Three student-produced French Nouveau-style wines will be released at Le Vin Nouveau, the Fresno State Winery’s annual tribute to a French fall wine tradition, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18, at California State University, Fresno’s Enology building.

The event mirrors the observance held in France each November to herald the first bottling of the recent harvest. Fresno State’s winery, the first bonded, commercial winery to operate on a university campus in the nation, is one of only a handful of wineries outside France to produce Nouveau-style wines, said Kenneth Fugelsang, winemaster and enology professor.

“According to tradition, at one minute after midnight on the third Thursday of each November, winemakers from villages in France release their first vintage of the year, Beaujolais Nouveau, with much fanfare,” said Fugelsang, whose enology expertise has become internationally acclaimed.

As part of this renowned tradition, students in Fresno State’s production class produce the Nouveau wines in fewer than eight weeks, when most wines take 12 months or more.

“These wines are some of the most interesting wines we make,” Fugelsang said. “Even better is the fact that these wines pair perfectly with many holiday entrees.”

The releases are:

  • Fresno State’s 2010 Nouveau Blanc — made using the classic French style of carbonic maceration. Fruit aromas coupled with orange blossom, honeysuckle, and a spicy citrus finish. Fugelsang recommends serving chilled with favorite holiday hors d’oeuvres and meals.
  • The 2010 Nouveau Rouge — features bright and refreshing flavors with aromas of red cherry, luscious black currant and a spice that will complement your holiday feast.
  • The Vin D’une Nuit — an easy-drinking harvest wine that entices the drinker with a soft and creamy palate and the alluring aromas of strawberries, peaches, watermelon taffy and cream. This wine will accentuate and enhance the holiday feast at your family’s table. Serve chilled and allow to air one minute before serving.

John Giannini, Fresno State winemaker, said Beaujolais Nouveau owes its easy drinkability to a winemaking process called carbonic maceration — or whole berry fermentation.

“This technique preserves the fresh, fruity quality of the wine, without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins,” Giannini said. “These wines are not meant for long-term aging and are best enjoyed within the first year of release when they are fresh and lively.”

The Fresno State event will highlight the history of Nouveau wines and give information about the different styles used to make each wine, providing enology students the opportunity to showcase their academic progress. It is hosted by Fresno State Winery, members of the Enology Society, and faculty and staff from the Department of Viticulture and Enology.

The $15 admission includes an exclusive taste of the 2010 Nouveau wines, light hors d’oeuvres and a cooking demonstration by Dwayne McFann, executive sous chef of the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite. Chef McFann will prepare a dessert that features Fresno State Pistachio Nut Ice Cream.

Representatives from the Tenaya Lodge also will be available to give a sneak peek at the nationally-recognized Fresno State Winemaster’s Weekend to be held at the resort March 4-6, 2011.

Le Vin Nouveau attendees will have a chance to win a two-night package for the 2011 Winemaster’s Weekend, which showcases Fresno State wine and other agricultural products. Advance reservations for the two-night package for two also will be available for purchase at Le Vin Nouveau.

The Le Vin Nouveau is open to the public. Guests must be at least 21 years old to attend. (No children allowed.) For more information, call 559.278.4867 or visit

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