It's been over three decades since restaurateurs Mick McHugh and Tim Firnstahl organized the first Beaujolais Nouveau parties in Seattle, even flying several cases from Paris to Seattle on the Concorde. I'd been invited to join the scouting trip, an experience that would set me on an unexpected path as the organizer of luxury wine tours to France and Italy under the name France In Your Glass. (Alas, no more, ever since W declared war on France in 2003; remember "Freedom Fries"?)
Anyway, some 24 seasons ago, the French-American Chamber of Commerce, Pacific Northwest Chapter, took over sponsorship of the Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Festival as an annual fund-raiser. This year's event takes place on Friday the 18th of November at the Columbia Tower Club in downtown Seattle. Last I heard they'd sold out of VIP and Young Professional tickets but had a few of the "regular" ($90) tickets available.
CTC's Exec Chef Tyler Hefford-Anderson has put together a menu that showcases Beaujolais Nouveau's affinity for French country fare (assosrted pâtés and other charcuterie, steak tartare, deviled eggs, pickled shrimp, grilled chicken, artisan cheeses). The Hama Hama folks will be on hand to do some shucking (yes, Beaujolais goes very well with oysters).
I've been tasting these wines from producers large and small for many, many vintages now. The grape variety is gamay, not the more prestigious pinot noir, and the wine always has a characteristic fruity aroma that results from Nouveau's unique fermentation process, carbonic maceration. Think of dark cherries and ripe strawberries, and you'll get the idea. You've heard the term "quaff"? This is quaffing wine, and makes a fine accompaniment to the diverse flavors of a Thanksgiving feast.
2016 Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Festival, Columbia Tower Club (701 5th Avenue), 7-11 PM, Friday, November 18th.