The Beauty of Beaujolais

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.

The 17th-century Chateâu de la Barge in Burgundy (Photograph courtesy Chateau de la Barge)

The 17th-century Chateâu de la Barge in Burgundy (Photograph courtesy Chateau de la Barge)

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.

Château de la Barge, in Crêches-sur-Saône, is an ivy-covered 17th-century manor house with a swimming pool and high-ceilinged rooms. From $143.

> Where to Eat

Grapes on the vine in Beaujolais, France (Photograph by Nikki Britz, Flickr)

Grapes on the vine in Beaujolais, France (Photograph by Nikki Britz, Flickr)

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.

> What to Read

Start with the official Discover Beaujolais website for a general description of the region and move on to the Winetour-France website for culinary coverage.

This piece was written and reported by Bruce Schoenfeld. For more on Beaujolais, check out “Under the Influencein the October 2013 issue of Traveler magazine.

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