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Beaujolais Nouveau Banquet at Avida Bar

By November 15, 2012No Comments

It’s a tradition that should be revived – happily sipping on a deliciously easy glass of wine with a veritable feast. In these modern times, life can be so rushed and pressured that it is easy to overlook the simple pleasures – flavoursome honest food and a glass of modestly alcoholic, mouthwatering, easy-drinking wine, shared with like-minded people. I’m sure that’s what Stephen Morris of Avida Bar in Featherston Street, Wellington, had in mind, to re-instate a tradition that the now-closed Beaujolais Wine Bar had for many years, when he put on a banquet-style lunch to celebrate the release of the 2012 Beaujolais Nouveau.

Of course, the celebration lives on in France, now a little more restrained, than those heady days when bottles of the freshly-fermented wine were sped to thirsty drinkers around the world by Harrier ‘Jump-Jets and the supersonic Concorde to those who wished to be the first the experience the new vintage. It’s still a moment to ponder that the Beaujolais Nouveau wine you are sipping on the third Thursday of November was in the form of grapes just a few short weeks ago. It’s that marvel that makes the wine and the occasion such fun.
Beaujolais Banquet at Avida
I suspect that Stephen and Avida subsidised the banquet somewhat, as for $55.00 pp, one got platters with Duck liver parfait, Duck rillettes, Pork belly and Asparagus to start, followed by main courses of either Braised Wakanui ox cheek with cauliflower cream or a Seafood medley in a bisque cream, with Cheese – ‘Amadeus’ brie and ‘Mauri’ gorgonzola to finish. It was all quality fare prepared, cooked and served with skill and professionalism. Well done, Avida team!

The wine was Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2012. Bright purple-hued red, with a core of vibrant aromas that combined violet floral perfumes and raspberry-strawberry jam. The wine reeked of carbonic maceration, better than simple boiled sweets, having some some substance. The palate built on the bouquet. More medium-bodied than light bodied, at 12.0% alc., supple and near juicy, soft and lacy acidity providing brightness, fruit depth and presence making it a wine with mouthfeel and flavour. Yet the aromatic nature didn’t take over and dominate. It had a sense of restraint. Maybe the wine could have been a little more tutti-fruity and sweet, as in the best examples my memory can recall, but this was just right with the food.

As I reckoned, the lunch must have been subsidised, because the wine would have cost dearly to fly over to New Zealand to beat the French release timing. I calculated including freight, a bottle would be $40.00 – $45.00 in retail price. That’s not bad, considering that when I was involved in getting the wine to New Zealand two decades ago, the bottle price on the shelves would have been closer to $50.00 then!

As Stephen Morris is the consummate hospitality professional, he had on offer a range of other Beaujolais wines to supplement the Nouveau. We looked at the Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2010, now garnet-red in colour and a shadow of the Nouveau in flesh, and no doubt of its former self. The wine, while fruity with bubble-gum esters was a little lean and starting to become a little astringent, showing the acidity. The truth is, Beaujolais is designed for drinking straight away, and this wine was living (dying?) proof.

We also took a bottle of JosephDrouhin Morgon 2010, one of the Beaujolais cru. Dark and deep, youthfully ruby, this had solid and densely packed aromas of ripe dark berry and cherry fruits, with a palate with depth and weight. Not heavy nor appreciably tannic, this featured sweetness and succulence and a commanding line. The nature of the wine was not flippant or too friendly. It had layers of fruit, earth and spice to give it some gravitas. It is easy to see why serious Beaujolais can easily be mistaken for good burgundy wine.

Deb Britten who owned the aforementioned Beaujolais Wine Bar then ran off the names of the 10 Beaujolais Cru. She listed them all. Here they are in ascending order of weight: Brouilly, Regnie, Chiroubles, Cote de Brouilly, Fleurie, Saint-Amour, Chenas, Julienas, Morgon and Moulin-a-Vent. Famous names that have in recent times that have lost their lustre. But with occasions such as this lunch by Stephen Morris of Avida, and a minor Beaujolais revival among wine merchants, there may well be a come-back in New Zealand! www.avidabar.co.nz

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