• Beaujolais in Blue: 2021 Château Thivin

    Beaujolais in Blue: 2021 Château Thivin

    Thivin's Côte de Brouilly has been a staple in our Cru Beaujolais category since day one. The value at $32 per bottle is always refreshing, as top producers in the region continue to climb. These 50-year-old vines are situated on blue volcanic soil and an unusually steep 48% grade slope. There's a blue-fruited quality to the Gamay that leads one to believe terroir can impart an undeniable sense of place.

    Château Thivin’s roots date back to the 15th century, though it was in 1877 when Zaccharie Geoffrey purchased the two-hectare estate at auction that it began as we know it today. Geoffrey's grandson, Claude, was pivotal in creating the Côte de Brouilly appellation during the great depression, and the family has continued the production of this benchmark Côte de Brouilly. Kermit Lynch visited the domaine during his first trip on the wine route with Richard Olney in 1976.

    Shop Château Thivin

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Dutraive's Bright Light: Clos de la Grand Cour

    Dutraive's Bright Light: Clos de la Grand Cour

    Jean-Louis Dutraive's entire stable of wines falls into the elite category of Cru Beaujolais. While he has various parcels in Fleurie, the Clos de la Grand Cour always thrills me for its lightness and ethereal pitch.

    The Clos de la Grand Cour is a true walled-in vineyard, with up to 80-year-old vines growing on almost pure granite with a thin topsoil. The wine ages in 35% in stainless steel, 30% in fûts de chêne, and 30% foudres for 9 to 12 months. Lifted spices meet fresh raspberry and cherry to give a delicate wine with deep texture and a long finish.

    Compared to other titans of Beaujolais, I find Dutraive's wines are often lighter in color, with more lifted spice and a wild, natural element that stands out due to a low sulfur protocol. I try to wait several years after release to tap into these top cuvées. Aged Dutraive is pure magic when fruit begins to fall to the background, and exotic spices become more prominent.

    Shop Dutraive

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • "N" Marks the Spot: 2020 Lapierre Morgon

    I will always beat the drum for Lapierre's Morgon, but when the non-sulfured cuvée is available in California, I'm on cloud nine. No producer in Beaujolais surpasses this Gamay's bright strawberry fruit and granitic mineral core without any restraints.

    In some years, the fruit is deemed ideal to exclude sulfur additions during each phase from harvest through fermentation, aging, and bottling—such wines are marked with an "N" meaning they are non-sulfured. Proposing no sulfur is risky for others, but Lapierre has mastered it over the years. This estate's Morgon is the model of soundness with an ultra-delicate framework.

    After taking over the family domaine in 1973, Marcel's encounter with Jules Chauvet in 1981 launched the shift toward natural viticulture and winemaking in Beaujolais. Along with Jean Foillard, Guy Breton, and Jean-Paul Thévenet, the Gang of Four's practices spread quickly and made clear that the natural route yielded wines of authenticity and joie de vivre (joy of life). Since 2010, Marcel's children, Matthieu and Camille, have carried on the same natural approach that placed their father in the hearts of winemakers and enthusiasts across the globe.

    Shop Lapierre

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Fleurie Rising: 2020 Yann Bertrand

    Fleurie Rising: 2020 Yann Bertrand

    Cru Beaujolais has been a cornerstone of our selection from the start. While Foillard, Métras, Lapierre, and Dutraive represent the foundation for the greatest value reds in France, the younger generation is now clearly making its mark. Yann may be separated from the aforementioned because of age, but when you line up his wines, it's crystal clear these are commanding interpretations of terroir.

    Yann grew up in Fleurie, but after studying commerce in school and traveling through the Alps, he never expected to circle back to become its generation's brightest talent. He found himself working in a wine shop, and surrounded by passionate people, the flames of curiosity were stoked. He spent time working under perhaps the region's most revered names: Yvon Métras and Jean Foillard. Like them, Yann knew that organic farming and traditional methods in the cellar would be his path forward.

    In 1992, Yann's family purchased vineyards and slowly converted them to organic farming. Yann took a more active role in leading the domaine in 2013, and he began applying what he had soaked up from his apprenticeships. Similarly, Yann's style is one of elegance, silken texture, and laser focus, expressing each unique terroir in the Famille Bertrand stable.

    Shop Yann Bertrand

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • 2019 Cru Beaujolais: Dutraive, Yann Bertrand, & More

    2019 Cru Beaujolais: Dutraive, Yann Bertrand, & More

    2009's hot growing season brought a bold, ripe personality to Beaujolais that year, and the style pulled in many new Bojo drinkers, myself included. If 2009 was the watershed moment for Cru Beaujolais, 2019 is a fitting vintage for comparison ten years later.

    These days, though, Cru Bojo fans are crossing their fingers in hopes of a relatively cool growing season that'll result in wild herbs, snappy, tart red fruit, and a pronounced mineral spine. Moving forward, 2019 is as good as it gets! It was again a hot growing season, but vignerons are much more suited to managing threats from drought and burn. And compared to recent vintages, 2019 has an underlying tension and crisper form.

    If I had to pick one producer who nailed this vintage's cooler-side-of-the-pillow, it'd have to be Guy Breton, as he's always one to pick on the earlier side and limit extraction, ensuring levity and freshness are the key markers. While some still love the bursting Beaujolais style, the producers listed below are my favorites in 2019. I dug deep to find the most classic examples of the vintage!

    Shop 2019 Beaujolais

    Posted by Max Kogod