Many years ago, during my time at Lay and Wheeler, one of my responsibilities was to see in the first Beaujolais delivery of the vintage on the third Thursday in November. I had to get up really early because in those days the official release date was strictly observed and the truck would not be released from French soil until midnight and thus would not reach Colchester until perhaps 6am. And then the fun would begin.
I don’t remember which, but on one year a cock-up was made when placing the order and the driver had been given our head office in Colchester’s medieval Culver Street West as the delivery address and was, at 5am, attempting to navigate his articulated lorry into an impossible space in the middle of the town when he should have been at our Shrub End depot. Can’t remember how I got the news now but at a certain point in the morning the call came in that this debacle was happening and I despatched myself to the town centre to rescue the poor man. No mobile ‘phones then but the driver had no English anyway so wouldn’t have made much difference.
So why the big deal?
Simple; Beaujolais Nouveau was a big deal back in the day. I had nearly fifteen trucks loaded and ready to go out on their rounds just waiting for their Nouveau. Almost every customer had some and we had to unload the truck, break down the order into Nouveau and Nouveau Villages (for the posh customers) and add the required amount to each of our delivery vehicles. Combined with my usual early-morning tasks of other additions on the answerphone, calming down the keener drivers who wanted their wine first, covering the inevitable call-in-sick brigade, it was pandemonium.
I seem to remember that year we took nearly twenty pallets of the stuff.
Fast forward to 2017 and I have ordered a mere half-pallet notwithstanding that we buy the very best and that 2016 was the nicest I have ever tasted and we managed to convert a few more doubters with it.
I blame the awful late 80’s city banker types for depopularising this once-great institution with their crass celebrations inevitably ending up with the gutters of London running red with a peculiar but distinctive Gamay/Croissant lunchtime puke. Kind of took the shine off it all.
Anyway, it is worth pointing out that there has always been two type of Nouveau just as their are two types of any generic wine; good and bad.
And I am proud to say that, despite it being a little dearer than some, our Chateau Perussel (please Mac, stop changing this to “perusal”) made by Maison Collin Bourisset in Crêche-sur-Saone has always been brilliant. The 2016 was amazing and, should I have tasted the 2017 yet (obviously I haven’t because I would then have to hand myself into the French Authorities for vinous treason) I could report that it doesn’t quite hit the heights of last year but is really close and actually has much more structure which, in a wine made from grapes picked a few weeks ago, is unusual.
Stop by our new Felixstowe wine-boutique on Friday from 11.00am and have a taste on us along with some utterly incredible Camembert Popcorn (yes, me too). It’s opposite the old wine-boutique on Hamilton Road and we opened it as a shop yesterday morning.
Next week our walk-in fridge should be working and you will be able to drink your purchase on the premises along with a whole host of other wonderful new things……
Come and see us.