The Beaujolais Nouveau, a very French celebration

The Beaujolais Nouveau, a very French celebration

While French society was in a hurry to taste this new wine, the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau was joyous as well in Lusaka.

A French tradition

Since the XXth century, it has become a French tradition to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau. It is an event always expected and appreciated. It is a wine of primeur, or young wine, whose vinification is followed by a marketing almost immediate. It is produced in the departments of Rhône, Loire and Saône-et-Loire, around the Nizerand river. This wine also benefits from an "Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée" (or controlled designation of origin), which certifies its production.
The marketing of Beaujolais takes place every year on the third Thursday of November.

Celebrated in Lusaka

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La préparation en grande pompe du Beaujolais Nouveau

Thus, this Thursday, November 15th, the Embassy of France to Zambia celebrated the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau. This traditional evening, at the French Residence, quickly made a name for itself in Lusaka, in the diplomatic sphere, but also beyond.
This year, the party was organized by the brand new French-Zambian Chamber of Commerce

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La préparation en grande pompe du Beaujolais Nouveau

On a rural background (haystacks, wine barrels and gingham tablecloths in support), in an informal and good-natured atmosphere, it gathered about 750 guests, who were able to appreciate the choice of cheeses and French charcuterie, and well obviously, Beaujolais. All these products had arrived just in time from France, by plane. Guests enjoyed this French Touch chatting over glasses of wine. Some have also been able to dance to the rhythms of the Cool Daddies, a Zambian music band slowly catchy.

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Petits fours pendant le Beaujolais Nouveau

The speech of His Excellency the Ambassador

The ambassador of France in Zambia, Mr. Sylvain Berger also gave a speech in English tinged with French culture and beautiful apostrophes in Nyanja:

"Distinguished Senior Zambian Officials, Distinguished bilateral Colleagues, Ambassadors and High Commissioners, Representatives of International Organisations, Representatives of the corps consulaire, Representatives of Civil Society and Members of the press,
“All protocols observed”, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends, of France and of Beaujolais,

Good evening ! Mulibwanji !

On my wife’s behalf, and on my own behalf, I extend a heartfelt and warm welcome to all of you. Mwaiseni !
I welcome you also on behalf of our sponsors, 18 french companies, even more than last year.
I have to repeat a bit, for those who were not there, what I said last year. Sorry for the others, who are used to come to this traditional party.

But there are a few changes : The first change stems from the fact that before, this party was organized by the embassy, supported by a group of sponsors ; now the recently created French-Zambian Chamber of commerce (FZCC) is organizing everything, with already a strong leadership ; of course always with the support of the Embassy and of those sponsoring companies.
All were as helpful and successful in this preparation, as they are in their professional business and work in Zambia.
I wished to entrust the FZCC with this new responsibility, I think my choice was right, I hope you will feel the same. In many other countries, it is the Chamber of Commerce who are already organizing this event ; in other countries, it is organized by a French community association, or by individuals, on a fully private or paying basis.

We organize this reception to celebrate together this annual event, but also to thank most of all the Zambians we have the honour and pleasure to work with, all year long, in a country we all like and love.

Here you are in France. Especially this evening, because you take part to a very French tradition.

This is not an official function, but a friendly private reception; also because of the very nature of this event, which started in the restaurants and cafés in France, before becoming a kind of world event, celebrated at the same time, in many places around the world; like on the night of the 31st of December.

My speech won’t be political (this is not a national day cocktail) ; it should be just wine oriented !

The only serious political remark I would like to say, is the following: I’m pleased, that after the commemorations of centenary of the end of WW1, which was rightly done, on the 11th of November, in a sober manner, not as a celebration of victory, given the millions of victims of the war (and, thanks to the creation and development of the European Union, the complete change of relations between European countries since 1918), we can celebrate and share tonight a joyful moment. Without our glorious predecessors, we probably wouldn’t be there, drinking wine together.
I could add, after the commemoration on the 13th of November of terrorist attacks in Paris of the 2015, when 130 French citizens were killed the same evening by a few fanatics, condemning our way of life, I’m glad that we can still enjoy good glasses of wine, in music (today we will hear, for the first time, the “Cool daddies”).

Speaking of first World war, maybe you know our cheese called “camembert”, produced in Normandy ; a book has been published recently on this “national legend”, where you can read “opening a box of camembert, you do better than eating cheese, you smell France!”
In 1919, its box celebrated the victory of allies, with the drawing of a female allegory of France, holding a torch with the flame of progress, tricolor flags, the Globe, and the slogan: “la France, Reine du monde! (France, Queen of the world)”.
According to a foreign President, “there is no country more nationalist than France, very proud people, and rightfully so”! I don’t think we are nationalists, just patriots, especially during some football world cups! and a bit chauvinistic, just for our wine and cheese ! But allow us to think that tonight, France is still the “Queen of the world”, even if it’s only for gastronomy!…

“Beaujolais nouveau” is a French wine, produced in the Beaujolais region of France, in Burgondy, a red wine with the particularity of being sold the same year it is harvested. Its release, always occurring the third week of November, has become internationally honored.
Half of the whole Beaujolais year wine production is drunk in this period. Those producers were clever!
The release of Beaujolais nouveau is now very much expected, by a large public, amateur of wine or not -some are just there for the fun and the friendly atmosphere of this very moment.

