Mixed Reviews for 1986 Vintage, but Lots of Fun
Nov. 21, 1986
PARIS (AP) _ Parisians and wine lovers all over the world on Thursday sipped Beaujolais Nouveau, vintage 1986, giving mixed reviews but observing New Beaujolais Day with the kind of enthusiasm that has been a tradition for 19 years.
At one minute after midnight, the official hour of uncorking, bottles of the 6-week-old wine were opened around the world.
In the sky, Air France was serving it on all its medium- and long-haul flights.
''It's a good year. The clients are happy,'' said a waiter in Le Val d'Or, a noted Paris wine bar near the Champs Elysees. ''It's a wine with some body, a beautiful robe, most agreeable to the palate.''
The waiter said the day's sales could reach 500 bottles, and that New Beaujolais was the only wine being sold there Thursday.
''The day is consecrated to it,'' he said.
''There is color, a bouquet, a good after-taste, very smooth,'' said Jeannine Lebon, a brasserie owner in the eighth district of Paris.
Experts, however, note that the euphoria that has accompanied New Beaujolais Day for 19 years stems as much, if not more, from the event as the wine itself.
New Beaujolais is considered too young to be of real consequence to serious wine lovers.
''Primeur wines are not, correctly speaking, wines,'' said the Le Monde newspaper. It quoted wine expert Jean-Christophe Esteve as saying that this year's grapes were without their usual punch.
''Most of the grapes this year did not allow for wines of more than 9.5 degrees (percent) in alcohol. But nearly all Beaujolais primeurs reach 12.5 to 13 degrees. There is, unfortunately, not a bit of mystery,'' he said.
Primeurs, freshly bottled wines marketed for immediate consumption, have multiplied with the success of New Beaujolais.
But Beaujolais continues to corner the market on the infant wines and is the only one whose uncorking creates excitement among wine sippers worldwide.
Six hundred tons of New Beaujolais sat in bond at Tokyo's Narita airport awaiting the deadline. Stocks of the wine were also flown to other world capitals.
The British, who take a particular delight in the countdown before the uncorking, have hired everything from Harrier jump jets to helicopters to get the wine across the Channel.
This year the British moved the cargo by road over France - appropriately, in vintage cars.