This estate is today widely regarded as one of the best and most consistently reliable estates in the Beaujolais. Claude Geoffray makes a superb range of Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly wines together with a Beaujolais Blanc, a Beaujolais Villages and a Rosé. The Côte de Brouilly wines are harvested by terroir with specific parcels of vines yielding quite different results.
Marie-Therese Chappaz' fantastic wines
Motivated by a long family-business tradition in the drinks industry, Guido Brivio set out at the beginning to target restaurants and speciality wine shops with high quality Swiss wines.
""The canton of Ticino has been producing Merlot here for 100 years. About 90% of the grapes grown here are Merlot, grown with an Italian touch, and we want to concentrate on becoming a specialist on Merlot. The soil here is ideal for that type of grape. We are lucky because Merlot is recognised internationally and much easier to sell than a Fendant.
"In the canton of Ticino, from north to south, there are fantastic soil conditions for Merlot. Merlot is a great grape. You can make tons of different styles of wine, rosé, white, dry white, blend it with Cabernet, make it red and fruity and light, or make a big heavy red for aging. Our dry white Merlot is very popular.
"In the south, where we are, the soil is mainly clay. This produces a tobacco smell, spicy, Cuban cigar and contributes to a nice elegant Merlot.
"The winery has been completely renovated with the adoption of the most advanced wine-making technology and we are gradually replacing all of the wine-making machinery. Currently, the winery can process up to 300,000 kilos of grapes through the use of high-tech systems.
"To obtain the best grapes in Ticino, closer personal contacts were established with the region's wine-growers and new vineyards were planted in accordance with the most recent wine-growing methods. They produce grapes of the highest quality, among the best that this territory can offer.
"The aging of the wines is in French oak barrels in our centuries-old cellars dug deep into the rock at the base of Monte Generoso. They were built to season cheese, salami and to mature wine. Also for those who built them to party with their friends.
"There is natural aeration through holes dug in the rock to channel a flow of cool air into the cellars. When it rains the water pushes out fresh air on this Swiss side. This produces the ideal atmospheric conditions for making wine. The perfect level of humidity is also maintained naturally that way.
""We decided six years ago that the best indication of the quality and demand for our wines was from the market not from competition. My personal opinion is there are too many international competitions. There are Gold medals everywhere. What is the meaning of 50 Gold medals from the same competition? There is supposed to be one Gold, one Silver and one Bronze. It is confusing for people when they see so many medals. Having so many medals and competitions lacks value.
"Our focus is to promote our wines on the ground, meeting people and letting them taste. The feedback we receive from the market is real and valuable. It is important to us that people buy and talk about our wines."
The estate is bathed in history. Early manuscripts from the 12th century refer to a "40-man" estate and to the "Clos de Brouilly" being owned by Humbert 3rd, the Lord of Beaujeu. The main château building dates from the 14th century and the date 1383 can still be seen above the door of a small cellar.
The name "Thivin" derives from M. Thivind, a Parliamentary lawyer who owned the estate in the wake of the French revolution. Claude Geoffray's ancestor Zaccharie, a farmer near Villefranche sur Saône, bought the estate in 1877 when Château Thivin had a little less than 2 hectares of vines. From 1894 his son Claude greatly enlarged the estate by buying vines and houses.
Claude's son, also named Claude (it runs in the family!), father of today's owner, took over the estate on his return from the Great War. He countered the slump of the 1930's with the creation of the Côte de Brouilly appellation. He and his wife Yvonne worked tirelessly to build up the quality and reputation of Côte de Brouilly and of Beaujolais as a whole, founding the 'Maison des Beaujolais' in 1953.
Thivin has an atmosphere all of its own, both as a family home with its roofs of glazed fishscale tiles, nestled on the lower slopes of the Mont Brouilly and surrounded by vines. A producer of some of the best wines in this part of the Beaujolais where tradition and impeccable winemaking skills go hand in hand.
A beautiful blue stone vaulted cellar houses the oak casks (foudres) in which the wine matures while an older cellar beneath the château provides the perfect conditions for laying down the wine once bottled. Manoir du Pavé, on the eastern side of the Mont Brouilly in the village of St. Lager, is a recent addition to the estate through marriage.
Thank you for following up. I have been very happy with the wines so far. There were some I did not like, but this was a matter of taste, rather than wine quality. I never knew much about Austrian wines before and I ordered some just to try them, but have been really impressed and have some new favourites like Zweigelt and Weissburgunder. I had Pinot Bianco before, but have never found it notable, while the Weissburgunder was amazing. I liked the Austrian Riesling, even though it was cheaper than relevant German wine and the Julienas Gamay was so nice. Overall I have been very happy quality and value and will order again.