COTE De’ BROUILLY, Beaujolais, France – The NBA has Lebron and Steph while the NFL boasted dynamic duos like Peyton and Tom.
Leagues boast superstars but they don’t necessarily play on the same teams. Two of the Cote de Brouilly’s wine superstars are unequivocally Claude Geoffray and Nicole Chanrion.
The duo’s story is one of a lasting family legacy while the other is an endearing matriarch of the wine region.
Geoffray recently retired as the fifth generation winemaker at Chateau Thivin high atop Mont Brouilly. He maintains the family business started in June 1877 by Zaccharie and Marguerite Geoffray. While Claude is ever-present around the winery, acting as ambassador and leading tastings of their Chardonnay and Gamay-based wines, the 6th generation, Claude’s son Claude Edwouard, will continue the tradition. The son’s education came from working side by side with his father and in the vineyards and wineries of Saint Emilion, Switzerland, Austria, New Zealand, and others.
Claude hosted our foursome in the Chateau’s family dining room with the house dog and cat snuggled in front of a roaring fireplace on a cold November Wednesday. He poured us his well-balanced and soft Chardonnay, made from grapes on a plot an hour south of the Chateau. And then we explored his signature Cote de Brouilly, an estate Cote de Brouilly, and the family signature bottle made from the best grapes each season the Cote de Brouilly Zaccharie.
One of the great things about Beaujolais Cru is the cost. The Cote de Brouilly sells in the US for $20-$25. The Zaccharie is in limited US release. At the winery, the Zaccharie sells for 29E, though we saw it at a local restaurant in Morgon for much more.
During our walk through the various portions of the cellars he picked up a dusty bottle of 2003 Cote de Brouilly and poured that for us as a grand finale. The wine was gorgeous, elegant and slays every thought that Beaujolais Cru is wine meant to be drunk when it’s young.
The Geoffray name has a long history and bright future. Claude told us he was off to Paris to present his wines while his son, stepdaughter and three grandchildren keep busy atop Mont Brouilly.
Down the windy roads up Mont Brouilly in a small village, unassumingly along the main highway is the production facility for Domaine Chanrion. As we pull into the parking lot a spry, white-haired woman walks briskly to meet us. No introductions are really necessary because our host is Nicole Chanrion the matriarch of Brouilly.
Chanrion has guided her one-woman operation since the 1970s, leading the way for female winemakers. She has won the respect of her peers – male and female – heading the Brouilly winemakers association. In recent years, her son has joined the team.
Her unbridled charm, wit and a twinkle of the eye is among her many charms. The large wooden casks where she ages her Cote de Brouilly are among her tools to make one signature bottle of great Beaujolais Cru.
She took glee in finding a 2010 Cru to pour for us and again prove these wines will age beautifully. But Chanrion is a global citizens not afraid to share her opinions on politics and politicians. She does it all with a wink and a nod but expresses concerns about the potential 25 percent tariffs which could hit French wines. The majority of Chanrion’s annual production is sold in the U.S.
After a few photos we said our goodbyes. She was clearly thrilled to have US visitors including one who helped sell her wines in the US. She giggled and gasped when told a photo of her and I would be displayed in the shop.
What an awesome day of great people and outstanding wine.