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simple local vegetables

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Sunday, 9 October 2011

Every year.......

 The 3rd Thursday in November, every year.
It's been going on for many years now, originally thought up as a publicity gag, it has been underlined in many peoples diaries as a party time!
and - why not......?  The facts of the matter are really quite simple. The tradition of tasting that year's wine is old....it probably all starts with a thing called "Federweisser" - a German/Austrian tradition, often very useful as a laxative cure, where the first pressings of the year are tasted just hours after starting the fermentation process. They are logically weak in alcohol content, but heavy in laxative quality. The first few pressings are bottled and sold commercially....as wine! Traditionally the dish which goes best with this invention is the modest "onion quiche" or onion tart, or - if you must, then go up a step in Societie's ladder and use an Alsatian/Lorraine dish   called "Flammkuchen" (it's really a sort of posh pizza!) Federweisser is celebrated in Alsace-Lorraine in France as well, less so than in the truly Germanic countries, but "verstopfung" (constipation) is International and must be relieved!
a roll of WC paper could be offered free of charge.

As you can see from the colour, it is not quite as enticing as certain other products representing the same thing - "Nouveau - Primeurs".


There are all kinds of competitions nowadays with large cash prizes for the first servings of Primeurs, notably from Beaujolais, but I know, because I have seen and touched them, that cartons and cartons of the new Beaujolais lie ready in depots all around France, well before the official date. Not allowed to be sold until the 3rd Thursday in November, I doubt that there are not a number of "tricks" going on, yearly, to win the prize.
In any case, my personal favourite is always the "primeur" - "Beaujolais Villages"
Even at this age, it is a polished product, smooth to the taste and very distinguished.
Yes - it does cost a little more, but in quality one understands why.
With time, a number of other traditions have sprung up around the festival of "Primeur". Many offers are made in the shape of the bottles
, which become collectors items (full or empty) and many importers and producers have started "hand-painted" bottle collections which also have become collectors items, or simply the printed label collections  often done by well known artists are collected with pride.
I am more concerned with the contents of a liquid nature.  Beaujolais is a well known wine producing Region of France, with wines from "horrible" to "magnificent".....It produces enormous quantities and - unfortunately, all that Beaujolais's isn't Beaujolais....It is a favourite to be copied, particularly in Chinese and Japanese circles.
In Europe, Beaujolais wine is not only good, but is also from inexpensive to much higher standards.
The quality is normally always good, the Nouveau, being what it is, a new wine, is experimental....you never know what it's going to be like! Dishes served at special evenings tend to be the simpler, hand held items, the same as described above for the "Federweisser" evenings.....Tarts, quiche, even onion soups....With Beaujolais of course, cheeses can be considered highly on the list of "little amuse-gueules" (small nibbles) since  a red wine can support good cheeses so well. The slight coarseness of the wines can also allow "stronger" cheeses like the Munster to be employed, preferably  well ripened!
Now Beaujolais is NOT the only wine presented as a "Primeur", nor is the first to be presented each year. 
Other French wine regions, having seen the success accorded, have taken up, many years ago, presenting their wines as "Primeurs" as well, and most of them are actually ready BEFORE the Beaujolais, due to Regional and climatic conditions. This is one of the largest of them, slightly more southerly than Beaujolais, so earlier on the market.
Many of them are actually better than the Beaujolais Primeur, bt are less well known and less available outside of France. Almost all of the "vins de Région" are present, with one notable exception - Burgundy (and with some exceptions the Bordeaux). If you get the chance to taste some of these inexpensive wines, don't hesitate.
The only advice I would pass on to you is the traditional advice....do NOT buy a bottle, take it home - open it - and expect it to taste good!
 ALWAYS remember, wine is a LIVING product. It is "alive", and - like you - it can bruise in transport, gets exhausted at long journies, needs "repos" or rest  just like you....so allow it a couple of days, minimum, to rest- like you - lying down!
This applies to ALL wines, particularly those that tourists take home, over thousands of kilometres, and open it on arrival, just to spit it out and ask themselves....."Did we REALLY buy and so enjoy this stuff for a month on holiday....?"
Let it rest and recuperate.....the longer - the better - it will reward you....
Finally, before you all go attacking, remember that the "Primeurs" or "Nouveaux" are relatively instable wines. They will change in colour and taste as time progresses, and the general recommendation is to consume them BEFORE Christmas.
I disagree with this, they are storable for much longer, with differing results. Stored correctly, they are keepable and drinkable in general for at least a year. They are not intended to be "laid down" over longer periods, although in certain cases they can be rebottled and laid down for some years.
  If you are lucky enough to have the conditions and room to do so, you can make some enormous profits, although the main fun and enjoyment comes from drinking it, with colleagues and friends around a good meal and conversation.
So - "Bonne Appétit" et "A la votre"........

Vauvert, France         -          Octobre 2011

2 comments:

Wendy Wise said...

We used to love a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau but we haven't found anything really drinkable, with that lovely pétillance, for years. It's best slightly chilled I believe.

I.W Mitchell (mr le marquis) said...

Yes - maybe become too popular. The Villages is still the best, and probably chilled is better because of the possible acids. Mind you, in November just placing it outside should be enough in most places.

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******* iwmpop (mr le marquis)- Vauvert, France - Janvier 2011