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Beaujolais Nouveau

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Each year on the third Thursday of November, the world gets its first taste of France's Beaujolais Nouveau, one of the freshest, simplest—and for those who love it—most delightfully delicious reds produced. In the world of wine, it marks the beginning of the holiday season. Releasing a wine whose grapes were only weeks before still hanging on the vine is a custom that dates back to the 19th century. Barrels of fermenting Beaujolais were rushed by carriage to the markets in Lyon. And now in Boise, this Thursday, November 17, you can uncork a bottle of Nouveau and toast the fall harvest.

After a disappointing vintage in 2004, the '05 appears to be about as close to perfect as you can get. Hail in May and early June reduced the size of the crop, but the summer months that followed, with warm days and cool nights, produced exceptional grapes. Conditions during the early September harvest were also ideal, and comparisons to the monumental 2003 vintage have already begun. The consensus is that this year's Nouveau offers all the fruit you could want, while displaying better balance than in '03.

Two different Nouveaux are available here in the valley. Georges Dubouef's offering tends to put the emphasis on the fruit. It's a fun and vibrant effort that is about as close to grape juice as wine gets, typically with a bit of banana and bubble gum thrown into the mix. Joseph Drouhin's Nouveau is a bit more serious and complex—more wine-like, if you will. Those who don't really like the Nouveau Beaujolais style often find Drouhin's to be more appealing. Because it is wine from this year's harvest, Nouveau seems a natural for the Thanksgiving holiday. Served with a bit of a chill on it, it makes for a great opening to the festivities of the season.

All of the following retail shops will have Beaujolais Nouveau for sale starting on November 17, and most will be offering a taste for their customers:

A New Vintage Wine Shop, 1400 N. Eagle Road, #104, Meridian

Bacquet's, Boise Towne Square Mall, Boise

Boise Co-op, 888 W. Fort, Boise

Erickson's Fine Wine at City Market, 250 Riverside Drive, Suite 120, Eagle

Music of the Vine, 2805 Blaine St., Suite 130, Caldwell

The Porterhouse, 600 Rivershore Lane, Eagle

Ridleys Family Markets, 2490 Bogus Basin Road, Boise