I had the opportunity to interview via telephone Yann Bourigault, George Duboeuf’s Export Director for North America. Yann, who was in Chicago for the city’s arrival party, works closely with the winemaking team at Georges Duboeuf and numerous domaines and family partners.
The Amateur Gastronomer: 2008 was a particularly difficult year for Beaujolais, whereas 2009 produced a Beaujolais Nouveau that Georges Duboeuf called the best vintage in the last 50 years. How does the 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau compare?
Yann Bourigault: 2010 is going to turn out to be a really good vintage. We’re very happy with it. It’s a notch below 2009 because really I think that 2009 will remain as a benchmark, as far as quality vintages in Beaujolais.
The 2010 is the sort of vintage that got us worried at one point — some years you know right away it’s going to be great or it’s going to be bad. The vintage of ’09 we weren’t sure because we had a great growing season and then the months of August got a little rainy. [This] July was beautiful but August got a little cold and rainy. Rain is not that big of a deal in France because keep in mind we cannot irrigate, so we do need a little rain once in a while. But what happened is that it slowed down the maturation process and instead — like in ’09 we started to harvest at the end of August — in 2010 we started to harvest in mid-September. So it got pushed back two weeks but [resulted in] a very good quality of grapes.
If people ask how to compare the ’10 to the ’09, Georges said that for him that the ’09 had a lot more black fruit in it; 2010 is more on the bright side, not as dark – raspberries and bright cherries.
AG: This year’s theme, reflected on the label and at arrival party festivities, is Nouveau Cirque. How does this tie in with the Beaujolais Nouveau?
YB: We’re trying to create some excitement around it because at the end of the day Beaujolais Nouveau is really a celebration of the harvest. You want to celebrate with your friends, you want to have fun, it’s not really only about the wine.
We’re also trying to reach a new group of consumers — the millennials, the 21 plus, young people — and we needed a theme that would relate to that, that they would enjoy. And I think that the Cirque is very trendy, as you can tell from the Cirque du Soleil shows that are opening every day in what sounds like every city. And then also I think with the Cirque, some performances can be seen as art forms, as culture, and I think in wine there is also culture and art forms.
Every year it gets harder to do something new. We’ve done everything from the Concorde to Au Clair de la Lune, to double-decker busses, any means of transportation or legal means — I mean we haven’t done navy submarines yet but if we could have done that I’m sure we would have. Georges is very keen on making something special out of the arrival.
AG: For people who enjoy Beaujolais Nouveau, what other wines from Georges Duboeuf would you recommend?
YB: I guess Beaujolais Nouveau would be your entry way into the world of Beaujolais. The region is divided in three categories, on three quality labels, and it’s geographically driven. You have the Beaujolais area, then the Beaujolais Villages which is a step higher but probably the same price as Beaujolais Nouveau. And this is what most people would drink outside of the last six weeks of the year. And then for people who want to go a step higher, the Crus of Beaujolais seem to be extremely successful in the moment, especially the ’09 vintage. Something like a Morgon, Juliénas, Moulin-à-Vent, those are single villages that produce really high quality wines.
Of course Beaujolais Nouveau is great with turkey, that’s probably one of the natural pairings. But a Morgon, for people who want a little something extra, a bit more depth and character, would actually be a very nice wine also with turkey.