How is "serious" Beaujolais different from Beaujolais Nouveau?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I’ve heard wine drinkers talk more about “serious” Beaujolais than the Nouveau I’ve tried. How do I find it? And how does it differ?

—Jim, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Dear Jim,

Beaujolais Nouveau is released soon after harvest (on the third Thursday of November, to be exact), but there are plenty of terrific—and what some would consider more serious—wines from Beaujolais that are released later. The best Beaujolais come from one of the area’s 10 named crus, or classified growths. The 10 villages classified as stand-alone appellations are Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Régnié and St.-Amour.

Both Nouveau and the crus are made from the same Gamay grape. Nouveau wines are vinified quickly, via carbonic maceration, and made in a drink-now style. But crus are made more traditionally, and tend to be released a year or two later. The best examples will improve with additional bottle age. How do you tell the difference? The crus won’t say “Nouveau.”

Both wines display Gamay’s natural fruity style, but the cru bottlings have more substantial tannins and show spice, tea, dried herb, smoky and mineral flavors in addition to lush berry and cherry notes. Even better, they are often priced quite affordably, with plenty of examples under $25.

—Dr. Vinny

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