Each November, on the third Thursday of the month, the French giddily celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau. That's when the fresh, fruity Gamay from the new vintage is rushed from the vineyards into shops and wine bars in Paris and elsewhere across France. On that day, it's almost obligatory to pick up a few bottles at the corner wine shop or pop into your local wine bar or bistro for a glass.
Every year we list where to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau in Los Angeles. This week, when I called some French restaurants to ask if they were planning anything for Beaujolais Nouveau, a long pause was often followed by another question: "What?"
Even places with French connections — Little Door, Marché Moderne, Café Pinot, Maison Giraud — simply aren't into it this year. Michael Frank, co-owner of the long-running French bistro Chez Melange in Redondo Beach, says he'll be getting just five cases of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau this year.
"I remember in 1989 getting in 65 cases. That tells you where Beaujolais Nouveau has gone in L.A."
Some of the action is scaled back, true. But still I found a number of places ready and willing to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau. Taylor Parsons, beverage director at République, put half a dozen cru Beaujolais on the list this week, and for Thursday he's getting in Beaujolais Nouveau from Jean Foillard and also, in magnums, from Guy Breton. He's philosophical about the new wine's appeal. "If nobody drinks it, I'll just take it home for myself," he says.
Nobody seems to be laying in the Beaujolais Nouveau in quantities like in years past, so if you want to indulge, it's best to plan on going early.
Papilles Bistro — Owner Santos Uy was having trouble securing some Beaujolais Nouveau, but at the last minute, he managed to rustle up some from the well-regarded producer Domaine Dupeuble. He'll be pouring it by the glass at Papilles on Thursday. He also plans to add a Croque Monsieur/Madame to the menu as a special that night. Served with frites, it will be $17 a la carte, or $20 as part of the 3-course prix fixe menu. 6221 Franklin Ave., Los Angeles (323) 871-2026; www.papillesla.com.
Bouchon — Thomas Keller's Beverly Hills bistro will have a $45 prix fixe menu for the occasion, available Nov. 20 to 23. It starts with housemade garlic sausage in brioche with marinated vegetables followed by red wine braised beef cheeks with carrots, turnips, pearl onions, button mushrooms and egg noodles. Dessert is a dark chocolate mousse with pistachio anglaise. Add $10 for a cheese course of Bleu d'Auvergne. They'll be pouring Jean Foillard Beaujolais Nouveau for $8 a glass, $30 a bottle. 235 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 271-9910; www.thomaskeller.com.
République — Walter Manzke's French bistro is already celebrating the Beaujolais season with half a dozen Beaujolais crus on the wine list. But for Thursday, beverage director Taylor Parsons will be pouring Beaujolais Nouveau from Jean Foillard and also, in magnums, from Guy Breton. 624 S. LaBrea Avenue, Los Angeles (310) 362.6115, www.republiquela.com.
Chez Melange — Chef Robert Bell and his partner Michael Frank are celebrating with Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau by the glass and the bottle. Bell will be doing some specials to go with the new wine at both Chez Melange and its sister Bouzy, their gastropub in front. 1611 S Catalina Ave., Redondo Beach (310) 540-1222; www.chezmelange.com.
Monsieur Marcel — Monsieur Marcel at the Original Farmers Market is doing it up right with balloons and the first pours of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau at noon. Come a little later, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., and a French accordionist will play while you taste the first Beaujolais of the season. The festivities (sans accordionist) will start around 3 p.m. at the Santa Monica location. 6333 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles (323) 939-7792; and 1260 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica, (310) 587-1166, www.mrmarcel.com.
Petit Trois — At Ludo Lefebvre's no-res, no-phone bistro next to Trois Mec, starting on Thursday, they'll be pouring Jean Foillard Beaujolais Nouveau and Domaine Dupeuble's in magnum at $12 a glass, both off menu, through Saturday. I'd have some with those glorious escargots or with the steak frites. 718 N. Highland Ave, Los Angeles, http://petittrois.com.
Church & State — This year, Church & State will offer Beaujolais Nouveau from Domaine Dupeuble by the glass for $12, or by the bottle for $40 until their allotment sells out. Chef Tony Esnault and crew suggest pairing the Beaujolais Nouveau with the Petite or Grande Planche de Charcuterie, which includes duck prosciutto, house-cured pork belly, head cheese, pork rillettes, pork butter, patés de campagne, chicken liver mousse, saucisson sec, boudin noir, house mustard, and pickled vegetables. But you could also have it with French onion soup or roasted bone marrow with marinated radish salad to start the meal. 1850 Industrial St., Los Angeles, (213) 405-1434, www.churchandstatebistro.com.
Bar Covell — Matthew Kaner, co-owner and wine director, says that this year they'll be pouring Beaujolais Nouveau from Jean Foillard and, in magnums, from Domaine Dupeuble. And also (this is exciting) a Pinot Noir made in the Nouveau style from their friends at Scribe Winery in Sonoma. The drill is, they'll have Beaujolais Nouveau until they run out, which could be on Thursday or soon after. 4628 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 660-4400, www.barcovell.com.
Cafe Stella — For this year's Fete d' Beaujolais, the Silverlake French restaurant will be pouring magnums of Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Nouveau to taste for each table that comes in, along with serving the wine by the glass. They'll also be offering special menu items to pair with the Beaujolais. Reservations recommended. 3932 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 666-0265, http://cafestella.com.