• France's news in English

French find heart to welcome 'best' Beaujolais

The Local · 20 Nov 2015, 11:18

Published: 20 Nov 2015 11:18 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

It may be scant consolation after what France has been through since last week's terror attacks, but its winemakers claimed Thursday that this year's Beaujolais Nouveau wine is the best in a lifetime.

Connoisseurs love to look down their noses at the young wine from the Burgundy known more for the hangovers it can give rather than its quality, but this year's grapes have produced the best vintage in living memory, argued
Georges Duboeuf, "the king" of the region's wine dealers.

"We had a wet spring then record sunshine in July when the Rhone region was the hottest in the whole of France. It's a historic vintage," confirmed Jean Bourjade, of the vintners group Inter-Beaujolais.

But following the attacks in which 129 died in the capital, France and Paris in particular could not arrival of the wine with its usual gusto.

"There were practically no reservations" for a normally popular Beaujolais evening in one major Paris hotel, Christian Navet of the main hotels association said, with bars only ordering in half the bottles they usually would.

Undeterred television producer Marie -- who is not usually a fan of the wine -- took her first sip at La Grappe d'Or bistro in central Paris, and declared it was "rather good".

"It is not too sweet. There's often a banana taste in the years when they put in too much yeast (to speed up the fermentation), but it's rather nice," she said.

Like many she had her glass on the terrace despite the drizzle to show "that we will never give in" to terrorism changing the way Parisians live.

Thousands took to the terraces of the capital's cafes in a collective act of "French resistance" on Tuesday evening prompted by two separate Twitter campaigns to defy the attackers, who mowed down many of their victims as they chatted at outside tables.

"Our hearts are hurting terribly," admitted Nicolas Decatoire, who runs the Le Gavroche restaurant in the old financial quarter. "But we cannot forget our traditions... this is French New Year," he joked, "and we can't be dictated to by a gang of idiots."

(Barrels of Beaujolais Nouveau wine are rolled by wine-growers on November 19, 2015 in the center Lyon. AFP)

Despite the brave front, Decatoire and other bar and restaurant owners told AFP that takings have fallen steeply since Friday's simultaneous attacks across the city in which 352 people were also injured, with some still in a critical condition in hospital.

"At this time when the French art of living is being attacked" 50 winemakers from Beaujolais, north of the eastern city of Lyon, said in a statement they had decided to drive their new wine -- some of it only weeks old -- to the capital in a convoy of Citroen 2CVs, the noisy little cars which are also a symbol of a certain carefree France.

'Paris is a feast'

In another sign that the country is looking for solace and reassurance, sales of US literary great Ernest Hemingway's joyful memoir of 1920s Paris, "A Moveable Feast", have surged since the attacks.

Its French translation "Paris est une fête" -- which literally means "Paris is a Party" - topped Amazon France's biographies chart Thursday and was second in the overall bestsellers list.

Story continues below…

Psychologist Helene Romano told AFP that falling back on feelgood shared memory and traditional rituals can help people "get over the consequences of traumatic events. This is true of all cultures forever."

The traditional Beaujolais tastings held overseas -- where sales have been falling in recent years -- also took on a more sombre and emotional tone in the wake of the bloodshed in Paris.

In Japan, Beaujolais's biggest market, drinkers observed a minute's silence and raised their glasses to France -- a gesture usually reserved for funerals -- before they tasted this year's wine.

"We asked ourselves if we should still go ahead (with the traditional midnight tastings) but we decided we must to support France," said Yuji Yamazaki, managing director of Suntory Wine International.

In London, French wineseller Laurent Faure of the Vieux Comptoir, said they were expecting people from many nationalities to turn up at tasting events to show their "solidarity" with France.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available