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The most famous of the Beaujolais villages in France is Moulin à Vent, named after the windmill in its midst. It produces the most complex of the region’s wines, some of which can live for decades. Négociant Maison Louis Jadot is one of the best Burgundy houses and 2005 was a terrific vintage, only now ready for drinking. Put the two together in the Château des Jacques and you get a wine that tastes more like a good red Burgundy than Beaujolais. Seductive and brooding, serious rather than flirtatious, it’s for drinking with a seared steak or slow-cooked beef daube à la Julia Child.
The third Thursday of November marks the release of the deliciously frivolous 2009 Beaujolais Nouveau, but the cool damp days toward the end of the year are also a good time to explore the more serious wines of the region. Fourteenth-generation winemaker Dominique Piron specializes in Beaujolais crus, wines from the 10 best villages in the hills north of Lyon. Régnié is one of them and Piron’s Domaine de la Chanaise 2005 has lots of juicy raspberry fruit with a fair bit of structure to balance it. A standout with any kind of bistro food like sausages and lentils or a simple roast chicken.
Originally from the U.K., Nigel Springthorpe made his first Canadian foray at the Alibi Room in Gastown (157 Alexander St., 604-623-3383. Alibi.ca), where he worked until quietly taking over the reins three years ago. His personal touch has made Alibi a favourite in local microbrew circles. Twenty-five taps and three cask ales represent different breweries and styles; for cold weather Springthorpe suggests “winter warmers,” spiced ales to drive out the chill, like the Old Puddin’ Head Ale—dark, spicy, and strong, from “green” brewer Crannog. Another winter favourite: Swans Legacy Ale, aged a year on oak and Spanish orange peel. To seek out new flavours he browses Main Street’s Brewery Creek cold beer and wine store—a must-try is Old Rasputin, a near-perfect Russian Imperial stout with chocolate, coffee, and licorice notes.—Darcy Smith