Not all Beaujolais is red: the region’s sporadic limestone outcrops offer the possibility to craft compelling whites, too, in the kingdom of Gamay. In what is decidedly a southerly latitude for the Chardonnay grape, the folks at Château Thivin farm a parcel at high elevation, where cool nights ensure focused flavors and zippy acidity. Indeed, the Clos de Rochebonne, a stony plot at 480 meters above sea level, has all the makings of a great white wine terroir. Aged in barrels with complete malolactic, this magnolia- and hazelnut-scented Beaujolais blanc has the elegance, subtle creaminess, and mineral-tinged finish typical of fine Burgundy. It also has immediate charm and drinkability, as any self-respecting Beaujolais should.
At first, a dollop of supple, juicy fruit evokes the sandy layer of topsoil into which these Gamay vines—many of them century-old—sink their roots. Then a granite kick, full of gritty spice, clutches the palate with gusto, conjuring the stony bedrock beneath. After all, the vineyards of Régnié sit high on a slope between Brouilly and Morgon, so you can expect the perfume and brightness of the former along with a hint of the mineral-driven structure typical of the latter. And let us not forget the house style—Breton’s wines are designed to be drunk with reckless abandon, and this is no exception.
Valentin Montanet of Vézelay is the author of this brand-new cuvée, the severe frost in Burgundy having driven him south in search of available fruit to purchase. Luckily, Valentin consumes Beaujolais with regularity and is well connected to growers in the region, so he relished the opportunity to vinify one of his own. The rarest of Beaujolais’ ten crus, Chénas is one for those of us who like a bit of meat to sink our teeth into. Its firm tannins are enrobed by chewy Gamay fruit, like a cherry pit surrounded by sweet, pulpous flesh.