Château Thivin Brouilly 2005
This is a wine that refuses to shout, even though it has an awful lot to say. Brouilly is one of
the ten Beaujolais crus, those distinct villages that get the most from what the better known
Beaujolais, nouveau or otherwise, does the least with: the Gamay grape. Legend has it that a
Roman lieutenant named Brulius was stationed in the area some time back, hence the
Most wines are engineered to give good color and appearance these days, but the lovely purple tinged with shades of translucent violet really stands out in this $12 wine. The nose gives restrained fruit: red berry, black cherry, fresh apricot right from the tree, earth. The wine is unoaked and a sensible 12.5% alcohol. Before even experiencing the acid and tannin qualities—and these do their work—the first feel on the mouth is one of softness and civility.
Strawberry and raspberry—both with a little pleasant pucker—head the fruit contingent, but there are also notes of ripeness: a little bit of tempting candy (although the wine is entirely dry) and a hint of sweet stewed fruit compote. There is a floral and herbal element as well; you are out in the meadow, you have consumed some wine, it is a breezy summer day, and you are with someone you will later profess to love. I am in fact not sharing this wine, and that is a crying shame, as it is so social.
The finish is long, and reminds you that these fruits came from the earth. A little initial bitterness with the first few swallows evolves into the best and ripest raspberry and strawberry notes. I want to reach for the berries themselves, even though my brain tells me these flavors came from grapes. The effect is simple, and yet I know a simpleton could never have achieved this wine.
This Brouilly is a fine offering. As soon as you imagine layers of complexity you wish it had,
it seduces you with the well-coordinated elements it does possess.
Verdict: Seductive Softness
A wine can speak for itself and insist on being accepted on its own terms, as its own yardstick, if it commits itself totally, and if, in turn, the consumer approaches the wine with a completely open mind.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman