Bonjour Beaujolais: France’s new ‘discovery’

“Discover Beaujolais” read the campaign slogan.  It caught my eye because Beaujolias is one of the oldest wine brands in the world, crafted by respected wine makers in eastern France above Lyon for something like 2000 years.  It’s squeezed into an area dominated by Burgundy in the north, and the Rhone wines in the south.

The region has excellent growing conditions with granite-based soil that lend great structure to the vines.

So Beaujolais is hardly a “new kid,” but a seasonal grown up. Beaujolais shows up on more Thanksgiving dinner tables than almost any other varietal, because it goes so well with traditional entrees at that holiday’s dinner table. In the past, it was available only during that time of the year.  It was harvested, fermented, aged for a short time, bottled and sent off to America as France’s annual pop-the-cork and “drink now” match for the nation’s turkey, ham and fish dinners.  Maison Louis Jadot ($14.95) with its 100 percent Gamay grapes is the name and big winner for Beaujolais.  It’s slightly spicy with a touch of licorice and rose petal, with a slightly tannic touch to aid in the acidity for food pairing.

Joshua Orr, the Beaujolais specialist and Sommelier at Marina Kitchen at the San Diego Embarcadero, went on about the Gamay grape.  “These wines are incredible values.  We are educating the public that these wines are for year-round, not just the fall and Thanksgiving. I love the minerality in these wines and how it works with a fish combination and other light entrees.  In Beaujolais, reds are the Gamay grapes and whites are Chardonnay.  In this wine country, there are old vines that have produced wines for over 80 years adding great character to the wine.”

Gamay is somewhat quirky in that its skin is black, the juice is white but Gamay Beaujolais is red.  Many Gamay lovers prefer to chill this wine before drinking, as they would a white wine. From beef to berry desserts, Beaujolais can be trusted as a refreshing drink and an alternative to heavy reds.  See

Follow-up:  San Diego International Wine Show

The San Diego International Wine Show

Was held recently in the Paddock area of the Del Mar Fairgrounds. There was a lot to taste from both domestic and overseas wineries.  The many cultures were flowing, from Italy to the Guadalupe Valley in Mexico.

Not to be outdone, California wines were well represented.  San Diego favorite Orfila Wines scored big with their Syrah, Viognier and an Italian varietal, Montepulciano di Abbruzzo with Justin Mund the wine maker.

From the Jackson Family Estates, Freemark Abbey and Hartford Family Winery, from Napa Valley and Sonoma’sRussian River topped the list.

Proceeds went to Country Friends Rancho Santa Fe community projects.

To contact the show’s director for next year’ s production, call (619) 8WINESD.

Wine Bytes

Firefly Grill and Wine Bar in Encinitas presents a Chalk Hills Wine Dinner May 22 at 6:30 p.m.  For pricing and details call (760) 635-1066.

Il Fornaio in Coronado brings you a Wedell Cellars Wine Maker dinner, May 22 at 6 p.m.  Cost is $65. RSVP at (619) 437-4911.  The owner/winemaker will be in attendance.

Dynamic Wine & Food Pairing with instructor Deborah Lazear is the kickoff of the next wine series at San Diego State University May 31 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Get complete details at (619) 594-5152.

The Ramona Valley Vineyard Association has its 2nd annual Grape Day in the Back Country May 24 at the San Vicente Inn. Program goes from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with breakfast and lunch included.  $30 for RVVA members, $45 for the public.  Speaker is Wes Hagen, wine maker for Clos Pepe in Lompoc.  Reservation information at (760) 505-9022.

Celebrity Cruises has launched the first cruise land-based Great Wine and Food Festival, May 31 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Great Park in Irvine Orange County. The event benefits Legal Aid of Orange County, with 40 great wines, craft breweries and spirits companies and top Orange County restaurants. $75 early bird tickets until May 12.  $100 after.  Go to for details and tickets.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  His columns can be viewed  He is one of the top wine commentators on the web.  Reach him at


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