Monday, November 20, 2017

The uncorking and drinking of Beaujolais Nouveau, a French tradition

Every third Thursday in November, the Beaujolais Nouveau, a kind of wine from the Burgundy region in France, is at the forefront in France and French communities all over the world. 

Why is it the only wine to be celebrated in France? This craze is partly due to the limited time it has to be consumed. Since Beaujolais Nouveau is called the young wine, it is made from grapes harvested during the year and meant to be drunk within 15 days from bottling

2017 Soirée Beaujolais official poster

Compared to some very old French traditions, the production of the Beaujolais Nouveau is a relatively recent one which started in the 16th century and then became popular in the 17th century. The Beaujolais Nouveau undergoes a maceration process wherein the chemical components of the grape are leached from its skin, stems and seeds and into the must. 

The must in sommelier vocabulary, is freshly pressed fruit juice -usually grape juice, which contains the skin, seeds and stems of the fruit. Making must is the first step in winemaking. For the Beaujolais Nouveau, maceration process does not exceed two months. The main reason is usually to decrease cost for wine makers.

But the tradition of celebrating the Beaujolais Nouveau has not always existed. From its name alone, expert wine drinkers would deduce that Beaujolais Nouveau is young wine, thus lacking the maturity and finesse of the better known French wines around the world. In the 1950s distributors began competing amongst each other in a race to deliver the first new vintage bottles in Paris after a tiresome harvest season. 

At first, it was not so much of an event for the wine drinking communities in France. It eventually became an expected rendez-vous and in the 1970s, winemaker and businessman Georges Duboeuf who also happens to be a major producer of Beaujolais Nouveau pushed and publicized the festivities that come with the new vintage wines. Call it a marketing ploy, but the people were exalted with the idea of having another reason to drink. And the rest, they say is history.

In order for all winegrowers to harmonize their wine sales, the date of the third Thursday of November has been declared in 1985 as the official day for the uncorking of the Beaujolais Nouveau. In fact, it is illegal in France to open the Beaujolais Nouveau until the third Thursday of November. Since then, it has become an annual event, accompanied by a large marketing campaign to increase consumers' desire.

Soirée Beaujolais celebrates the harvest of the young wine or Beaujolais Nouveau. While the Beaujolais Nouveau is the highlight of the celebrations, guests are also served wine from the Fleurie, Brouilly and Macon Villages in France.

Yet, Beaujolais Nouveau is not the only Nouveau wine. Then, why is it the only one to be celebrated? While this wine has been considered without any fuss, and celebrated in a very casual way, there are some other wine communes such as Pomerol or Saint-Emilion, who prefer to celebrate their harvests in more prestigious and gastronomic values viewed as more qualitative. Thus, Beaujolais Nouveau is the only wine that reflects the French joviality and cheerfulness, which explains why it is successful all over the world. As a result, Beaujolais Nouveau has become a festive wine and a symbol of friendliness and conviviality.

For the past 26 years, the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines (CCI France Philippines) celebrates the Beaujolais Nouveau through its annual gala. This event gathers over one thousand guests from the Franco-Filipino community. Under the name of Soirée Beaujolais, CCI France Philippines leads the toast in welcoming the Beaujolais Nouveau in Manila. The organization shares the festivities with the biggest business and social circles in the country. However, Soirée Beaujolais is not only a Beaujolais Nouveau event, every year CCI France Philippines imports over a thousand liters of the best wines from the Fleurie, Brouilly and Macon Villages in France which is then served all throughout the evening.

Soirée Beaujolais the annual gala of Cci France Philippines is celebrated by the organization for over 20 years. 2017 is its 27th year.
Now on its 27th year, Soirée Beaujolais takes place on the 24th of November at the Harbor Garden Tent of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza. This year, CCI France Philippines invites its guests to La vie sous les projecteurs or the life under the spotlight as it celebrates 70 years of Philppine-French relations and the 70th year of the Cannes Film Festival. Guests are invited to dress like Monroe, strut like Bardot as they toast to fame with the best glass of wine all the way from France. The Harbor Garden Tent will be transformed to mimic Palais des Festival et des Congrés where guests will be welcomed by a swarm of paparazzi as they parade their 1950s French glamour outfits. As in the tradition of the celebration of the Beaujolais Nouveau, the night will bear testament of the French’s ability to party as CCI France Philippines delights its guests with surprise entertainment numbers and all out after party with Marz Miranda at the DJ’s booth. Guests will enjoy free flowing wine, cheese and chatecurie all imported from France. They will also be treated to superb French dishes by the premier French hotel in the country, Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

The toast is lead by the entire team of CCI France Philippines, the French Embassy and sponsors.
Soirée Beaujolais toast in 2015.

Soirée Beaujolais is supported by the different partners of the French Chamber. Diamond sponsors are BDO Unibank Inc., FWD Insurance and Total Philippines Inc. while the gold sponsors include Euroasia Executive Search Inc., Holcim Philippines, Jewelmer Joaillerie and Pacific Hemisphere Development. Jones Lang LaSalle, La Cornue, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, RATP Development Manila and Sanofi-Aventis Philippines are silver sponsors while M. Lhuillier, Artelia Asiantechnicon and SGV and Co Philippines are bronze sponsors. Acer Philippines will give one lucky guest the newest Acer Swift 7 laptop while the event’s airline partner, Air France will be giving away two business class round trip tickets to Paris. Le Cellier Quality Store will ship in all one thousand liters of wines including Beaujolais Nouveau especially for this event. The event is also made possible by the City of Cannes and L'Oréal Philippines. Soirée Beaujolais is supported by the French Embassy in the Philippines and the French-Philippine United Action foundation.

Celebrate with CCI France Philippines! Tickets are now on sale. You may purchase or reserve tickets online through http://bit.ly/ccisoiree2017. For event information, contact Sabrina Alday at sabrina.alday@ccifrance-philippines.org or call (02) 831-6374 to 77 loc 102. The French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines is located at 88 Corporate Center, Sedeno cor Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City.


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