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Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived for the season

French winemaker Franck Duboeuf, second from right, chef

French winemaker Franck Duboeuf, second from right, chef Jacques Pepin, right, and members of the Compagnons du Beaujolais, taste the Duboeuf's 2012 Beaujolais Nouveau in New York on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, the 30th anniversary of the wine. Credit: AP / Richard Drew

Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive!

Despite its bad rap, it doesn’t have to taste like a marketing ploy, that red you got drunk on for your 21st birthday or any other variation of plonk. When Beaujolais Nouveau is harvested from old vines and smaller vintners, it can be a light, fruity, easy-drinking wine for under $20.

A tradition that’s made its way over from France, the first bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau are uncorked the third Thursday in November and are suitable for drinking through the holidays and beyond.

“Beaujolais Nouveau isn’t the type of wine to contemplate,” says Michael Amendola of The Village Wine Merchant in Sea Cliff. “This is a celebration harvest along the lines of ‘Yes! We have wine!’ ”

South of Burgundy, the Beaujolais region produces nouveau from gamay grapes harvested in September that’s ready-to-pour by late-November. Nouveau comes from grapes that aren’t of the caliber a vintner would use for a Beaujolais crus — the highly regarded food-friendly wines that age for two or more years.

The ’50s marked the rise in distribution of bottles to Paris, while Georges Duboeuf became the leading producer in the ’80s. Overproduction and the Duboeuf scandal of 2004 pummeled the wine’s reputation when the producer tampered with it by mixing a bad harvest with a better harvest. Only lately has it recovered — to some degree, though many a drinker associates Beaujolais Nouveau with notes of bubble gum, bananas or nail polish remover.

Yet it can be quite nice. Over in Sea Cliff, you can pick up a bottle of Domaine de la Madone Beaujolais Nouveau harvested from vines more than 70 years old, producing a fruit-forward wine with soft tannins. Another option is the Domaine Durdilly “Les Grandes Coasses” Beaujolais Nouveau. Bottles range from $13 to $15.

A new shop from Jennifer and Rob Place, Spirited Wine & Liquor in Greenport will also have Beaujolais Nouveau in stock from boutique vintners.

Village Wine Merchant, 252A Sea Cliff Ave., Sea Cliff, 516-200-9370,; Spirited Wine & Liquor, 219 Main St., Greenport, 631-333-2380,


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