Beaujolais Nouveau is made from the Gamay grape. The 2011 vintage, a year characterised by unusual weather leading to relatively early harvests, appears to have provided higher quality wine from fewer grapes. The 2011 Beaujolais Nouveau was harvested early and could mature a bit longer until the traditional third Thursday of November.
A decree in 1951 allowed the sale of wines from the same year. At first the starting date was in December and Beaujolais growers managed to get that pushed back to mid-November.
In the beginning, the new Beaujolais was mainly a festive event in the wine bars of the city of Lyon, just 30 km south of the growing area and still the epicentre of the increasingly global Beaujolais bash with a midnight party that sees 400 litres of the wine being served in just half an hour.
In 1966, the 250 stores of the wine retail chain Nicolas in Paris started a special Beaujolais Nouveau operation and later firms such as Georges Duboeuf took the wine to export markets.
Duboeuf, born in 1933, earned the monickers "King of Beaujolais" and "Pope of Beaujolais" for his efforts in promoting the wine that makes up one third of the production of the Beaujolais area - the rest is sold at a more mature age.
Duboeuf still runs the firm with his son Franck and will be present at a Beaujolais party in the United States, a key market.
In 2010, 35 million bottles of the wine were put on the market. Some 7.5 million were sold in French supermarkets and 15.5 million were exported, the rest went to bars, off-licence stores and restaurants.
The biggest consuming region in France is Paris with 1.3 million bottles.
Japan was the biggest export market with seven million, followed by the United States with 2.4 million and Germany with 1.2 million.
There are many other "new" wines in France or Italy, but the phrase 'Le Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrivé" remains the clarion call in France for the first taste of the vintage year.
Well, all I can say is, it's a damn tasty bottle and you should get yourself some while there's still some to be had. You can get it from Ocado here in the UK for £5.99 a bottle. http://www.ocado.com/webshop/product/show/18516011
In the States, try http://www.winechateau.com/sku1698831_GEORGES-DUBOEUF-BEAUJOLAIS-NOUVEAU-750ML-2011 for $8.89 a bottle.