The richness and diversity of Lyonnais cuisine is best enjoyed when accompanied with the right wine.
When in Lyon, you can pick up any menu and you’ll find a whole gamut of wines, but the vineyards printed on the bottle can be far from local. From Bordeaux to Languedoc-Roussillon and beyond, French chefs are always on the lookout for new discoveries and surprises. However, chefs in Lyon don’t have to look far. Excellent local wines from places like Burgundy and Beaujolais are right next door.
In Lyon, wine flows as freely as the city’s Saône and Rhône rivers, so sip your way through the hidden gems of the region’s countryside and discover the best it has to offer.
Beaujolais: a staple wine
Beaujolais’ latest vintage, the Beaujolais Nouveau, released mid-November after a typically huge marketing campaign, remains a worldwide phenomenon; 25 million bottles were exported around the globe.
Hidden behind the fanfare is an excellent terroir of rolling hills and village steeples that produces some exceptionally subtle and complex wines—and at a low price, to boot! The combination of quality and reasonable price has made wines from this region, located just to the south of Lyon, a staple at Lyon’s famous bouchons restaurants. The classic Beaujolais wine is made from the Gamay grape and is the perfect complement to the hearty pork dishes popular in this gastronomic capital of France.
Two standard appellations
In a region that produces over 20 million gallons of various types of red wine, it’s hard to say that every bottle from the Beaujolais and Beaujolais-villages appellations is flawless. Still, this carefully curated list of wines is sure not to disappoint.
Cuvée d’Oncin Vieilles Vignes-Jean-Claude et Maryse Arnaud (Beaujolais)
Rich and powerful, with a lingering finish; a wine that elevates any meal.
Domaine du Guéret (Beaujolais)
With a nuanced aromatic palette and a smooth mouthfeel, this wine goes perfectly with traditional cuisine.
Château Talancé- Cuvée Diane de Talancé (Beaujolais)
A silky, ruby-red wine with an intense bouquet that suits any meal.
Domaine de Chizeaux (Beaujolais-villages)
A velvety wine with a delicate aroma; perfect accompaniment to the classic French dish of bavette steak with shallots.
Domaine de Saint-Ennemond (Beaujolais-villages)
Supple and full, with strong fruity notes; pair it with grilled pork or veal.
Château du Souzy (Beaujolais-villages)
This lean, purplish wine with structured tannins marries beautifully with poultry dishes.
10 vineyards to visit
There are about a dozen vineyards, or crus, that form the pride of the Beaujolais region. Keep an eye out for bottles labelled Morgon, Saint-Amour, Brouilly, Côte-de-Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Juliénas, Moulin-à-Vent, or Régnié; the quality of their wines improves every year, and if you keep your eyes peeled, both your curiosity and your thirst will be sated.
Tradition du Bois de la Salle (Saint-Amour)
A full-bodied wine with a lingering finish, suited to accompany winter dishes and stews.
Domaine des Chers (Saint-Amour)
This dark, fruity wine pairs perfectly with poultry.
Domaine des Darrèzes (Saint-Amour)
With a robust bouquet but delicate tannins, this wine is ideal for both red and white meat.
Vignerons de Bully-Quincié (Brouilly)
The product of a very successful co-op, this wine is complex yet elegant, robust yet delicate. It can be paired with everything from charcuteries to braised beef.
Philippe Deschamps-Cuvée Prestige (Brouilly)
Perfectly balanced with fruity notes, this is a wine to be shared with friends on gastronomic adventures.
Domaine du Griffon (Côte-de-brouilly)
This full-bodied, lively wine would best complement grilled white meat.
Château des Ravatys-Cuvée Mathilde Courbe (Côte-de-brouilly)
Intense, with both fruity and mineral notes, and mildly spicy. Enjoy it with poulet à la crème (chicken in cream sauce) or a stuffed guinea fowl.
Château de Durette (Chénas)
Rich and lingering, this candied wine is a delight with a steak entrecote or an omelet with herbs.
Domaines des Pierres (Chénas)
This wine’s rich mouthfeel and complex bouquet would perfectly complement a well-spiced beef tartare.
Domaine Laurent Gauthier-Chatenay Vieilles Vignes (Chiroubles)
A clear, strong red wine with lots of personality; let it age in the cellar before enjoying it with mushrooms or game.
Arnaud Aucoeur – La Chapelle des bois Vieilles Vignes (Fleurie)
A deep, complex wine with a color to match and a well-balanced bouquet. Savor it with pigeon en cocotte (pigeon casserole) or fried chanterelle mushrooms.
Domaine des Chaffangeons-La Madone (Fleurie)
A structured, round wine with notes of brandied black fruit, to be enjoyed with coq au vin, roasted quail, or a simple fricassee.
Franck Juillard-Vieilles Vignes (Juliénas)
Rich and intense, this delicious wine ages beautifully and will satisfy any appetite.
Château de la Bottière (Juliénas)
A chewy, elegant wine that would suit beef with carrots, risotto, or a plate of charcuterie.
Domaine Rochette (Morgon)
Warm and powerful with a touch of spice; would work perfectly with traditional dishes like casserole or pot-au-feu.
Domaine Christophe Lapierre-Vieilles Vignes (Moulin-à-vent)
Concentrated, expressive, and lively, this wine should be enjoyed with pork tenderloin or Bresse chicken.
Domaine des Rosiers (Moulin-à-vent)
With a nuanced aromatic palette and supple tannins, this wine elevates any meal and is the perfect aperitif.
Domaines des Braves (Régnié)
Weighty and full-bodied, supple with a long-lasting finish; this wine is truly enjoyable. Pair it with anything from stir fry to mushrooms to chicken.
Wines from the Coteaux du Lyonnais
Hidden away a few miles from Lyon, the modern Coteaux du Lyonnais are vestiges of what was once a much larger wine-growing region. The city’s expansion pushed the vineyards into a few pockets on a 25-by-18-mile swath of land. These wines are meant to be drunk quickly, and as they are deliciously fruity and endlessly quaffable, this is not hard to do.
A silky and well-balanced red wine perfect for simple meals.
Etienne Descotes et Fils
Lively and clear, this rosé is well-suited for barbecues.
Domaine de la Petite Gallée
Made from organic grapes, this clean Chardonnay has a strong attack.
Today’s guest post is by Frenchman Noël Balen, coauthor with Vanessa Barrot of Minced, Marinated, and Murdered, the first installment of the Gourmet Crime series. When a beloved chef is found murdered, food writer Laure Grenadier and her photographer Paco Alvarez investigate and sink their teeth into this mouth-watering mystery. Set in Lyon, France’s traditional capital of gourmet food, the novel delves deep into the juicy real details of France’s culinary history, mixing local reality and historical fact with fiction and mystery. Balen is a wine aficionado, and also the author of the Winemaker Detective series.
Minced, Marinated, and Murdered will be released February 20 by Le French Book. Anyone who preorders the book before February 20 gets two freebies: Noël and Vanessa’s favorite places to eat in Lyon, along with a series of traditional recipes straight from their kitchen to test with these wines. Go here to find out more: www.lefrenchbook.com/minced-preorder-bonuses-1