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Wine of the week: 2009 Beaujolais nouveau

We know no one's pining after yet another tale of a bursting bubble, but that seems to be what we have on our hands in the case of the 2009 Beaujolais nouveau, the new wine of Beaujolais released every year on Nov. 19 to some fanfare. The trouble is that this fresh wine has been overhyped for at least the past decade, raising expectations above the youngster's ability to deliver.

As a result, after so many disappointments, demand declined and this year's release is difficult to find, which is a shame, since this is the best year for Beaujolais nouveau in recent memory. On the other hand, it also is priced lower than in recent years, at $9 to $10 per bottle. We managed to find three to taste, but it took six stops to score them: two big-box stores (this is where the wines were), two wine/liquor shops and two supermarkets.

The Georges Duboeuf bottling is easily the grapiest of the three we sampled. None of them is, nor was meant to be, a mature and complex wine, but all have rather more structure than expected. The Duboeuf is the least complicated of the lot but it's our favorite for quaffing. Our tasting notes lead off with the exclamation bright, bright, bright! Grapes are everything in this one, with exuberant raspberry and spice rollicking over the tongue on the way to a smooth and refreshing finish. We drank it chilled, which is always appropriate for a young red like this.

The Jean-Claude Debeaune entry falls midway between the Duboeuf and the last wine on our short list in terms of complexity. There still seem to be a bushel of grapes in every mouthful but this wine delivers currant, blackberry and wild cherry underlain by a hint of fig. It has the silky mouth feel of a merlot but surprises with a bit of astringent black tea on the short but peppy finish. All three of the 2009s we tasted will go well with food, but this one may end up on our Christmas table — if we can find it again.

This year's release from Henry Fessy is not as fruit forward as the first two we tasted. If the Duboeuf is the grapiest of the lot, the Fessy is the winiest. It is the driest of the three and boasts a longish clean finish. Its dominant note is currant underlain by a touch of prune. As with the other two on our list, serve this wine either alone at party time or pair with foods as unfussy and cheerful as the wine itself.

By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.

Wine of the week: 2009 Beaujolais nouveau 12/01/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 1, 2009 3:30am]
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