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Tuesday Tributes: Best of the Blogs
Louisville Juice Explains Beaujolais Nouveau

By Charles Olken

Over in France, there is Burgundy where they grow Pinot Noir and the northern Rhône where Syrah is the red grape. In between is an area that probably once was thought to be wrong for both of those grapes so they grow something called Gamay Noir there and they call the wines Beaujolais. I know all about Beaujolais. I have been drinking it since my senior year in college when, in our rush to prove how sophisticated we were to our dates, my roommates and I moved up to $1.69 Beaujolais from $0.89 Gallo Hearty Burgundy. Of course, that was the year before I migrated to California where I soon discovered Weibel Green Hungarian and Wente Gray Riesling. That first year in California was the year before I discovered the Napa Valley, Beaulieu, Inglenook and Louis Martini and unwittingly sowed the seeds of my undoing.

But, I digress. Back to Beaujolais. At this point, it is my duty as a winewriter to explain Beaujolais to you, and because this is mid-November, I am duty bound to explain not just Beaujolais but that wonderful phenomenon, that brilliant marketing coup called Beaujolais Nouveau—or “New Beaujolais” for those who do not speak French. It is a duty that is felt not just by me, dear readers, but by winewriters and pseudo winewriters everywhere. The problem is that they get the story wrong all too often.

The upshot of this parade of misinformation is the first guide that explains to the uninitiated wine writers how to comport themselves when they come face to face to New Beaujolais. It was written by one of the most clearheaded writers we have in the wine blogosphere, and he has published his instructions where we all—you, me, a thousand bloggers can read it and get it right.

Today’s Best of Blog is found here,

A careful reading of the URL gives away the title, but don’t let that stop you. Newspaper man Tom Johnson has a wicked sense of humor, and while you are roaming around his site, you might also check in on some of his other essays such as “Wines Robert Parker Would Rate At 50 Points”, “Best Read Wine” in which the author explores wines that go with literary passages, “Today’s Mystery” and you will have to read that one yourself. Oh, and how about “Like Riedels Wearing French Ticklers”, and I am not going there either, but you should. This is very funny stuff, and we certainly could use a good dose of that now that José has retired.

Here is how Mr. Johnson describes himself and his blog. If you do not click over to his blog after reading what comes next, there is no hope for you, I’m afraid.

From Louisville Juice/About is produced more or less entirely by Tom Johnson, with contributions here and there from people who know useful things. Tom lives and works in Louisville, Kentucky — which is not exactly the center of the wine universe, but oh well.

Tom has been a professional writer and documentary producer for longer than he cares to admit, specializing in historical, cultural and political issues. Along with dozens of general interest magazines, he has written for Vineyard & Winery Management and Palate Press. He holds an Advanced Certification from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust in London, and was the Plumpjack Fellow at the 2010 Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. He regularly conducts story-based wine tastings in and around Louisville, and is working on a book of true stories about the amazing and sometimes bewildering things people have done out of a love of wine. As readers will quickly learn, he is an ineffective proofreader.

Tom’s wine cellar would make a lousy photo feature. It’s cardboard boxes, mostly, piled in the corner of the dank basement. The boxes are filled with Chateauneuf du Pape, Rhone blends from the central California coast, off-beat Bordeaux, itty-bitty bottles of aging Sauternes, middle-class Riojas, and teenaged Barolos. He has a serious thing about Bandol and holds a smattering of velvety-good Napa Cabs left over from his travels. Italian wines are mostly a mystery to him and he’s confused by German labeling conventions. Every Summer he tells himself that he’s going to learn about Riesling, and then drinks nothing but New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. is an unprofitable enterprise. It does not accept advertisements or paid content.


Tom's 2009 Beaujolais Nouveau post
by Chris
Posted on:11/23/2010 4:16:32 PM
Charlie, thanks for mentioning Tom Johnson. Have you read his November 17, 2009 Beaujolais Nouveau post? His poetic words still resonate with me.
How To Be A Winewriter--Not
by Charlie Olken
Posted on:11/23/2010 4:27:25 PM

Hi Chris--

Yes, it was Tom's brilliant analysis of the most common wine theme of the day that first had me laughin out loud and then mention his blog here.

3 Things I Love
by Samantha Dugan
Posted on:11/23/2010 10:26:30 PM

Okay so not only do I come here to read one of my most beloved wine writers, (that would be you Sir Charles My Dear) I find that you have posted about one of the handful of bloggers I actually read...and dig quite a bit, and then on top of all that there is a mention of my husband! Might just be one of my favorite blog posts of yours....well aside from the ones where you say terribly sweet things about me. I do in fact read Tom's blog and although we have very different styles and ideas, (dude with the linking...sheesh) I always find something that makes me chuckle and well I'll just say it, no matter how crusty he tries to come off he is a damn nice guy....kinda like Jose in that way. Bravo for a much deserved spotlight to you Tom and kisses to you Charlie for making me smile thrice.

by Ron Washam, HMW
Posted on:11/24/2010 9:40:10 AM

Jose? Jose? Who the hell is Jose?

I read Louisville Juice for the delicious links that make for a hearty breakfast.

Jose' Who?
by Charles E. Olken
Posted on:11/24/2010 9:53:58 AM

My Dear Mr. Washam--

I know Jose'. Jose' is a friend of mine. And, you sir, are no Jose'--except on your good days when you come out to play with your disciples, accolytes and those who would throw stones at you.

ruined another one for me
by Thomas Pelelchia
Posted on:11/24/2010 1:25:09 PM

OK Charlie. Until today, when I read this post, LouisvilleJuice was among my reads. Now, you swell Tom's head with praise, send the unwashed plebeian over there, and probably have done extreme damage to what was a well kept secret.



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