As they say in France on the third Thursday of November each year, Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé,  the Beaujolais  

[pronounced BOE-zjoh-lay] Nouveau has arrived!

This 60 year tradition celebrating the first wine vintage of the year to celebrate the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau, a red wine made in less than 10 weeks from the Gamay grape and meant to be enjoyed immediately, kicked off yesterday at the stroke of midnight in France as bottles started hitting shelves across France and around the world.

The Gamay grapes were first planted by the Romans in the Beaujolais Province south of the Burgundy region/north of Lyon. They must come only from the Beaujolais AOC, a 34-mile long region, and by law, they must be picked by hand. Why? Because Beaujolais is made using the carbonic maceration wine making process or whole berry fermentation. This process preserves the fresh fruit flavors for the wine without extracting the bitter tannins from the grape skins. The result? A light-bodied fruity easy to drink wine best served slightly cool (about 55 degrees Fahrenheit) to bring out the fruit flavors. For more on the history of this wine, read on.

This first taste of the 2011 vintage will be interesting. A year characterized by unusual weather lead to early harvest which could benefit the 2011 Beaujolais Nouveau as it gave it a little more time to mature. We’ll have to see today as we taste it.

Want to join the celebration? In addition to events going on in restaurants, wine bars, and wine stores, there’s a virtual event taking place, the 1st Annual Beaujolais #NouveauDay celebrating the official arrival of Georges Duboeuf’s Beaujolais Nouveau. So grab your bottle, pop the cork and get on Twitter to share, learn and celebrate!

Looking forward to later. Santé!