What does “Vin de Primeur” Mean ?

A “vin de primeur” is a wine which may, under condition of “Appellation d’origine protégée” (AOP) regulations, be sold in the same year in which its grapes were harvested. These are fruity and aromatic wines with refreshing acidity.

"Vin de primeur"

“Vins de primeur” from 2008

 

A Little History

The occupation of France by the Romans seems to have contributed to the development of wine production. Archaeological research has shown that ever since 59 BC, wine has been made and sold along the roads that run throughout the Beaujolais region. Indeed, Beaujolais is a well-positioned “terroir” and is close to the navigable Saône and Rhône Rivers as well as growing towns such as Lyon and Mâcon. The Beaujolais region intensified its winegrowing and winemaking activity during the 17th century.

Until World War II Beaujolais wine was only for local consumption. By the 1970s, though, “Beaujolais Nouveau Day” had become a national event, created by a few members of the “Union Interprofessionnelle des Vins du Beaujolais” (UIVB) (“Interprofessional Association of Beaujolais Wine”),  and notably the wine merchant Georges Duboeuf. This event expanded to neighboring European countries in the 1980s, then to North America, and finally to Asia in the 1990s.

In the United States, it is promoted as a perfect wine for Thanksgiving, (which is celebrated one week after Beaujolais Nouveau hits the market).

SONY DSC

What are the Regional Characteristics of the Beaujolais Production Area?

The Beaujolais region is situated between the cities of Lyon and Mâcon and covers approximately 27 square miles.

Beaujolais grape vines grow from the foothills of the “Massif Central” to the western Saône River plains. The vines are planted along hills in order to receive a maximum amount of sunshine.

Geological characteristics also contribute to the quality of Beaujolais vines. Shallow limestone-clay and sandstone soils in the south, crystalline soils (light and acidic) on the heights and granitic terrain in the north.

Over 50% of the world’s 89 000 acres of “Gamay noir à jus blanc” grapes (the only grape variety used for Beaujolais red and rosé wines) are found in the Beaujolais region.

Beaujolais wine country

Beaujolais wine country

What are the “Beaujolais Nouveau” Wine Characteristics?

“Beaujolais Nouveau” is intended for immediate drinking although it can be consumed for several months after its release. As it is the first wine tasted after the grape harvest it is considered as an indicator of the quality of the year’s regional wine harvest.

Most grapes in the region are harvested by hand. Each year nearly 40 000 grape-pickers help winegrowers harvest Beaujolais region grapes.

Each year, approximately 22.5 million gallons of Beaujolais wine are produced enough to fill 115 million bottles. “Beaujolais Nouveau” represents a third of this volume. The two other thirds are represented by “Beaujolais” AOP “Beaujolais-villages” AOP and ten other {“crus” }(“vintages”).

Nearly 17 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau are exported each year to 110 countries. Germany, Japan and The United States are the three largest markets.

To Learn more about Beaujolais Nouveau:

The website in English of the Interprofessional Association of Beaujolais