In years gone by, British wine merchants would race to secure Beaujolais Nouveau for their stocks. But now the UK’s first young red is being made near the English border with Wales.
“It’s not a wine to be taken too seriously, it’s a fun drink, taking on the spirit of Beaujolais Nouveau,” winemaker Simon Day explained at his vineyard in Ledbury, near Hereford.
Amid the gloomy atmosphere around the country during the coronavirus pandemic, he said he hoped the wine would be a “little ray of sunshine to end the year”.
The Herefordshire red has aromas of cherry, blackberry and cranberry as well as exotic fruits, according to Day.
He recalled how at the end of the 1970s and in the early 1980s British wine merchants competed to be the first to bring back Beaujolais Nouveau directly from the producers.
They returned from France “driving as fast as they could” in sports cars filled with cases of wine, he told AFP.
“It was a big event. Lots of press, lots of media, lots of fun,” the winemaker explained, adding that he hoped good English red wine could be similarly celebrated.
The 2020 vintage from the Herefordshire vineyard is Day’s second after the winemaker became the first to produce a primeur red wine in Britain.
The whole production will amount to 2,500 bottles and will be sold in the upmarket supermarket chain Waitrose for £11.99 ($15.79).
The price is more expensive than Beaujolais Nouveau, most of which sells for between five and 10 euros in France.
Instead of the traditional variety of Gamay grape used in Beaujolais, the English winemaker uses Pinot Noir.