Beaujolais Nouveau Day means wine specials at these local spots today

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Each year, on the third Thursday in November, the French — and French wine lovers — celebrate the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau. This morning at 12:01 a.m., the wine became available for public purchase, and today, several Kansas City restaurants are also breaking open the boxes of special shipments. It’s like an early Thanksgiving — a day for those of us less concerned with the turkey and more interested in what’s being served alongside it. 

“Beaujolais Nouveau is about youth — these are wines that are very young, and the harvest is a celebration itself,” Barry Tunnell, the general manager at Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen, tells me. “So Beaujolais Nouveau Day, I think, is a celebration of food and wine in a very French way, and I think that resonates right now, especially. Hopefully, on Thursday in Paris, you’ll see Parisians sitting on a sidewalk cafe and enjoying that lifestyle.”

Beaujolais Nouveau is harvested from the Gamay grape in the French region of Beaujolais in Burgundy, and Tunnell is spot-on when he references its youth. The wine is bottled just six to eight weeks after its harvest, and widespread distribution has been in effect only since 1951. 

“These are wines that speak to the place they come from, and the fruit is very pure,” Tunnell tells me. “These grapes are grown on granite, and that gives some stone notes to them, some hints of spiciness. I think you can get a nice expression of minerality.” 

While Tunnell talks terroir, I’m curious about the specialness of this particular wine. Not every varietal gets its own holiday, and by most accounts, Beaujolais Nouveau is typically one of the more affordable French wines around (bottles generally sell for less than $20). What’s the fuss really about? 

“This is as close to fermented grape juice as you can get,” Tunnell says. “I think often the knock against Beaujolais Nouveau — especially commercial versions — is that they were fermented with commercial yeast, which is good at giving a fast fermentation, but it gives an extra flavor to the wine that a lot of people compare to banana, and that’s a turnoff for a lot of people.”

Tunnell gestures to the handsome estate bottle he has brought out for me to look at. “But this wine is fermented with the natural yeast from the vineyard, so this is naturally pure. Unless you go to a winery and taste the wine as it’s being made, you’re not going to find it anywhere else. Most people don’t get a chance to taste something that is as pure as this.” 

If you’d like to partake in Beaujolais Nouveau Day today, you’ve got several local options.

Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen 

“We’re pouring a lot of Beaujolais Nouveau — we have several on our list right now — as well as a lot of Gamay, and we’ll have those through Thanksgiving,” Tunnell says. Additionally, his box of Domaine Dupeuble will be featured tonight ($9 per glass, $38 per bottle — and $76 if you want the big estate bottle pictured). 

“And there will be food specials, of course,” Tunnell says. “Chef is talking frog legs.” 

Le Fou Frog
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Le Fou Frog has three new Beaujolais Nouveau bottles available this evening, by the glass and in flights.  Starting at 6 p.m., there will be live music from BongoTini and a “how to taste wine” tutorial from Restaurant Guide’s Kathy and Laurent Denis (there’s a little more it than swirling, sniffing and remarking on “legs”). Reservations are encouraged.  

Café Provence

There’s a celebratory prix fixe dinner honoring the new cases of Beaujolais Nouveau (Domaine Descroix and Domaine Manoir du Carra), plus live music. Reservations are required. 

Café Des Amis

This Parkville bistro is offering a three-course, multi-choice dinner with a free sample of Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Nouveau at $39 a person. Seating for dinner is from 5:30—10 p.m. Reservations are required. For the full menu, see the restaurant’s Facebook post

Ça Va

At one minute past midnight this morning, Ça Va uncorked its first bottle of Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Nouveau, which it will continue offering by the glass ($9) and the bottle ($30) until it’s gone. Happy hour is from 4—6 p.m., and there is live music tonight from 9—11 p.m. from Kian Byrne and friends. 

Aixois Bistro  

In addition to offering several Beaujolais Nouveau, Aixois will have several traditional French dishes as tonight’s dinner specials, including pan-seared foie gras and beef bourguignon.

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Several cases of the Domaine Dupeuble are parked at Gomer’s, where they retail for $15.99 a bottle. “It’s a massive step above most of what you’ll find in the market today,” Jim Coley, Gomer’s wine director, says. “Most of it is large production wineries that do a quick and dirty version, and this comes from a relatively small winery that hearkens back to the tradition of making it a more serious wine, even though it’s Nouveau. And it’s incredibly fun to drink.” 

Cellar Rat Wine Merchants

“Both the Domaine Descroix and Domaine Dupeuble are in the store right now,” Ian Wunderlich of Cellar Rat tells me, “and I will have Joseph Drouhin a bit later today, so it’s a mix of higher-end and more affordable stuff.” 

Underdog Wine Co. 

Ryan Sciara at Underdog Wine Co. has two different Beaujolais Nouveau wines to choose from: the Domaine Dupueble and the Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais-Villages. “I’ve got both of them open currently, so people can stop in anytime today and taste them,” he says. 


See also
Bartender’s Notebook: Wine expert Jim Coley helps me choose my own wine adventure
Bartender’s Notebook: Tannin’s Barry Tunnell opens some winter wines

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