Beaujolais
News & Views

A ‘new generation’ for Beaujolais has arrived

September 22, 2022

Upon attending Les Rendez-Vous Beaujolais in Toronto, I was fortunate to take a deep dive into the Beaujolais Nouvelle Génération’. I sat and tasted with four key Beaujolais principals who represent the region’s new upward direction and affirmation for consistent quality.

There are, of course, many others who have joined in on this ‘new generation’ of Beaujolais, but during this occasion, I met Cathy Lathuiliere of Domaine de Lathuilere-Gravallon; Laurent Gamonet of Georges Duboeuf; Jean-Etienne Chermette of Domaine Chermette; and Philippe Marx of Vinescence.

Read Also: i4C: A seriously cool chardonnay celebration

Laurent Gamonet is the export director for Georges DuBoeuf and was inspired with the wines of Beaujolais after a personal tasting with Georges DuBoeuf himself. He’s been working with the company for a decade now. I asked Laurent what it is about Georges DuBoeuf that makes them the most popular Beaujolais producer in Canada: “Our partnerships with 250 winemakers and growers – with 80 being just winemakers – we have the capacity to produce quality wines, in volume.”

Gamonet adds: “Our wines are fine, elegant, fresh, affordable, and quality.” With equal parts production of Villages, Cru, and Beaujolais Nouveau, Georges DuBoeuf is reaching the market at all levels – an incredible asset to Canadian consumers, as Canada is Beaujolais’ fourth largest export market.

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(Photo by Nick Wons) Cathy Lathuiliere pouring her wines at the Les Rendez-Vous event in Toronto.

Cathy Lathuiliere is the owner and winemaker of Domaine de Lathuiliere and runs the entire winery along with her husband in central Morgon, where the estate was established in 1875. The couple cultivate wine in the Morgon, Brouilly, Fleurie, and Beaujolais Blanc appellations. Like many Beaujolais producers, they practice minimal intervention winemaking, and Domaine de Lathuiliere are HVE (High Environmental Value) certified.

The couple are hands-on with everything associated with the winery, as Cathy tells me they do “everything just on their own”. Their Fleurie appellation wine truly caught my attention – it was velvety, cohesive, and delicate. This wine is Cathy’s favourite of Domaine de Lathuiliere (and mine!), and she jokes that she is not just the winemaker, but also the taster. Nothing was lost in translation regarding the passion and work that goes into the Lathuiliere wines – each displaying precision, focus, and expression of terroir from each region. Domaine de Lathuiliere is a standout for having consistent quality and captivating wines across their portfolio.

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(Photo by Nick Wons) Leah Spooner tastes and talks with key principals in the ‘Nouvelle Génération’.

I was especially excited to meet and pick the brain of Vinescence Commercial Director Philippe Marx on Beaujolais wine, as he has been in the wine business for 39 years, living and working within Beaujolais for 35 of them. Vinescence is a company that is a cooperative with the title of largest producer to be HVE certified, having approximately 800 hectares of vines under this title.

Asked if he thought the wines of Beaujolais will grow in North America hand in hand with sustainability and environmental value within the industry, Philippe concurred, saying that Vinescence had their first organic wine certified in 2021, with more coming later in the year.

“Beaujolais is gaining popularity with the organic and sustainable labels that consumers are looking for,” explains Philippe, adding that they fit into the “approachability” trend. “We are speaking to the people with our wine.”

Rose Wine

(Photo by Nick Wons) Rosé was a major highlight at this year’s tasting event.

Beaujolais winegrowers were among the first to implement environmental initiatives in the vineyard, and as of recently, have a new goal for their agricultural practices called agroecology. Inter Beaujolais – the Beaujolais Wine Council – describes agroecology as being the aim to achieve a high-performance production system with respect to environmental, economic and social impacts, while preserving natural resources.

Winemaker Jean-Etienne of Domaines Chermette produces wines in several appellations, from the north to the south of Beaujolais. Domaines Chermette is also HVE certified, and their initiative is to grow perfectly ripe and healthy grapes that produce the most optimum natural wines. Their wines reflect a perfect balance of tradition with diversity, as Jean-Etienne has also released his own range that explores new terroirs and grapes.

As Beaujolais Nouvelle Génération has an aim to broaden their spectrum of wines, it was a treat to taste some rosé, and also some Beaujolais Blanc made with chardonnay grapes – which is quite a rarity to see here in Ontario.

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(Photo by Nick Wons) Domaine Thivolle

During my walk-around tasting, I discovered a small producer, Domaine Thivolle, that produces wines from the Chiroubles and Morgon cru regions of Beaujolais. The wines from this winery were exceptional – expressing incredible fruit, energy, and a purity of earth and region combined. Domaine Thivolle has yet to secure representation here in Ontario, but I am looking forward to when they do.

Being fully immersed in the romantic wine world of Beaujolais is truly a wonderful experience. Les Rendez-Vous Beaujolais has proven that wines of this region are not only the fruity, light wines that many know them to be. They’re also wines with serious depth and character of terroir that are enthusiastically waiting to be explored by avid Beaujolais consumers.

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