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Thursday, 15 November, 2001, 19:10 GMT
Beaujolais Nouveau: still young at 50
Beaujolais lovers in Japan
Beaujolais Nouveau has an army of fans worldwide
Wine lovers across the world have toasted the 50th birthday of Beaujolais Nouveau, as the famous tipple from south-eastern France made its traditional autumn arrival.

This Beaujolais Nouveau has a very slight taste of banana

French wine lover

Orders for the young wine are going strong despite early concerns that economic gloom might push down demand.

Beaujolais sales were holding up even in the United States, where the fruity aromatic wine is popular on Thanksgiving Day.

The Beaujoulais Nouveau tradition was born in 1951, when the government for the first time allowed Beaujolais estates to sell their wines one month ahead of the rest in the county.

Unlike other red wines, it is not one to place in a cellar - it is best drunk quickly.

While it sells fast in the few weeks after hitting the shelves, other wines then eclipse it for the rest of the year.

The biggest celebrations are in France, where a huge promotional campaign aims to cover as many bistros as possible.

Banana flavour

In Paris, waiters were prepared for one of the busiest days of the year.

Beaujolais - 1999 vintage
This year's vintage has more exotic flavours then before

"We are having a big fancy dress evening with traditional French food and accordion music tonight. People tend to knock back the Beaujolais and it is definitely a party atmosphere," a Paris barman told the Reuters news agency.

This year's vintage has a bright red colour, and a mixed flavour of raspberries, strawberries and black and red currants.

But some of the wine lovers have detected even more exotic flavour.

"This Beaujolais Nouveau has a very slight taste of banana," a French drinker Guy Doyere told the AFP news agency.

France remains the biggest consumer of Beaujolais.

Last year 60m bottles went on sale across the world, with around 50% sold in France.

Germany, Japan and the United States are the biggest foreign markets and Beaujolais is exported to 150 countries worldwide.

See also:

18 Nov 99 | UK
Drinkers say non to Nouveau
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