The wine is released just weeks after the wine’s grapes harvest. Parties are held throughout the country and further away to celebrate the first wine of the season.

“Beaujolais Nouveau” doesn’t mean “New Beaujolais”, like google translation would propose ; because every wine, year after year, is new and could be then called “nouveau” ; “Beaujolais nouveau” means “primeur”, wine meant to be drunk young. It is the most popular “vin de primeur”, fermented for just a few weeks before being released for sale, on this third Thursday of November.

By sharing this event with us, you share an event celebrated across the world, and you also travel in time. Because the Beaujolais nouveau is an old story. Already in the XIXth century, some wine companies used to buy this Beaujolais « sous le pressoir » (under the grapes press), and distributed it in the following weeks to the restaurants and cafés, of the cities of Lyon, then Paris.

This "Beaujolais Nouveau Day" started with races to get the first bottles to different markets around the globe. The idea of a race from Beaujolais region to Paris, carrying the first bottles of the new vintage attracted progressively media attention. By the 1970s, the race became a national event. Then the races spread to neighboring countries in Europe in the 1980s, followed by other continents in the 1990s.
As the release practice is to ship the wine ahead of that date, and deliver it to the local markets at 12:01 a.m. local time.
No race here ; it was maybe a bit too far ; the bottles arrived from Paris by plane, in time, thanks to Bolloré !

The same for cheese and sausages. Because the taste is better when you mix this wine with these French culinarian specialties. This is a second change this year : usually, we complemented here French food by an international dinner, with beers, and so on ; this year, the organizers decided to get back to basics, respecting the real tradition : only cheese, charcuterie and Beaujolais (only water and a few soft drinks are accepted, by exception !) ; the decoration chosen also insists on this farm dimension, with those bales of straw.

A third change is the weather : last year, rainy ; fortunately, wine, warm friendship, music and songs, helped us to forget this uninvited rain. This year, it is warm. I even hope the wine can be served chilled enough, as it should ! (thanks to Intercontinental hotel team).

Beaujolais is not a wine for wine snobs. This fresh and fruity red is the result of a quick fermentation process that ends up with a tasty, clean wine that enjoyed by palates the world over. Beaujolais has become the symbol of festive wine, simple, easy to drink.
The traditional slogan used in advertisement campaigns is “Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé”, which translates to “The Beaujolais primeur has arrived”.

Created in 1948, The Ordre des Compagnons (chapter of friends) du Beaujolais is an esteemed French organization dedicated to promote the wines of the Beaujolais region. It has now Chapters in many countries around the world, united by their love of Beaujolais wines, the most lively and unpretentious French libation.

Not yet here. Why not ? I’m sure we could find here spontaneously dedicated Beaujolais drinkers ! Incredibly enough, the wines from Beaujolais are affordable. I hope Zambian wine importers will realize the benefit for them to organize also parties, in the future, to promote Beaujolais.

By the way, I visited Chablis region, last august, with a group of French ambassadors. Chablis, also in Burgondy, is an excellent French wine, more expensive than Beaujolais ; but maybe someday, we will be able to organize a Chablis party here !

Let me conclude by sharing the same convictions as last year :

One philosophical : "The only weapon I tolerate is the corkscrew" ; a french movie actor used to say that ; he is now dead, which is another lesson to learn from him, let’s enjoy the good times of life.

One more practical : abuse of alcool is dangerous for health, and for driving, so please drink in a moderate way !… I’m sure you will do so.

I’d like to add a third one : wine is gastronomy, gastronomy is culture, culture and arts are a weapon of peace and tolerance ; that’s why we support the nice project, the first Zambian Open Arts International Festival, which will take place the second week of may.

I renew my thanks to all of those who helped us, including Anderson security and the diplomatic police.

Now Cheers ! and let’s say together, in French, please repeat after me the magic formula, which will free the bottles : “le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé !” puis A votre santé !

Je vous remercie / Zikomo Kwambiri !"

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Discours de Monsieur l’Ambassadeur
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Les invités, à l’écoute de Monsieur l’Ambassadeur

A souvenir of Beaujolais

To keep a memory of this evening, a photobooth had been installed. Fun or serious pictures, smiles did not fail.

Warmest thanks

This celebration was therefore possible thanks to the French-Zambian Chamber of Commerce but, also, thanks to the many sponsors: AGS, Aquasavana, Bolloré, Bureau Veritas, CFAO, CMA CGM, Colas, Intercontinental, JCDecaux, Lafarge, Michelin, Newrest, ORCA, Razel-Bec, Renault and Total.

Last updated on: 22 November 2018
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