I'm not a fan of Beaujolais Nouveau. It's silly to see the world go nuts over an overpriced, overhyped barrel sample.
Nonetheless I have tried it almost every year for the last decade, frankly to confirm my prejudice against it as much as anything.
The importers of Georges Duboeuf don't pay close attention to which American wine writers like Beaujolais Nouveau. So they keep asking if I want samples, and I say yes every year, even though I've never written a single nice thing about it.
Until now. This year is an excellent year for Beaujolais Nouveau.
The reason is weather -- it was a warm, dry summer in most of France. Burgundy and Bordeaux vintners are both delighted over their vintage. Most people don't realize this, but Beaujolais is actually part of the Burgundy wine region, so it's no surprise Beaujolais had an excellent year.
The warmth translates into Beaujolais Nouveau that is a little riper than most years, and thus friendlier to American palates. I usually think Beaujolais Nouveau tastes like underripe, slightly sour plum juice. Not this year.
I think you can project from the surprisingly good Duboeuf wines to the entire spectrum of Beaujolais Nouveau producers. Duboeuf, the biggest name, buys the most grapes and thus actually has the least control over the final product. If its basic level Beaujolais Nouveau is this good, it really is a great year for the stuff. Duboeuf's Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau is really worth the extra $1; at $11, it's fantastic value, a good wine where normally I expect a gimmick.
I feel grudging saying this, because it's a big part of the US marketing campaign, but these really are great wines for Thanksgiving dinner. They're light-bodied, low in tannins and refreshing, and won't conflict badly with the menage of flavors on your plate. And philosophically, they're this year's harvest, so they're something to be thankful for.
Don't overpay, don't overrate, and don't overexpect. All of that said, I nearly finished an entire bottle of the Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau last night, and nothing I can write speaks as eloquently of my opinion as a lot of empty glasses.
Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2009 ($10)
A fine year for this simple wine: crushed red plum flavors, a few tannins for textural interest. Simple but pleasant, it would go well with just about any foods, including turkey and all that other stuff. 87
Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2009 ($11)
Surprisingly sophisticated for a nouveau, this is an elegant baby wine with crushed red plum flavor, notes of licorice and violet, and very mild tannins. I won't claim to be an expert on the genre, but this is the best Beaujolais Nouveau I've ever had; the score is a reflection of that, and arguably could be higher for that reason. 90