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Wine Intel

Three Minute Interview: On Beaujolais with Joe Campanale

Alex Moskovitz

Tomorrow is the third Thursday of November, which marks the release of Beaujolais Nouveau. This wine, made from the Gamay grape in southern Burgundy, is the first release of the just-completed 2013 harvest. Beaujolais Nouveau is made very quickly, resulting in a juicy, light-hearted wine—perfect for an end of harvest celebration. Joe Campanale, a 2013 F&W Sommelier of the Year and owner of several wine-forward New York City restaurants will not be celebrating with Nouveau, however. Instead, tomorrow he’ll be opening a bunch of what he’s calling Beaujolais Vieilles at his West Village wine bar, Anfora. Here’s why:

So what’s your beef with Beaujolais Nouveau?
I just think that Beaujolais is extremely ageworthy and, like any good wine, it gets better and more complex and more interesting as it ages. Beaujolais is one of the most affordable, very ageworthy wines, like Muscadet. I find that very exciting. You don’t have to pay a lot of money to have a very, very ageworthy wine.

What are you serving instead of Beaujolais Nouveau?
Instead of Beaujolais Nouveau, we’re serving five or six different Beaujolais that are all from the 2009 vintage or older. And three of them will be out of magnums. They’ll be $12 a glass, $40 a bottle or $60 for a magnum. That’s pretty affordable for a magnum, right?

What are you most excited to open?
I love the Thevenet Grain & Granit out of a magnum—the ‘08s that we got. That’s gonna be pretty exciting. I like that vintage. The 2009s were kind of ripe and juicy, but I like the earthier, lighter vintages, like ’08.

Who are some producers you think make really ageworthy Beaujolais? What should people buy?
The Beaujolais that I’ve had that that have aged the longest aren’t the most accessible, but I’ve had Jean Foillard’s Beaujolais with 10 years of age on them. Marcel Lapierre’s age really, really well. I think that any well-made Beaujolais from a good vineyard site is ageworthy. With Beaujolais, you just need some patience. They’re wines that have a longer drinking window than people think. It’s kind of like where Riesling is so delightful when it’s young, but it can age for a long time. Beaujolais in its youth, it’s ready to drink and it’s delicious, but it’s something that will reward you with some age.

And read about some Oregon winemakers who are making their own Oregon version of Nouveau here.

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