It’s 11.58pm on 17th November, 1982. A growing throng of eager faces flocks to the tiny Province of Beaujolais. The air is alive with a hazy cocktail of engine fumes and excited, multilingual chatter. Stood aside the running engines and open boots of their empty cars, the nameless faces throw impatient glances at watches and clocks that seem to crawl towards midnight. The tension is palatable. The wait has been long.
It’s the third Thursday in November. This is but one of many similar scenes across the entire region of Beaujolais. Today, after all, is the day that the Gamay grapes – harvested only six week earlier and pressed into bottles – are released to commemorate the start of a new season. After what seems like an eternity, the bell strikes midnight. A loud-and-clear cry across the province and beyond rings out for all to hear: Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!
The crowd comes to life in a frantic dash to secure bottles and crates of the ruby red juice. Some uncork on the spot, the familiar glug resounding as liquid fills glass and glasses fill mouths. Others cry out with military-like efficiency, commanding that boxes be stacked into boots and footwells alike before roaring off with an intensity and purpose that can mean only one thing: The Beaujolais Run of 1982 has begun.
What started in the ’30s as a local competition among Parisian cafés to pour that all-important first glass of new vintage had quickly spread to other wine-loving countries. As Parisians enjoy their first sips of the year’s young grape juice and the empty bottles pile up, knee high, in the back of the bars and brasseries of the French Capital, English drivers press on ceaselessly through the night. Their race has only just started, as they make their way to London in a hell for leather attempt to serve the first glass of Beaujolais Nouveau in the bars of London, an accolade they will then hold for the rest of the year.
With no time to stop until the ferry terminal, each rider’s thoughts are fixed firmly on the heard-earned and hearty Full English Breakfast that would await the victor, not to mention the glass or two of their precious cargo that would surely be needed to wash it down; their Beaujolais breakfast. But who would be the first to pop that cork? Who would be this year’s victor?
Join us this Thursday 21st November to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau Day, as we cut straight to the chase and enjoy a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau 2019 and a Full English breakfast (veggie and vegan options also available), for £16.
Booking is absolutely essential and will require a deposit of £5 per head. On your marks, get set, go!