Category Archives: Beaujolais

Le Gratin: A Taste of Lyon in NYC

Autumn in New York is shaping up to be an exciting one.  After the past two years of Covid shutdowns and uncertainties, the city is buzzing again and many new restaurants are opening.  Le Gratin Bouchon Lyonnais by Chef Daniel Boulud, inspired by the bistros of Lyon, the chef’s hometown, is one that I visited the other day.

Le Gratin is located in the Beekman Hotel across from City Hall.  The space was formerly occupied by  Keith Mc Nally’s Augustine and the beautiful Parisian decor remains the same.  A group of French speakers were seated nearby and Edith Piaf was singing La Vie en Rose.  It was a little taste of France in New York.


The crisp bread was a French pain epi, named for its resemblance to a wheat stalk.  It was served with good butter swirled with crystals of sea salt.:

IMG_8111Assiette De Charcuterie – We started with a shared plate of Terrines, Saucisson and Parisian Ham served with coarse mustard, pickled vegetables and a salad of celery root.

IMG_8114Quenelle De Brochet Au Gratin — A mousse-like pike dumpling baked in a rich sauce of Gruyère cheese with Mushroom Bèchamel. 

The wine list has more than 100 wines with a special focus on the wines around Lyon, including Beaujolais, Maconnais, Cöte de Vienne and Collines Rhödaniennes. There is a $50 BYOB charge.

IMG_8115I couldn’t resist trying an order of pommes frites — French fries.

IMG_8117Mashed Potatoes, creamy and full of potato flavor accompanied my main dish.

IMG_8113Foie de Veau a la Moutarde — Calf’s Liver with Mustard Sauce was cooked perfectly.

IMG_8109Beaujolais “Saint-Amour” 2015 Domaine De Fa 100% Gamay from the single Vineyard Cötes de Besset at 400 meters one of the highest altitude sited in Saine-Amour. The vines are 40 years old and the soil is crushed granite, sand and big chunks of granite. Whole cluster fermentation takes place with a semi-carbonic maceration. The wine is ages in 1 -3 year old foudre. This is a  wine with hints of raspberries, cherries, a note of blueberries and a touch of rose petals. It was a delight to drink and a perfect combination with the food.

IMG_8118Blueberry Tart with Blueberry Ice Cream was a sweet finish.

Le Gratin 

5 Beekman Street NYC in The Beekman Hotel


Open for Lunch and Dinner


Filed under Beaujolais, La Gratin

Tom Maresca on Beaujolais Crus for Summer

Some Fine Beaujolais Crus, Including Drouhin’s New Ones

Tom’s Wine Line

Nobody needs to be told that deep summer is Beaujolais weather. I’ve been enjoying some old favorites for two months now, and I’ve also had the pleasure of discovering Drouhin’s new selection of three excellent Beaujolais crus, a Brouilly, a Fleurie, and a Morgon.

For me, the cru wines of Beaujolais are the quintessence of Beaujolais. Call me a snob (I probably am), but I never drink Beaujolais Nouveau: When I want candy, I will walk over to Li-Lac Chocolates and get some good stuff, thank you. And I only occasionally drink simple Beaujolais, from the larger zone that surrounds the heartland of the 10 crus. More often, I opt for a Beaujolais Villages, a smaller, better zone, and then usually from a producer I know and respect, such as Roland Pignard. But most often, my Beaujolais of choice comes from one of the named and quite distinctive crus – Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Régnié, and Saint Amour.

beaujolais map

There are many excellent producers in these appellations, some quite small, some quite sizable. Probably the best known in this country – and certainly the most widely available – is Georges Duboeuf, who produces Beaujolais in every category from the simplest to the most rarefied. Obviously, he is a big producer, and a pretty good one, though I usually find his wines ho-hum: They just taste too industrial to me, too made-to-a-formula.

Among the big producers, I think Jadot does a better job: I like particularly its well-structured Château des Jacques Moulin-à-Vent. Indeed, I have strong memories of visiting this cru years ago, when the iconic windmill had just been restored and was set to turn again for the first time in many decades. Jadot, I believe, was a major supporter of the restoration, and most Beaujolais old-timers saw the event as a kind of rebirth for the whole zone. It may be just post hoc, but in fact the wines of all the Beaujolais crus have been steadily improving ever since.


Moulin-a-Vent is popularly supposed to be the longest-aging Beaujolais, and it is certainly true that in a good vintage it will age beautifully for sometimes up to 20 years – but so will Morgon and Chénas, and I’ve tasted (admittedly ideally stored) 20- and 30-year-old bottles from several other crus that drank beautifully, with an almost Burgundian grace. But ageworthiness is only an added attraction of a good Beaujolais: What really counts in all the crus are their youthful charm and exuberance, their lightness of touch and sheer refreshing enjoyability.

The bottles I like best almost always come from smaller growers who cultivate very particular terroirs and microclimates. They won’t all be available everywhere, but they are worth the trouble of seeking out. Just because a wine offers light and pleasurable warm-weather drinking doesn’t mean it has to be anything less than a real and interesting wine. Some really fine ones include Jean-Paul Brun’s Terres Dorées Côte de Brouilly, Julien Guillot’s Ultimatum Climat Chénas, and Coudert’s Clos de la Roillette Fleurie.

I have made no secret of my admiration of the house of Drouhin’s fine Burgundies, so I was more than a little interested to find that three Beaujolais crus have been added to its portfolio. The Brouilly, Fleurie, and Morgon are all grown and vinified in the Domaine des Hospices de Belleville properties – 34 acres in all – under an exclusive partnership agreement that gives the Hospice the advantage of Drouhin’s viticultural know-how and distribution while still retaining the concentration of the small grower’s familiarity with the vineyards and its commitment to them. I tasted three samples – all 2014 vintage – and found each classically true to its appellation.


The Brouilly smelled of cherries and blackberries and tasted lightly of strawberry. It was characteristically dry and acidic, even a touch austere, with a long spice and leather finish – thoroughly enjoyable.

The Fleurie, a slightly bigger wine, showed scents of blackberry, earth, and black pepper. It was rounder in the mouth and less obviously acid, with dark berry flavors up front and a berry/pepper finish. Again, completely enjoyable, and a seemingly fine companion for any summer meal.

The Morgon, finally, was the biggest and most structured of the three, with an earthy, almost meaty nose with undertones of tar and bramble, an almost zinfandelish character (top quality zinfandel, to be sure). In the mouth, it was completely dry and sapid, rich with notes of blackberry, bramble, and earth, and with a long berry finish. Because of flavors like that, Morgon has always been one of my favorite Beaujolais crus, and this example instantly moved to the top of my short list.

All three will probably hold well, with no loss of youthful charm or vigor, for three to five years before any tastes of maturity set in – so, while these Beaujolais don’t need cellaring, you don’t have to fear putting a few of them away in a quiet corner for future enjoyment. If the stories I’ve heard about the horrific hailstorms in Fleurie this spring are half true, that may not be a bad idea.

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Filed under Beaujolais, Tom Maresca, Uncategorized