The third Thursday of November, chalkboards across France announced, Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé! (literally, “The new Beaujolais has arrived!”).
This annual event is the first opportunity for wine lovers to taste the first wines made from the 2011 vintage harvest, grapes picked just six to eight weeks earlier.
I always look forward to this event, as it has happy memories associated with previous arrivals of that wine, and for me marks the beginning of the holiday season.
The wine itself is fun, light and not too serious. Fruity, almost slightly fizzy, it is a red wine intended to be drunk young… in fact, most wine enthusiasts agree that it should be consumed by New Year’s.
The Yukon Liquor Corp (YLC) stocked a number of cases and, if you hurry, there may be some left to taste. It runs $15 to $17 a bottle, and while a number of wine houses produce it, the YLC brings in the largest and most famous maker’s product, the Beaujolais nouveau of négociant Georges Duboeuf. Give it a try!
By the way, there are also Beaujolais reds that are not “nouveau” and are aged for substantially longer before being sold. These are offered year-round in the French section of the YLC. They’re well worth a try.
A month ago, I wrote the first part of a wine drinker’s walk-through tour of the YLC store in Whitehorse, and I wanted to continue the tour in this article.
Like the preceding article, this is dedicated to those folks who might traditionally be beer drinkers, or have just begun to think about buying a bottle of wine to try out.
So let’s turn to the back side of the first row of shelves where we left off, on the row with the Spanish and Portuguese wines, nearest the cash registers.
To the left of the Spanish and Portuguese, the YLC has arranged its wines from Chile. I need to do some more exploring of this country’s wines, but there are two standout reds that I have encountered thus far that I can suggest you try.
Like its neighbour Argentina, Chile first imported grapes from the Bordeaux region of France in the mid 1800s. One of the largest wine brands is Concha y Toro, and I have tasted reliably good wines from them for more than 10 years.
Santa Rita and Cono Sur (OK, I’m not cracked on the pun) both produce wines worth tasting. And I have become a particular fan of the interesting and complex offerings from Emiliana.
Today, Chile’s most famous and signature wine grape is carménère, a now somewhat obscure Bordeaux grape that has emerged as a real winner in Chilean wines. As well, I have been surprised and delighted by the quality of Chilean cabernet sauvignons that I have tried. I highly recommend both.
Moving to the back side of this shelf row, you will find American and New Zealand wines. Virtually all of the U.S. wines are Californian, though the YLC has listed several excellent Washington State wines—any of which I recommend. I am wishing for some Oregon pinot noirs and pinot gris to be added in the future.
In the meantime, California offers a cornucopia of reds and whites. That state’s sunny climate results in some rich robust cabernet sauvignons. Try the Sterling Vintner’s ($17.10), the 337 Lodi ($21.25) or the Rodney Strong Sonoma ($27.05).
All have the intense, dark, tannic taste that goes well with a steak! Or taste a characteristic California chardonnay. The Fetzer Bonterra Organic ($20.45) or the Mondavi Private Selection ($17.15) are good examples.
We finish the back of this row with the delightful wines of New Zealand.
In my opinion, New Zealand is making the best sauvignon blancs in the world. There is something about the New Zealand terroir (physical growing conditions such as soil, drainage and climate) that works perfectly to produce these crisp, citrusy, dry whites, which work so well with poultry dishes and fish.
Kim Crawford’s offering ($23.55) has been an international leader in sauvignon blancs for more than a decade, and the Oyster Bay ($19.50) and Stoneleigh (18.80) are also excellent examples.
And don’t overlook the pinot noirs from the same vineyards ($21.25 to $27). These fruity, less tannic reds are a delight as well.
I’ll continue my YLC walk-through in a third article but I hope this gives you some more territories and wines to explore, or a partial orientation if you’re a neophyte wine store visitor.
On a final note, an apology: A reader of my recent article on a fabulous wine dinner I attended pointed out that I had carelessly misspelled “Gray” as “Grey” several times as I wrote about tasting the delicious wines from the Gray Monk Estate Winery.
Mea culpa and my apologies… my misspelling in no way diminished the pleasure I derived from tasting this winery’s wonderful offerings!