A Bargain Beaujolais

 Photograph by Michael Pirrocco

One of the greatest wine happenings of recent years has been the renewed interest in France’s Beaujolais region. For sure, an ocean of sketchy plonk still flows from this otherwise charmingly rustic appellation, chief among them Georges Duboeuf’s ubiquitous (and insipid) Beaujolais Nouveau, which many blame for tarnishing the region’s reputation. But thanks to the tireless evangelizing of sommeliers and right-thinking wine writers, many oenophiles have come to recognize that the Beaujolais region turns out some fabulous reds (all made from the gamay grape) that also happen to offer superb value.

Amid this renaissance, one name in particular remains sorely underrated. Château Thivin has long been one of the great domaines of Beaujolais, and a source of reliably outstanding wines from the sub-zones of Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly. Thivin dates back to the 15th century, but its modern history began in 1877, when it was purchased by Zaccharie Geoffray (it has remained in the Geoffray family ever since). Though Thivin has won its share of accolades over the decades, somehow it is always overshadowed by celebrated producers such as Lapierre, Foillard, Roilette, and Brun. It’s a ridiculous oversight. And a sip of its 2011 Château Thivin Côte de Brouilly ($21) is all the proof we needed to become a convert. It is everything Beaujolais should be: Relatively light in body and texture, but with deep red fruit flavors, great floral and earth notes, and plenty of acidic zing. It is a wine full of life and character, and a relative bargain. If asked, “gulpable” would be an excellent way of describing it. [$21; wine-searcher.com]