The First Third Thursday Without Georges Dubœuf

I really wasn’t looking forward to writing this post and I sat for a while at my computer, staring at the screen, with an uncharacteristic lack of words to write. I had also missed the key day altogether. The third Thursday of November came and went and I did not so much as pause to acknowledge its significance, much less raise a glass to honor the man who almost single-handedly made that particular Thursday a cause to celebrate around the world.

As most in the wine world know, the third Thursday in November is known as Beaujolais Nouveau Day. That means it is the first day that wine from this year’s Beaujolais harvest is allowed to be sold. It’s a fun, juicy, uncomplicated wine that is affordable, plentiful, and not meant for aging.

It’s a day that was popularized not just in this country but around the world by the sheer will and marketing genius that was Georges Dubœuf. And this was the first third Thursday in November without him as he passed away in early January this year.

I do not profess to have known Monsieur Dubœuf, but I did have the honor of tasting wine with him on several occasions and he was one of the nicest people I have met. Sure, our meetings were brief and focused on wine (although we did manage to talk a bit about cycling–M. Dubœuf was an avid cyclist in his youth), but I like to think that I am a fairly good judge of character and he had “it” in spades.

So when the Third Thursday came around this year, I must have subconsciously let it slip my mind perhaps knowing that “celebrating” it this year would have been at best, melancholic. I imagine, however, that would be the last sentiment that M. Dubœuf would want to provoke since he spent most of his life promoting and championing the wines that he made popular, even famous.

Thus, after procuring the wines, I sat down almost two weeks late and had my own mini-celebration of the harvest’s first wines.

Cheers, Monsieur Dubœuef, you no doubt knew that you left your legacy in the very capable hands of your son Franck.

Franck and Georges Dubœuf, last year, outside the Dubœuf home in Romanèche-Thorins, Beaujolais.

 


2020 Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé:
 Retail $12. 100% Gamay. Sure, Nouveau is a wine, but it is more than that–it is an event, a celebration, a tradition. And how does one rate all of that? If I were to only consider what is *in* the bottle? Bubblegum or cotton candy pink with similar aromas on the nose. The palate, however, is all about the fruit and the acidity as there are oodles of both. Sure, this is not all that sophisticated, but it was not intended to be! Pop the cork, slosh it in your glass, drink heartily, don’t fret the small stuff as this is simply fun (and cheap). As intended. Very Good. 88 Points.

2020 Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais Nouveau: Retail $15. 100% Gamay. There is no getting around it–raspberry bubblegum a go-go. But therein lies the problem. When it comes to Beaujolais Nouveau, too many focus on what is *in* the glass. Sure, for most wines, that is the most important aspect. But. I would contend that with Nouveau, that might be at the bottom of the ledger. Sure, it has to be *good* but the key is memory: one has to recall that this is a wine made, at least initially, for the harvest workers to celebrate the end of harvest. No, it is not a wine to ponder, contemplate, or re-hash. It is fun in a bottle and if you do not approach it that way, you are missing the point. I give this wine a score only to counterbalance the knuckleheads who are missing the point entirely: pop, pour, drink, be merry. Very Good. 88 Points.

2020 Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau, France: Retail $20. 100% Gamay. I am not a marketing guru. I am not a cellar master, winegrower, or “super-taster.” I am, however, a lover of wine and try my darndest to appreciate all aspects of the magic that goes into a bottle of wine. This wine? Most of the marketing gurus would stress that it is indeed *better* than the more *pedestrian* Beaujolais Nouveau. Sure, it’s “better” but it represents more than that. Once the Nouveau craze took hold (due, in most part, to Georges Dubœuf), I imagine there was a desire to produce a wine that was categorically “better” than the standard Nouveau. This is the Dubœuf iteration of said wine. And it is marvelous. Sure, this is not a wine to cellar. At. All. But it *is* one to savor: dark in the glass with mostly black fruit (blackberry, plum) on the nose, with plenty of fruit and at more than a modicum of intrigue on the palate. Yeah. I could live here. Excellent. 90 Points.

Yours truly, Aurelien (Franck’s son and Georges’ grandson), Georges, and Franck Dubœuf.

 

About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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2 Responses to The First Third Thursday Without Georges Dubœuf

  1. Dr B says:

    That’s a nice post, a great memory of Georges and what he achieved in putting Beaujolais on the map. I used to get involved in the manic race to get early Nouveau in the late 1980s or early 90s when I worked in the U.K. financial services industry. It was a lot of fun, but I much prefer the Cru wines of Chiroubles and Fleurie in my old age. Thanks for the post, you were lucky to meet him, a treasured memory I’m sure 👍🍷🍷🍷

    Like

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