You may have noticed signs in your local wine store announcing “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrivé!”, which translates from French to “The New Beaujolais has Arrived!” Every year on the third Thursday of November, the Beaujolais region of France celebrates the end of harvest with the release of this young wine.
What is Beaujolais Nouveau? It is made from the Gamay grape, and consists of wine from that vintage that has been quickly pressed and fermented within 6-8 weeks of being harvested. It has very little tannin, a lovely light purple pink color, and strong strawberry, cherry fruit notes.
If you want to celebrate in the French style, I suggest picking up a bottle of the newest Beaujolais Nouveau vintage or heading over to Microclimate in Geneva (they do a fabulous event every year to celebrate and have a selection of wines from Beaujolais).
However, if you’re looking to celebrate with Finger Lakes wine, I suggest you try out the region’s new hot wine… Unoaked Cabernet Franc.
Unoaked Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc is one of my favorite grapes in the Finger Lakes; it has the potential to be really complex with lots of interesting notes, can age really well, and is utterly delicious when done right. Usually, this grape is aged in oak before it is released, mellowing out the earthy vegetal notes and giving it a bigger body, but may require it to be aged for a while to really blossom.
The new trend is to make an unoaked Cab Franc that can be released almost immediately and is meant to be enjoyed straight away. Like the Beaujolais Nouveau, it is fresh and fruitier than its oaked counterpart.
Billsboro Winery’s 2017 Unoaked Cabernet Franc has some interesting notes of herbs like dill on the nose, along with tart raspberry and cherry that continues on the palate with a medium low but grippy tannin. You can really taste the varietal, and it will be fun to compare with their 2017 Cabernet Franc that has been oaked (not yet released).
Knapp’s 2016 Unaoked Cabernet Franc has some similar herbaceous notes, but is a little spicier and leans towards cranberry in its fruit notes, and ends with pencil lead and cherry lingering with a mild tannin.
Red Newt Cellars’ 2016 Unoaked Cabernet Franc begins with notes of cranberry and cherry, with a little spiciness and smokiness. On the palate it has a mild chalky tannin, nice acidity, and lingering notes of cranberry. I loved the secondary notes on this one and how complex it was despite not having any oak.
Lamoreaux Landing’s 2016 T23 Unoaked Cabernet Franc leads with notes of cherry, light plum and just a touch of cranberry, and on the palate is spicy with a mid low tannin and a smooth finish. This one is a little more fruit dominated than the others.
Shaw Vineyards 2014 Unoaked Cabernet Franc has notes of raspberry and blackberry, with hints of pepper and mint on the nose. On the palate it has a grippy medium tannin and a cranberry acidity. This is a great option if you’re looking to really dive into flavor and nose since it is a little different with its herbaceous and almost meaty notes.
I love this new trend; it’s a fun way to experience red wine, it’s more approachable for people who don’t normally like red wine, and it is nice to be able to drink them immediately. It will be exciting to see how this expands to other wines as well.
In fact, you can already experience a range of unoaked red wines by just going to Keuka Spring Vineyards; they make all their red wines without oak!
What do you think… are you onboard with unoaked reds? Do you have any favorites?