Why Château Thivin is Essential
In the southern stretches of the Cru du Beaujolais, the star power of Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie and Morgon subsides a bit, just as the geology gets seemingly more complex and interesting. Anchoring this landscape of vineyards-upon-vineyards is a hulking volcanic hill named after Brulius, a Roman general. The Côte de Brouilly and its only-slightly-less-compelling neighbor Brouilly tend to show off Gamay Noir's fruity and playful side, with Château Thivin making the most substantial and unique versions. Château Thivin's wines add something different and unique to the Cru Canon, and it is not necessarily because of technique, it is because of terroir.
The estate dates back to the 15th century, with the current owners — the Geoffray family — taking over in 1877. Their approach is steadfastly organic, but on the Côte de Brouilly's steep slopes where gradients often exceed 40%, this devotion can be back-breaking. The vines are predominantly over half-a-century old, and the fruit they yield is sorted and vinified separately then blended together, which in the case of the Côte de Brouilly, becomes a cuvée of the hill's geologic madness.
Another reason to turn to this estate is for a rare taste of Beaujolais Blanc. Less than 1% of Beaujolais' hills are planted to anything other than Gamay, and much of that is Chardonnay. The whispery light "Clos de Rochebonne" is the work of careful, meticulous winemaking, and it strongly suggests that there is more to Beaujolais than just Gamay Noir.