20 November, 2009

The Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived!

Here is some of what I passed this misty morning, on the way to the soulless but well-stocked DIY megamart. It has been a busy time around here (she says aplogetically, thinking of the week's lapse in blogging). Among other home improvement activities, we have partly papered one of the bedrooms--but this is paper with an Arts and Crafts pedigree, mind you: a brick-red abstract 1860s Morris print (designed by Mr. Morris for his own turreted, medievalish Red House outside London, where the dreamy Pre-Raphaelites would later cluster). Another bedroom is now partly covered in a dove-grey paper from The Little Greene, which is based upon an old Parasol Pine kimono print. There is clearly Orientalism in the rendering, but the Parasol Pine is ubiquitous in the Mediterranean countries, and is also in my garden. Having wallpaper feels a bit shocking, as the house is a rambling old country home, the type known here as a mas. (And you pronounce that 's' at the end of the word.) Up to now, the walls have always been a blinding, lime-washed white. Think of a holiday home in Greece or Tunisia. That kind of thick-walled whiteness. Now I am going a little crazy with color, perhaps to pre-emptively reduce the deadening effect of the long winter season. I am thinking about winter and cold, but autumn has so far been uncommonly mild, so I can still enjoy the saturated hues of the leaves, mostly on most of the trees. I'm even warmer than usual at the moment, as I have just returned from a festive village tasting of the Beaujolais Nouveau. It was, as always, officially released on the third thursday of November, which was yesterday. This is mere weeks after being bottled. Consisting exclusively of Gamay grape production (from just north of Lyon), it's a wine that must be drunk while young--that is, well within a year of being bottled.

Frankly, while some of the Beaujolais Nouveau can be fun to drink, I think the whole enterprise of the annual launch to be a well-organized, hugely successful marketing coup more than anything else. Posters pop up in bars and restaurants seemingly everywhere--"Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!"--and an infinite numbers of tasting occasions come up across France and the rest of the world. It is estimated that some 65 million bottles (most of them from négociant M.DuBoeuf's cave) are emptied over this weekend. That's half of the Beaujolais region's annual production! Keep in mind the Nouveau is the most inferior wine the underrated Beaujolais region has to offer, which counts the exquisite Margaux, Morgon, Fleurie and Julienas among its apellations, or AOP.

Even deeply hardened cynics like me will show up to a tasting however, if only to rub shoulders with my neighbors, gossip and join in on the culinary potluck. Unfortunately, I drank a bit much of the plonk (when in Rome, etc., etc.) and managed to forget my platter (upon which I had brought my near-famous caramelized walnut tart). Maybe the lotto tickets I bought while at the party--to support a local stock-car racing club--will pan out and I'll get a new platter.

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