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Thread: Georges Dubeouf 1933-2000

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    Default Georges Dubeouf 1933-2000

    In November 1970 in a hotel in the heart of Beaujolais, two friends and wine enthusiasts, Joseph Berkmann and Clement Freud, had an idea. On a whim, they created a race to get the region’s freshest red wine, Beaujolais Nouveau, to London as fast as possible. Decades later, the race remains a popular distraction for classic car enthusiasts, less so the wine itself.

    In the 1980s, a wine better known for its speed to market than its flavour, was earning big money for the winemakers of Beaujolais. They had one man to toast: Georges Duboeuf, who has died aged 86 at his home in Romanèche-Thorins. His drive helped to turn Beaujolais Nouveau into a world-leading brand. At the end of that decade, he alone was selling 250,000 cases a year of his famous red.

    Georges Duboeuf was born in 1933 near Chaintré, where his family has cultivated vines for four centuries. He struck out on his own as an entrepreneur. Having noted the popularity of newly bottled Beaujolais with foreign journalists after the second world war, he eventually started a mobile bottling system to become a distributor. He literally brought the bottling to his clients so keen was he to promote his product.

    “He was thus trying to convince, like a missionary, that to seduce the consumer the profession had to evolve,” remembered Dominique Piron, president of Inter Beaujolais. “He quickly saw where the direction needed to go in the Beaujolais vineyards.” His zeal explains the origin of his title, the pope of Beaujolais.

    Later Duboeuf would lead a group of regional growers and, although that arrangement broke down, he did set up his own négociant business in 1964, Les Vins Georges Duboeuf. By the late 1970s he had ensured full media coverage of the first shipments of Nouveau on November 14 every year, first in France then later in the UK and America. During this period he built up his network of friendships with the great chefs of France who in turn promoted him.

    All this gave him gravitas. He later cleverly developed unique floral labels to help brand his wines. “Duboeuf was very thick with that nucleus of famous chefs around his base in Romanèche-Thorins, especially Alain Chapel and Paul Bocuse, nouvelle cuisiniers,” says the Financial Times wine critic, Jancis Robinson. His charm won him friends but also respect due to his hard-working style. Another of his key promoters was his kindred spirit, lifelong friend and UK importer, Berkmann, the originator of the race.

    Though Duboeuf made his fortune on the back of the Beaujolais Nouveau boom, he was an assiduous and comprehensive promoter of all his region’s wines. In 1993 he even opened a wine theme park in his commune of Romanèche-Thorins known as the Hameau du Vin.

    Christopher Piper, a wine merchant and winemaker who specialises in Beaujolais, both sold the wines of Les Vins Georges Duboeuf and competed against its vineyards as well. Duboeuf was the first in the French wine industry to market wine to international clientele, he believes.

    Perhaps too much was made of an adulteration scandal in 2006, in which the standard wine of the region, Beaujolais Village, was mixed with the more expensive Beaujolais Cru. Given the strict regulations defining geographical classifications, a local court fined him the equivalent of £20,000.

    “The mistake was due to the careless error of the winemaker,” Duboeuf said at the time. He emphasised that none of the wine in question had even made it into the bottle, never mind into the hands of his customers. “People need to realise how important he was,” points out Mr Piper. “This adulteration was a minute part of what he contributed” to the industry.

    However, the thirst for Beaujolais Nouveau, once tasted, quickly grew old. Critics regularly panned this sometimes tart and acidic plonk that needed more time in the barrel, bottle or both.

    “Certainly not the type of wine I either want to party with, or wash down my escargots with,” noted America’s leading wine critic Robert Parker, after the 1984 vintage arrived on US shores.

    As the fashion for crowding into restaurants and wine bars to await the first air shipments of this once famous wine faded from memory in the 1990s and noughties, the hit product lost much of its star appeal.

    But Duboeuf’s legacy lives on with his son Franck, who has led the business since 2018, and with his grandson Adrien Duboeuf-Lacombe. He is also survived by his wife, Rolande, and daughter, Fabienne.
     

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    Default Re: Georges Dubeouf 1933-2000

    I fondly recall being seduced when I was in my early 20's. A young woman slowly got me drunk on a bottle of Beaujolais as she read passages from The Bell Jar. I haven't had a glass of wine since.
     

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    Default Re: Georges Dubeouf 1933-2000

    I don't know if any of you have ever watched our uk sitcom (Only Fools and Horses) where the main character, Delboy, a London wheeler dealer from the East End goes into a wine bar and hoping to impress his friends asks if they have any red wine. The barman says "we have some Beaujolais Nouveau" and Delboy says "what year is it?".
     

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    Default Re: Georges Dubeouf 1933-2000

    Quote Originally Posted by slwrnu View Post
    I don't know if any of you have ever watched our uk sitcom (Only Fools and Horses) where the main character, Delboy, a London wheeler dealer from the East End goes into a wine bar and hoping to impress his friends asks if they have any red wine. The barman says "we have some Beaujolais Nouveau" and Delboy says "what year is it?".
    LOL. Good one.

    Thanks for the backstory, I've new respect for what is and was his genius. With a chuckle I've always accepted bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau at house parties with a smile knowing it was destined for making gravy or re-gifting ;)

    For the record I've never been seduced by an older woman who read to me deeply meaningful literature. I have had food poisoning.

