Beaujonomie at the Table: Gathering Around Birds and Beaujolais

For many Americans, a fresh, lighthearted kind of Beaujolais and a certain annual turkey feast have become inextricably linked. And that’s just fine: Celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday together is the essence of “Beaujonomie,” a regional grassroots movement highlighting the vital role that a wine like Beaujolais can play in our lives — namely, helping us to mark the passing seasons, jumpstart moments of celebration, and welcome friends at the table.

In a way, that’s exactly why there’s no reason to limit ourselves to pairing Beaujolais with turkey. The full spectrum of the 12 Beaujolais appellations, from fruity and delicately floral to heftier terroir-driven bottlings, offers worthy pairings for all sorts of birds. Think: chicken, duck, even game birds, prepared in all kinds of ways, throughout the year.

Not so much to prove our theory as to straight-up enjoy it (remember Beaujonomie?) we asked three chefs to share some of their most convivial recipes and Beaujolais pairings, showcasing the potential of the region to foster Beaujonomie from table to table.

While all red wine from Beaujolais is made from Gamay, the region ably produces wines that are amenable to drinking instantly or aging. Beaujolais also has rosé and Chardonnay-based whites, rarer finds that are worth the hunt. Whatever color you choose, Beaujolais from any of the region’s 12 appellations is nimble and almost always flexible when it comes to aging: You can enjoy them young or put them aside for a certain duration as the complexity in the bottle unwinds and blooms. Beaujolais AOC is the larger, “umbrella” appellation, with Beaujolais-Villages AOC bottlings from a smaller subsection (mostly in the northern part of the region). Then comes Cru Beaujolais, singular representations of the 10 distinct, designated areas (crus) within another subsection of the region. Each cru is classified as its own AOC. Many of these bottles can age for over a decade, and some are just as happy to be drunk fresh, full of lively fruity and florals.

Indeed, the unique character of the 12 Beaujolais appellations (within which there are 10 Beaujolais crus) means that there’s always a Beaujolais to suit your dinner needs. For instance, chef Joe Krywucki of Baltimore’s newly opened Bushel and a Peck likes to serve a sublimely homey buttermilk-brined roast chicken with the Moulin-à-Vent “Dernier Souffle” from producer Richard Rottiers. Moulin-à-Vent sits on granite-heavy soil, which makes for structured wines with impressively concentrated fruit flavors. “The lovely bright red fruit and lively acidity keeps things fresh with the richness of the chicken,” explains Krywucki.

But there’s something else at work in this pairing. “The dish itself is an emotional one for many,” says Krywucki. “What’s more comforting than a whole roasted chicken? To be able to carve it at the table and share it among friends with a fabulous bottle of cru Beaujolais, there’s really nothing else that brings us so much joy and reminds us what’s really important in life.” Beaujolais is able to step in to an emotional (and nostalgic) dish and provide a pairing that’s at once familiar and impressive — giving the moment the warmth and grandeur of Beaujonomie.

Similarly, it’s the emotion of the fall season that inspires chef Price’s pairing of Beaujolais and spiced duck breast. “In New York City, fall marks a time when everyone returns, the weather is perfect, and the streets are full of life and action,” he explains. “As a restaurant that focuses on local and seasonal ingredients, we honor our farmers, purveyors, and winemakers throughout the year and the traditions and culture of Beaujolais truly inspire this.”

He likes the duck with a slightly richer, more fall-appropriate Beaujolais from the Juliénas cru, the 2018 Yohan Lardy “Les Michelons” Moulin-à-Vent. “Beaujolais, although is quite juicy, can also have its own slight earthy quality, which matches the gaminess of the duck. Rich and light at the same time. Succulent without being too fatty; bold, and still elegant.”

Beyond approaching cooking purely as a means of making something delicious, chef Amauri Bey of St. Louis aspires to satisfy in a bigger way: “My food brings a feeling of love and happiness that is always shared,” says Bey. He’s looking to bring “enjoyment amongst a multitude of people,” through accessibility of flavor and variety. He takes a Chinese delivery staple, chicken and broccoli lo mein and elevates it by highlighting each of the components: fragrant ginger and garlic, juicy chicken, umami-packed oyster sauce, and shiitake mushrooms. With this, he pairs the 2018 Domaine Jean-Claude Lapalu Brouilly “Cuvée des Fous.” “While my food can bring peace to a room, it can be the centerpiece of conversation,” he says. “It’s the life of the party. Just like the wine!”

All you have to do is provide the company.

Buttermilk-Brined Roasted Chicken with Parmesan and Basil Potatoes and Sautéed Kale

From: Joe Krywucki of Bushel and a Peck, Baltimore
Pair with: 2013 Richard Rottiers “Dernier Souffle” Moulin-à-Vent

Why it works: “Mary’s Land Farm is a beautiful organic farm just down the street from my restaurant; it’s where I get my pastured-raised chicken. Pasture-raised chicken meat tends to be higher in iron and higher in Omega 3s,” says Krywucki. An intensely flavorful chicken requires an intensely flavorful wine. “Moulin-à-Vent is the most full-bodied cru in Beaujolais. This has beautiful, deep, concentrated flavors of blackberry, Bing cherry, and orange zest.”

Spiced Long Island Duck Breast

From: Mikey Price of Market Table, NYC
Pair with: 2018 Yohan Lardy “Les Michelons” Moulin-à-Vent

Why it works: “Duck pairs beautifully with light juicy red wine,” says Price. “Beaujolais complements, but doesn’t overpower the delicate taste of the meat. I add pomegranates to give a little acid and highlight the sweetness and pickled onions for a little acid to balance out the richness from the duck.”

Composed Chicken and Broccoli Lo Mein

From: Amauri Bey, previously of Greek House Chefs, St. Louis
Pair with: 2018 Jean-Claude Lapalu “Cuvée des Fous” Brouilly

Why it works: “This dish has a wide variety of flavors — brown sugar, garlic, ginger, scallions, sriracha, soy, and sweet Thai chili sauce — that are all fused together to create a marinade,” says Bey. “I chose the 2016 Dominique Piron Saint-Amour or the Domaine Jean-Claude Lapalu Brouilly ‘Cuvee des Fous’ 2018 because they have fresh red fruit notes, and its hints of pepper and paprika.”

This article is sponsored by Beaujolais.