Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Backstabbing in Beaujolais by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noël Balen translated by Anne Trager

“Beaujolais is a lighthearted wine that makes people happy.”

We simply cannot ever have too many novels from France here in the U.S. and the publisher Le French Book is trying to bring those novels, translated, to market. Especially popular among the “cozy” mystery set is this series of novels set in the wine regions of France by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen. We learn a great deal about wine production in each one, and the stories revolve around the great passions that wine evokes in producers and buyers…

This episode in the long-running mystery series manages to end before the body count exceeds two, and at the end everyone still alive is moving towards a fulfilling career or marriage. It is meant to be as lighthearted and refreshing as the wine it describes, and, for those with an interest in viticulture, it succeeds admirably.
“…moderate consumption [of red wine]—one glass a day for women and two for men—can be good for the health: reducing your risk of depression as well as your risk of developing colon cancer… Wine has anti-aging properties. While consumption of other alcoholic drinks can increase a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer, red wine in moderate amounts can actually lower that risk. One study has even found that a chemical found in wine can improve your sensitivity to insulin. That means you’re not as vulnerable to diabetes…”
While I am not convinced by the one study that suggests red wine might make one less vulnerable to diabetes, I believe the other claims have more solid scientific backing. But I was surprised, I admit, to learn
”You can drink Beaujolais early on, but the wines frequently open up three to five years after being bottled. They are precocious and aromatic, but round enough to have a lingering taste.

The story had the requisite homegrown local who harbored resentments against everyone, the millionaire businessman who wanted to bottle wine but knew nothing of the process, the gorgeously-dressed, slim, blond marketing wizard…you get the picture. One intriguing character, Benjamin, was a French wine expert who I could have sworn was British.

Beaujolais wines have a unique winemaking process call ‘whole-berry fermentation.’ The technique preserves the fruity quality without extracting tannins from the skins. The vintners in this novel considered “drawing out the vatting time and submerging the cap of grape skins during the maceration to enhance flavor and intensity, thinking it would preserve the fruity aromas and flavors while enhancing color and tannins. Who knows if it would have worked? They never got to try it, sadly.
“From time immemorial, [Beaujolais Nouveau] has been celebrated when it’s young, at the start of fermentation. Centuries ago winemakers traded early in the year, and the yeast would complete its job while the barrels were in transit, moving slowly by carriage or boat along the Saône and Rhône rivers or up the Loire.”
Beaujolais Nouveau commonly goes on sale in November and is meant to be enjoyed before May the following year. That goes for this novel, too. Enjoy!

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores

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