November Dirt – Dirt Wines for Thanksgiving!


The yearly Thanksgiving festivities at my house begin with a long lunch inspired by a visit to Chateau Thivin in the Beaujolais. Our family is far flung. When we manage to get everybody under one roof, we like to spend as much time eating, drinking and celebrating as possible. A lunch at Chateau Thivin is an extraordinary event set in the subterranean hearth room of their historic 16th century Chateau.  There, Evelyne Geoffray, a chef of some renown, lays out an enormous array of expertly prepared foods. Plates of cheese, the most amazing fresh vegetable salads you could imagine,  perfectly light, savory quiche and slices of marvelous Jambon Cru fill a U-shaped table that takes up most of the room. The sights, smells and flavors of the meal are at once comforting and exciting. The first time I sat at that table, I knew this was something I wanted to do for my family.


As the afternoon unfolds, Evelyne’s husband Claude uncorks bottle after bottle of Thivin Brouilly. It is difficult to come up for air when partaking in a bacchanal of this sort. I did once. For that brief moment, I marveled at the wonderful versatility of these wines. They seemed a perfect, effortless match for such a wide array of foods. Even more intriguing, each of the wines Claude passed around the table maintained its presence despite all of that gustatory pressure. The wines of Chateau Thivin, easily the most beautiful of all of the bottlings from Brouilly that I have enjoyed, are wines of their terroir. That terroir is not so easily masked in the Brouilly “Reverdon” or Thivin’s Côte de Brouilly.


The “Reverdon”, from the mostly granitic soils of the Reverdon section of Mont Brouilly, is a wine of surprising freshness and finesse; with black fruit aromas against a wonderfully saline backdrop. It is a wonderful accompaniment to those salads and the ham. The Côte de Brouilly is a complex whirl of fresh bright red fruit and mineral aromatics that seems to peel off in waves of complexity that make it a slightly more meditative wine. A slice of quiche, a glass of Côte de Brouilly… heaven.  A recent email from a colleague served as a reminder of the meal’s finale: Evelyne’s butter tart. This simple delicacy is a phenomenon that exceeds my descriptive abilities. In my memory, it was a wonderful companion to my last glass of Brouilly; but after such a meal who could be sure. Well, Evelyne generously shared the recipe with my friend. He had this to say about it: “Moreover, we confirmed that it does indeed do something to a glass of cold Beaujolais that is beyond imagination.” I have included the recipe below. With the holiday’s approaching, I plan to drink quite a bit of Beaujolais – much of it from my personal stocks of Chateau Thivin’s wines. I also plan to finish up our lunch with a slice of Evelyne’s tart and a cold, refreshing  glass of Brouilly.


That long Thanksgiving lunch is a prelude to our Thanksgiving dinner. After a nap and a brisk afternoon walk, we get down to the business of the bird and all of its traditional accompaniments. It’s not wise to mess with a good thing, so we stick with Beaujolais. We just up the ante a bit in terms of the depth and power of the wines at the table. We generally have a full compliment of cru wines from the likes of Foillard, Lapierre and Thevenet; each delicious in it’s own right (we have yet to find an unfinished bottle among the evening’s casualties).  The wine I most look forward to opening is  the Morgon “Vieilles Vignes” made by Guy Breton. More often than not, it is my favorite of the Morgon bottlings from the Gang of Four. Those who know me know that this is akin to me saying I prefer my daughter to my son.  A sleek, plush wine, it offers up an expansive range of aromatic complexity that begins with ripe red fruit but always includes wonderful elements of earth, baking spices and fresh herbs. This wine’s aromatic intensity and remarkable freshness can be traced directly back to Breton’s eighty year old gamay vines. Planted to granitic soils, these old vines produce exceptional fruit which gives Breton’s Morgon the kind of lift that would make most winemakers from the Cote d’Or blush with envy.


It goes without saying that the Morgon “Vieilles Vignes” pairs with turkey, stuffing and all the traditional foods that fill our table. Every family makes it’s own traditions. One of ours is the addition of a cauliflower and caramelized onion tart to the Thanksgiving table. A few moist slices of turkey, some gravy and a slice of that tart, all washed down with Breton’s Morgon – easily the highlight of the meal for me. The tart recipe is an easy one. It was published in an old issue of Bon Appetite. Luckily, the internet is a thing. You can find the recipe by clicking here.




The Butter Tart from Evelyne Geoffray


250g (2 cups) flour

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

2 eggs

30 gm (2 Tbsp) granulated sugar

1 cup milk

100 gm (1/3cup) soft butter

1 pinch of salt

Crème topping:

100 gm crème fraiche

80 gm (1/2 cup) granulated sugar

Some thinly sliced butter to top

Put the flour and the yeast  in a large bowl, make a pit and pour in the 2 eggs, the milk and the sugar. Mix all together, add the butter and the salt and knead well.

Cover and let rise for 30-40 min.

Heat the oven (200°C or 400°F)

Form two round flat tartes with the dough and put them on a baking tray. Let rise for 15 min.

Mix the crème and sugar together and pour on both tartes, then top with some butter slices and bake the tartes for about 15 minutes.

Enjoy with some fine Beaujolais wine, preferably chilled.