Wine Wednesday - Nouveau wines will be here just in time for the Holidays


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November is an exciting time. As we wrap up the fall harvest, many wineries turn their attention to celebrating the vintage with their Nouveau wines. These bright and fresh wines, typically made from Gamay grapes, are officially released for sale around the world on the third Thursday of November, which this year falls on the 15th . It is always amazing to think that just weeks earlier this wine was a cluster of grapes in the vineyard but by a rapid fermentation and a quick bottling it is released just in time for the Holidays.

You may wonder how a wine can be released so quickly; it is actually because of a unique winemaking technique called ‘carbonic maceration’. The hand-harvested Gamay grapes are directly transferred to a vessel filled with carbon dioxide where they undergo an accelerated fermentation process. Conventionally, grapes are crushed to release the juice and pulp from the skins prior to undergoing fermentation. With carbonic maceration, also known as whole-berry fermentation, the natural yeast migrates from the skin of the grapes into the pulp and most of the juice is fermented while it’s still inside the grape.

This winemaking process emphasizes fruit flavours without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins. The resulting wines are often referred to as quaffable (i.e. easy drinking) because they are fresh and fruity with very low tannins, low alcohol, and often characterized by sweet, candied notes. It’s a wine intended for immediate consumption and not for cellaring, it’s also best enjoyed slightly chilled (13°C).

Beaujolais Nouveau, a fruity red wine made from Gamay grapes grown in the Beaujolais region of France, is responsible for making this style of wine popular but producers from other parts of the world are making ‘primeur’ wines as well. There is Vino Novello from Italy – a light-bodied, fruity red wine produced using several grape varieties and typically released on October 30th . There is Vino Joven from Spain, which refers to a young wine from the current vintage that is meant to be consumed a year to 18 months from when it’s produced. And there are many US and Canadian Nouveau wines on the market which perfectly showcase that freshness and drinkability that has made this style of wine a perennial favourite for many.

Nouveau wines are also produced right here in Niagara-on-the-Lake. One of our member wineries, Reif Estate Winery, produces two Nouveau wines:

 “The Fool” Gamay Nouveau made from Gamay Noir grapes featuring aromas and flavours of fresh juicy cherries and bubble gum complemented by a hint of white pepper and finishing with tart rhubarb fruit. A perfect pairing for a holiday turkey, sausage stuffing and cranberry sauce. (Will be available at the winery and LCBO)

 “The Hanging Man” Kerner Nouvau, a more unconventional nouveau made from the Kerner grape. A fruity off-dry white wine with apple strudel, peach and soft mango flavours. An ideal pairing for a holiday ham and apple sauce or with hors d’oeuvres. (Will be available at the winery only)

As you might have already guessed, the 2018 vintage of both wines will be released on November 15. If you are looking for a fresh and fruity wine to enjoy over the Holidays you should definitely give Nouveau wines a try!

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