Loving the night of Beaujolais Nouveau in Paris is like loving country music. One is constantly obliged to explain oneself. No other genre of wine has been so rightly derided by the international wine press for its superficiality. And yet, as in country music, there remain practitioners of the form whose work attains a sublime simplicity, particularly when experienced in the correct context. In Paris, at the right party, Beaujolais Nouveau is a transcendental event, a cross between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, the one night of the year when an otherwise reserved and miserly population abandons its dime-sized, forward-facing café tables to stand around and sing and offer cheers to strangers.
Shopping for Champagne fills me with embarrassment.
Every year, I promise myself I’ll swear off the stuff. There are, after all, dozens of other sparkling wine types available in Paris, all arguably better bargains than the world’s most famous wine. For along with Champagne’s uniquely chiseled acidity and grace, we pay for the fame, the name Champagne. And to find a broad selection of what I’d call serious Champagne – upper-tier cuvées from independent grower-producers, rather than the predictable, cola-like entry-level bottles of the big houses – I’m often obliged to patronise the Paris wine shops I otherwise avoid.
Wednesday November 20, 2013 (night before)
La Robe et le Palais (13 Rue des Lavandières Sainte-Opportune, 75001) Owner Olivier Schvirtz and sommelier Loic Mougene throw what is possibly Paris’ last remaining quality-conscious midnight-release party for Beaujolais Nouveau on Wednesday the 20th November. The multi-faceted event will run as follows:
- 16h-19h : Book signing by wine writer Michel Tolmer.
- 19h-22h : Normal restaurant service.
- 22h-00h : Special Beaujolais dinner, with a fixed menu of regional dishes. Beaujolais Nouveau wines saved from previous years will be served to accompany the dinner.
- 00h-2h : Party, in the probable attendance of many Beaujolais winemakers. Beaujolais Nouveau from Karim Vionnet, Jean-Claude Lapalu, France Gonzalvez, Xavier Benier. Music: Possibly.
Thursday November 21, 2013
Café de la Nouvelle Mairie (19 Rue des Fossés Saint-Jacques, 75005) Benjamin Courty and Corentin Cucillat are the latest owners of this historic natural wine bar in the 5ème, which has changed hands over the course of its 20 years in business, but has always remained a destination for magnificent wine and simple bistrot cuisine. A daube de boeuf will accompany the gypsy jazz and sought-after primeurs. Beaujo Nouveau by Guy Breton & Jean-Claude Lapalu plus vin primeur by Jean-François Nicq.