So many people turned up their noses at beaujolais even though it represents one of the most underrated best values from France. Beaujolais has suffered from annual assaults of its own making, namely the release of the frivolous and meaningless beaujolais nouveau. Yet the French wine made with gamay beaujolais grapes has as much character and purpose as any other grape variety.
I was reminded of my support for Beaujolais while recently talking to Franck Duboeuf, son of the legendary Georges Duboeuf. I met the elder statesman, still clinging to his title of the "king of beaujolais," in the late 1980s when he was pushing beaujolais to a Washington, D.C. market. His ruffled, curly head of hair was naturally dark then -- not so today, but neither is mine the same. Back then, beaujolais nouveau was arriving via helicopters, submarines, sky divers, hot air balloons and any other gimmick sure to attract a drinking party of revelers.
However silly nouveau, it has managed to bring attention to a region that struggles in the shadows of Burgundy to its north. Perhaps it can't compare, but the crus from 10 Beaujolais villages make some terrific wines that can actually be aged.
For more about this region and my interview with Franck Duboeuf, see my column on another page.