The Other "New French Wine": Touraine Primeur
Updated: Oct 23, 2018
Most people have heard of Beaujolais Nouveau, the freshly-harvested red wine from Gamay grapes in France’s Beaujolais region. The festival is typically celebrated on the third Thursday of November when the wine is released at midnight. (Some wine outlets cheat and sell it sooner, especially in the U.S. since it’s shipped ahead.)
As young wines, they should be drunk immediately and, unlike most reds, are better served slightly chilled. They don't end up in a gourmet's wine cellar, but vintners and oenophiles study them to determine the future quality of the mature wine.
New wines are celebrated in other regions of France than Beaujolais. Our town celebrated the first of the Tours region nouveaux wines as “Touraine Primeur.” It was the excuse for a major festival in which our local vintners hosted tastings in a special location--the caves underlying Montrichard's donjon, the fortified chateau above the town.
The streets were lined with stalls and the major attraction, beyond wine, was “défilé” de confréries, the gourmet fraternal societies that cover the bases from garlic to brie, sausage to cherries, plums, snails, and on and on. Each society has its own historic style, including medieval-style capes and elaborate headgear. As they parade through the street and up the stone staircase toward the church on top, the crowds cheer.
One year, two smiling young women tagged onto the end of the dozens of formal confréries. Not only were they younger by at least twenty years than the traditional confrérie members, they were dressed in short red dresses and green felt hats. Imagine a cross between Robin Hood and elves.
The mystery was solved when they happily announced themselves as their version of the “confrérie des fraises” for strawberries.
The Confrerie of Sainte Maure (cheese) arrayed on the grand steps of Montrichard, Loire Valley