Beaujolais Nouveau: The Cilantro of Wine
Like cilantro, Beaujolais Nouveau seems to inspire either immense ardor or intense dislike. The third Thursday of November traditionally marks Nouveau Day, a day when this wine is released. Produced in a rapid manner, this is among the first wines from the just-completed harvest to hit the shelves and consumers’ glasses. Rabid arguments on its virtues or lack thereof were strongly stated on a friend’s Facebook page.
This year clocked in the 60th anniversary of this spectacle, which began in 1951. In 1960, 10,000 cases were shipped and by 1970 that figure had jumped to 1 million. Today, Beaujolais Nouveau is exported to more than 100 countries.
Among the most visible marketing campaigns in the world of wine, Beaujolais Nouveau’s fanfare is led by the power house of Georges Duboeuf. Each year, Les Vins Georges Duboeuf, in collaboration with its U.S. importer W.J. Deutsch & Sons, celebrates in style and this year was no different.
This year’s theme, Nouveau Expression, extended to the wine’s label, which was designed by Brooklyn graffiti artist Kaves. A 1971 Cadillac wrapped in a blown up version of the label was driven into the warehouse-like space, Stage 37, driven by Georges’ son, Franck, who proceeded to symbolically carry in the first case.
At the event, Kaves shared some of his background with the audience noting that his parents divorced when he was 10 years old, which struck in him the desire to “be heard.” In an effort to draw the attention of his mother, he confided that he took spray can in hand and wrote his name on a subway car. Today, Kaves’ art graves canvases instead of public transportation and he was visibly proud at his journey.
In explaining what had inspired the design for the Duboeuf label, Kaves spoke about painting from the heart, rather than with a preconceived notion in mind, and eventually assembled a scene featuring a neighborhood block situated at the corner of Love and Life. Drawing on the fact that Beaujolais Nouveau is produced very quickly and meant for immediate enjoyment, with a relatively short drinking window, Kaves echoed the theme saying that life itself is “fast and short-lived.” He professed that his painting was about celebrating life and urged the audience to do the same.
Yes, Nouveau Day is somewhat about the wine and, depending upon your point of view, all about the marketing, but, it also serves as a reminder to celebrate the end of another harvest season; to celebrate the growers who toiled all season to produce the highest quality grapes; and to celebrate the bounty of that harvest, be it Beaujolais Nouveau, Barolo or for that matter, Broccoli. Whatever is in your glass or on your plate, may a spirit of celebration fill your heart.
And, I hope that is one thing we can all agree on.