.5 million case empire of Beaujolais for the masses.
Let’s find out how his Juliénas holds up to Fall’s fare.
Our baked acorn squash with a caramelized, toffee-like, maple syrup, dark brown sugar glaze tastes amazing….alone. All that sugary glaze renders the wine empty and bitter: like high school.
Yet in wine-isolation, we learn to respect to DuBoeuf. His Juliénas is a properly dark, dry, complex, brambly red that lacks the residual sugar to bend to such sweet fare. He declared 2009 the Vintage of a Lifetime. For around $13, this wine firmly struts its stuff.
So we up our game. We go savory with Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Ravioli. Worried even it may be too sweet, we concoct a browned butter sauce with lavender, lemon juice, pine nuts, and lashings of salty Parmesan. Garlic potatoes and carrots provide the side.
The side of roasted, salted, garlic-ed potatoes and carrots make the wine fruitier and softer.
With the main, butter and savory lavender subsume our palates up front. Next, the wine’s acidity and minerals, like superheros, obliterate the fat. But immediately, the sauce’s lemon squeeze checks that food-hungry acid. As planned, the salt of Parmesan cools its tannins.
We chew through the ravioli. The honeyed pumpkin emerges. But now it melds with the dark bramble fruit of the Juliénas, creating a soft harmony of grape and gourd that lingers, pleasantly, for minutes.
Neither wine nor dish overwhelm each other. Everyone gently holds hands in formal dance. The room feels cosy, crowded, but ordered: warmed by wine, candles, and fireplace. It’s Jane Austen‘s Netherfield Ball in Pride and Prejudice:
But before Mary plays the piano, or Darcy and Lizzy battle, STOP serving this wine before dessert. We already learned that caramelized squash kills it. Imagine Pecan Pie with a side of carbonic acid. Anything sweet will end in puckered mouths and embittered exchanges.
Instead, serve George DuBoeuf‘s 2009 Juliénas with Thanksgiving’s gravies, turkeys, buttered biscuits, and mashed potatoes: they will step in time with this red. Even if today is Halloween.
- Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas & How To Host Thanksgiving | Pottery Barn (potterybarn.com)
- Beaujolais: There’s More to It Than Nouveau (vinesse.com)
- Celebrating With the Season’s First Wine (vinesse.com)
- Bo-jo-nanza! (streetcarwines.com)
- It’s Beaujolais Day! (sarabozich.com)
- Join in the Beaujolais Nouveau Revival! (denboerwines.wordpress.com)
- Beaujolais Day 2011 (sarabozich.com)
- Red Wine Basics: Gamay Wine (giftblog.arttowngifts.com)
Excellent and very poetic description. 2009 Beaujolais are excellent, and based on your description I’m almost ready to drop everything and run to the store to get it : )
The 2009s are showing wonderfully. I wanted to feature a Morgon, but they’re a bit pricy for the rest of us. Thanks!
Stopped at Caesar – must know relationship – wife Julia’s family have vineyards? Very specific food with this one
Caesar’s troops supposedly were the first romans to plant in Julienas during the Gallic Wars. Foodwise, this wine demands salt and savory quite surely.
My wine club is “studying” Cru Beaujolais next week . . . can’t wait! Thanks for the early primer!! I still need to buckle down and do my research. Salud!!
Thanks! Sound like a great wine club! To glue the Crus to your brain, come up with your own mnemonic:
Just Saints Can Mill Flat Cherries More Ready Cut Broadly
Just (Julienas), Saints (Saint-Amour), Can (Chenas), Mill (Moulin A Vent), Flat (Fleurie), Cherries (Chiroubles), More (Morgon), Ready (Regnie), Cut (Cote de Brouilly), Broadly (Brouilly)
This goes N to S and will make sure your gray matter recognizes who’s Cru.
I love this . . . will share with my wine group! Thanks! :o)
Pingback: Thanksgiving Wine: Gran Moraine, Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon 2013 | WAYWARD WINE