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Château Thivin’s Best-Kept Secret

Château Thivin’s Best-Kept Secret

by Anthony Lynch by Anthony Lynch

2022 Beaujolais Villages Rosé

2022 Beaujolais Villages Rosé

Château Thivin   

Discount Eligible $25.00
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Each spring, I head to the Beaujolais region for one of my favorite wine-related rituals of the year. The annual tasting at Château Thivin is memorable for many reasons, not least of which is the opportunity to catch up with the lovely Geoffray family and reflect on thirty years of business together. Then there is the scrupulous tasting and blending of a dozen stellar tanks of Gamay for their flagship Côte-de-Brouilly bottling, followed by the generous lunch of traditional French comfort food, executed to perfection by Evelyne Geoffray and often accompanied by a special older vintage.
    But the first order of business, before we stain our teeth with crimson rouges or sample any of Evelyne’s creations, is to taste Thivin’s Beaujolais-Villages rosé. It’s the perfect mise en bouche, as the French say—a palate opener to sharpen the senses and introduce your taste buds to the day’s first drops of wine.
    Thivin’s Beaujolais-Villages vines sit opposite the Côte-de-Brouilly, where steep expanses of pink granite cascade down from wooded hilltops toward the valley below. These Gamay vines are over fifty years old—rare in rosé production—and you can sense a mouthwatering salinity that mimics the old-vine roots licking up mineral salts from the granitic bedrock.
    Also unusual for rosé production, the Geoffrays ferment this wine with native yeasts and embrace malolactic fermentation, a practice Kermit and I have long associated with our favorite rosés. The result is a silky mouthfeel and delicate fruit that reflects the gentleness of these natural methods. The choice to harvest early assures a low alcohol content and a spark of freshness that enlivens one’s palate.
   With its delightful peachiness and stimulating hints of its granitic terroir, Thivin’s rosé really is the ideal mise en bouche. Pouring a cold glass is just what’s needed to charm the senses in anticipation of more great things to come.

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About The Region

Beaujolais

map of Beaujolais

After years of the region’s reputation being co-opted by mass-produced Beaujolais Nouveau and the prevalence of industrial farming, the fortunes of vignerons from the Beaujolais have been on the rise in the past couple of decades. Much of this change is due to Jules Chauvet, a prominent Beaujolais producer who Kermit worked with in the 1980s and arguably the father of the natural wine movement, who advocated not using herbicides or pesticides in vineyards, not chaptalizing, fermenting with ambient yeasts, and vinifying without SO2. Chief among Chauvet’s followers was Marcel Lapierre and his three friends, Jean Foillard, Guy Breton, and Jean-Paul Thévenet—a group of Morgon producers who Kermit dubbed “the Gang of Four.” The espousal of Chauvet’s methods led to a dramatic change in quality of wines from Beaujolais and with that an increased interest and appreciation for the AOC crus, Villages, and regular Beaujolais bottlings.

The crus of Beaujolais are interpreted through the Gamay grape and each illuminate the variety of great terroirs available in the region. Distinguishing itself from the clay and limestone of Burgundy, Beaujolais soils are predominantly decomposed granite, with pockets of blue volcanic rock. The primary vinification method is carbonic maceration, where grapes are not crushed, but instead whole clusters are placed in a tank, thus allowing fermentation to take place inside each grape berry.

Much like the easy-going and friendly nature of many Beaujolais vignerons, the wines too have a lively and easy-drinking spirit. They are versatile at table but make particularly good matches with the local pork sausages and charcuterie. Though often considered a wine that must be drunk young, many of the top crus offer great aging potential.

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Vintage Chart

Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch