Not Just Nouveau: Cru Beaujolais and Pairings for #Thanksgiving

Today’s the third Thursday of November which means it’s Beaujolais Day, the day that the Beaujolais Nouveau is released.

Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine that was picked just a few weeks before, fermented, and bottled. It’s bright and fresh and meant to drink young. This was the first wine of the vintage but also, if you’d run out of wine, the first wine available. It’s a moment to reflect on the past year — and our hopes for the future!

Beaujolais Day is the perfect time to celebrate all wine from Beaujolais — and Gamay Beaujolais the grape too — as well as this year’s harvest.

Beaujolais is a great wine to pair with Thanksgiving meals — from appetizers through to roast turkey and many of the sides. Today we have a cheese plate, a pear salad, roasted carrots, and fried chicken! Go here to read how in 2016 we paired Beaujolais with pumpkin soup, gourmet mini-pizzas, and a persimmon salad; or here to read about how in 2017 we paired Beaujolais with a dried cherry and pomegranate salad, roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and Coq au vin.  Both posts link to posts from the #Winophiles with reviews and pairings for Beaujolais. And back in 2010, we paired a Beaujolais with pork loin.  And here are more pairings! 

By way of introduction, while California grows some mighty fine Gamay Beaujolais, today we’re talking about the wine that comes from France. Where in France is Beaujolais? The 61 square miles of Beaujolais’s granitic soil overlaps Burgundy to the north and Rhone to the south.

Beaujolais wine region of France

In it you’ll find 2k wine growers in 12 appellations which includes 10 Crus:

1. Brouilly
2. Chénas
3. Chiroubles
4. Côte de Brouilly
5. Fleurie
6. Juliénas
7. Morgon
8. Moulin-à-Vent
9. Régnié
10. Saint-Amour
11. Beaujolais
12. Beaujolais Villages

Today for Beaujolais Day, we’re writing about two wines from two cru from the southern part of the cru area of Beaujolais,  Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly, which is located in the middle of the region.

WINES: samples provided for my review consideration 

Domaine de Briante – Brouilly Tradition 2015 SRP $20
Domaine Baron de L’Ecluse – Côte de Brouilly Les Garances 2015 SRP $29


  • Cheese plate:
    duck liver cognac pâté, brie, humbolt fog, mimolette, olive goat cheese, salami bites
  • Salad:
    mixed baby greens with pear, tangerines, candied walnuts and a rose vinegarette.
  • Main course
    fried chicken, mashed potatoes and country gravy, with oven roasted carrots.

The wines didn’t pair well with the citrus in the salad, so stick with apples, or pears and toasted or  very lightly candied walnuts or pecans.

These wines loved the roasted carrots making us believe that any roasted root vegetable would go with these wines; we already know many red wines and particularly Beaujolais are fabulous with roasted brussels sprouts — add some bacon or cook them in bacon or duck fat!

We know that Beaujolais and Merlot are wonderful with squash soup, but after having the roasted carrots I could imagine that as a soup pairing. I’m not a carrot lover, so that’s really saying something. The roasted carrots are exciting with this wine, so much so, that Sue continued to comment on how well they went together. I definitely liked the purple carrots best!

While not fabulous with the country gravy, these wines would would pair well with a traditional Thanksgiving turkey gravy.

The fried chicken brought out many of the different nuances of the wine: the wine becomes more fruity and luscious, with more baking spices and cooked fruit as opposed to fresh and raw fruit without the food.

Both wines are really fabulous with food.

Domaine de Briante – Brouilly Tradition 2015 – 13.5% alcohol – SRP $20

Domaine de Briante says that they bought the Domaine in 2011 with their family, the Faupin family from Beaune where they are a French leader on wine equipment supplying. They renovated the vineyard and winery. The husband and wife team are both winemakers who travelled quite a few before coming back to France with this life project. Both have a big Burgundian influence in their personal stories so they are adapting their knowledge to the new land including reintroducing “plowing in the vineyard, punch down, long maceration and oak barrel ageing in the cellar to produce tight but concentrate wines, expressive of their soil.”

Beaujolais grapes

Color: Ruby red with a golden ring, cherry cola or flat Dr. Pepper

Nose: Sulphur hot springs, a bit of funk with fruity undertones, as the wine opens in the glass, some of the funk blows away revealing the red fruit.

Palate: Cranberry and mulberry tartness, minerals — fortunately this wine does not taste at all like it smells! Even though it is light, there is a great intensity in the unusual interesting red tart fruit.

Pairing: A great Thanksgiving wine. This wine loved the pâté and brie, it cut the richness in the food and a lovely fruitiness shines through in the wine. The funkiness of the Humboldt fog becomes beautifully fruity with the wine.

When thinking about pairing cheeses with this wine, go blue, go creamy, go mildly sharp aged cheese, olives are nice, and the pâté is out of this world.

This lineup will also work with the Domaine Baron as well. The goat cheese was a bit too bright for the wine. Cured meat is also great with the wine.

Check out their Facebook page where I found the image of 2018 harvest above.

US Importer: Winebow Group

Domaine Baron de L’Ecluse – Côte de Brouilly Les Garances 2015 13% alcohol –  SRP $29

  • AOC: Côte de Brouilly – Cru of Beaujolais.
  • Vintage: 2015 – Les Garances
  • Grape: 100% Gamay
  • Method: manual harvest
  • Age of vines: up to 80 years old single vineyard
  • Production: 2000 bottles per year; only 600-700 cases.
  • Vinification: Burgundian winemaking (only berries 100% destemmed) – maceration 20 days.
  • 12 Months in French oak barrels.
  • Age: up to 10 years (2025)

The Domaine says: “Our 6 hectares estate is planted with Gamay vines and is located in Odenas, at the center of the Beaujolais region. The wine estate is on the steep side of Mount Brouilly with eastern and southern exposures. The panoramic view is exceptional. The vines are tended with respect for the environment. Wines are made with passion and often win medals and awards. They are at their best after 3-4 years of bottling: it is the best time to see the true character and quality of Côte de Brouilly.”

The grapes in this wine come from a very small parcel of 80 year old vines with only 600 or so cases produced making this wine very special.

Color: Red garnet with a light pink ring. Not very dense or dark.

Nose: Tart cherry, cigar box, a bit closed in.

Palate: Tart red fruit; tight; could use a bit of decanting; minerals. As it opens more, more black and blue fruit, and greater complexity on a lengthy finish. I’m looking forward to tasting this wine on day 2 and 3!

Pairing: Beautiful with the pate and brie; the tartness of the wine cuts the richness of the pate and brie. This wine also went great with the humble fog: What a great pairing. Everything that went well with the wine above also went well with this wine. Without the food, both wines are too tart and acidic for most palates. They need the fat to smooth and even the wines out. With food, the wines are fabulous.

If you speak French, you can learn more about the wine and the winery here:

Happy Beaujolais Day! What will you be drinking today to celebrate?

PS Stay tuned — and SUBSCRIBE– for more “wine days” — Zinfandel Day is coming up next Weds. and Carmenere Day is Sat. Nov. 24. Both of these wines are great for Thanksgiving dinner as well — but I have to admit, my favorite go to Thanksgiving wine is Zinfandel because it goes well with Turkey, Ham, AND Prime Rib! 


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