In France’s Beaujolais, you’ll find an intoxicating blend of warmth and welcome, but, as writer Bruce Schoenfeld warns, “Don’t expect hospitality directors or gift shops at the wineries you visit.” Advance appointments by phone or e-mail are necessary, since nobody is waiting around to receive visitors.
Here’s an inside look at how to get the most out of this delightful region:
> Where to Sip
Tastings are nearly always informal, with glasses resting on an upright barrel in the cellar and a proprietor or family member pouring. You’ll rarely be charged a fee, but the wines are inexpensive enough that you can show your appreciation by buying a bottle. Just remember that bringing more than one liter home will subject you to a small tariff.
Lathuilière-Gravallon,Villié-Morgon (+33-04-74-04-23-23). This little-known husband-and-wife producer, tucked behind a busy road, makes fresh-tasting, fruit-driven wines that you’ll rarely find in American shops. One to buy: The earthy yet bright 2011 Brouilly Pisse-Vieille.
M. Lapierre, Villié-Morgon (+33-04-74-04-23-89), is the most highly regarded winery in the region. Mathieu Lapierre speaks English and is eager to spread his gospel of natural wine. One to buy: the flagship 2011 Morgon. It’s complex, minerally, and age-worthy.
Voûte des Crozes, 80 High Street, Cercié (+33-04-74-66-80-37), features high-quality, traditional Beaujolais from one of the area’s few female producers. She’ll taste with you at her living-room table. One to buy: 2011 Côte-de-Brouilly; a rich, round, full expression of Beaujolais fruit.
> Where to Stay
On the northern edge of Beaujolais in tiny but fashionable Saint-Amour, Auberge du Paradis offers eight rooms, individually styled. Breakfast is a highlight: Nearly everything — jams to charcuterie — is made in-house. From $175.
> Where to Eat
Olivier Muguet specializes in traditional dishes made with seasonal produce at La Poularde in La Chapelle-de-Guinchay. Dinner for two (without wine): $247.
The look of neighborhood bistro Le Pré du Plat (35 Grande Rue, Cercié) is modern, but the food — particularly the daily specials — is down-home. Features a strong selection of local wines. Lunch for two: $60.