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    Default Re: Georges Dubeouf 1933-2000

    I think you meant 1933-2020. He died a few days ago.
     

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    Default Re: Georges Dubeouf 1933-2000

    Quote Originally Posted by WFSTEKL View Post
    I fondly recall being seduced when I was in my early 20's. A young woman slowly got me drunk on a bottle of Beaujolais as she read passages from The Bell Jar. I haven't had a glass of wine since.
    I think I would have been tempted to repeat this exercise.
     

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    Default Re: Georges Dubeouf 1933-2000

    I happened to buy two bottles of Georges' Nouveau as they were just getting the marketing wave for it started. The 1/2 of the first with a nice dinner gave me one of the two most remarkable hangovers of my life. Two weeks later at the end of a busy day when we hadn't had a chance to get wine for dinner we looked at the remaining bottle and said "It couldn't be that bad..." It was that bad and it resulted in the other most remarkable hangover. Still remembered and cringed over 35 years later...
    Guy Washburn

    Photography > www.guywashburn.com

    "If you look around, complacency is the great disease of your autumn years, and I work hard to prevent that."
    --Nick Cave

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    Default Re: Georges Dubeouf 1933-2000

    Assuming "we" means at least 2 persons, how can you get a hangover with only one bottle ? And why would you finish it if it is that bad ?
    --
    T h o m a s

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    Default Re: Georges Dubeouf 1933-2000

    I like when Capt. Hawkeye Pierce and Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt were in their tent talking about moonshine from their homemade distillery:
    "...Oh, yes, 4:00 pm. It was a very good hour. Excellent moonshine..."
     

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    Default Re: Georges Dubeouf 1933-2000

    Quote Originally Posted by sk_tle View Post
    Assuming "we" means at least 2 persons, how can you get a hangover with only one bottle ? And why would you finish it if it is that bad ?
    Got two raging hangovers on 1/2 bottle twice. Didn't taste off. My SO was not so badly effected, but still felt off the next day. Silly us assumed it was other factors...

    I never bought or drank NB again, so I do learn eventually...
    Guy Washburn

    Photography > www.guywashburn.com

    "If you look around, complacency is the great disease of your autumn years, and I work hard to prevent that."
    --Nick Cave

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    Default Re: Georges Dubeouf 1933-2000

    Quote Originally Posted by DJB View Post
    I think I would have been tempted to repeat this exercise.
    Only if it was with Suntory whiskey and Camus.
     

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    Default Re: Georges Dubeouf 1933-2000

    As boy from beaujolais, haut-beaujolais exactly, I don’t like Beaujolais nouveau for many reasons.... it (and people who wanted make only money...) pushed my homeland to intensively produce red wine in bad conditions....and many winemakers have used too many pesticid and now have serious hillness, sad, very sad... and now many people judge the beaujolais just with beaujolais nouveau, but we have great wines as well, like chiroubles, morgon, pouilly... i have to tell you that in my family we never drink beaujolais nouveau, and many people here are doing the same !
    And it would be a pleasure to make rides with too tall and his team in the beautiful mountains (haut beaujolais) and discover real good wines, produced in good conditions with real good winemakers who love their landscape ! An idea for the future and a wish remembering the very cool rides in the Verdon ��

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    Default Re: Georges Dubeouf 1933-2000

    Quote Originally Posted by sebaudet View Post
    As boy from beaujolais, haut-beaujolais exactly, I don’t like Beaujolais nouveau for many reasons.... it (and people who wanted make only money...) pushed my homeland to intensively produce red wine in bad conditions....and many winemakers have used too many pesticid and now have serious hillness, sad, very sad... and now many people judge the beaujolais just with beaujolais nouveau, but we have great wines as well, like chiroubles, morgon, pouilly... i have to tell you that in my family we never drink beaujolais nouveau, and many people here are doing the same !
    And it would be a pleasure to make rides with too tall and his team in the beautiful mountains (haut beaujolais) and discover real good wines, produced in good conditions with real good winemakers who love their landscape ! An idea for the future and a wish remembering the very cool rides in the Verdon ��
    Thank you for confirming what most of us learned through experience. Beaujolais Nouveau is characterized as one of those sweet, round wines void of mineral, earth and jaw flex. If I was a wine consumer, Nebbiolo would be served at my next date.
     

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    Default Re: Georges Dubeouf 1933-2000

    Quote Originally Posted by sebaudet View Post
    As boy from beaujolais, haut-beaujolais exactly, I don’t like Beaujolais nouveau for many reasons.... it (and people who wanted make only money...) pushed my homeland to intensively produce red wine in bad conditions....and many winemakers have used too many pesticid and now have serious hillness, sad, very sad... and now many people judge the beaujolais just with beaujolais nouveau, but we have great wines as well, like chiroubles, morgon, pouilly... i have to tell you that in my family we never drink beaujolais nouveau, and many people here are doing the same !
    And it would be a pleasure to make rides with too tall and his team in the beautiful mountains (haut beaujolais) and discover real good wines, produced in good conditions with real good winemakers who love their landscape ! An idea for the future and a wish remembering the very cool rides in the Verdon ��
    Everything you said. xxoo

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