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Château Thivin - Claude Geoffray

Château Thivin

Zaccharie GeoffrayZaccharie Geoffray

A twelfth-century manuscript mentions a Lady who grants to Humbert III, Lord of Beaujeu, her “forty-man” property: the Clos de Brouilly, which later passed to the Canons of Saint Irénée of Belleville
In the fourteenth century the first part of the manor which was to become known as Château Thivin was built. The date 1383 can still be seen above the door of a small cellar. After the Canons, the Marquis de Vichy owned the property until the Revolution.

Then it was sold as property of the nation to a parliamentary lawyer named Thivind, whose name the château still bears. On 8 June 1877, in a year when the region had been ravaged by frost and phylloxera, my ancestor Zaccharie Geoffray, a farmer from around Villefranche sur Saône, bought the estate at auction, with a little under two hectares of vines. From 1894 his son Claude greatly expanded the estate by purchasing vineyards and houses.

Claude’s son, also named Claude, 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.

Château Thivin welcomed many figures from the worlds of arts and journalism, including the novelist Colette, who describes her visit during the harvest of 1947: “The courtyard rang with the sounds of voices, wheels and heavy-booted footsteps, for the estate’s forty harvest labourers were coming down for their meal, accompanied by their lusty odour of wine. I would gladly have gone with them”.

In 1948 a number of famous journalists and gastronomes including Curnonsky, Clos-Jouve and Henri Monnier from the newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné, to name but a few, founded the “Académie Rabelais”, which met and still meets to this day in the château’s harvest room. As Claude et Yvonne Geoffray had no children, it fell to their nephew Claude, my father, to continue the work they had begun; he became one of the leading figures of Beaujolais. My elders sadly departed young, and in 1987 left the care of Château Thivin to myself and my wife Evelyne (who brought with her another family estate, Le Manoir du Pavé).

glazed fishscale-tile roofsglazed fishscale-tile roofs

In 2007 my son Claude-Edouard joined us, having completed an advanced education in viticulture and wine-making at the specialist college of Changins in Switzerland, and having gained work experience on various vineyards in France and abroad.

Thivin is at the very heart of Beaujolais, and has an atmosphere all of its own, as a château on a human scale, with its roofs of glazed fishscale tiles, nestling on the slopes beneath Mont Brouilly, surrounded by vines. The traditional aspect of the château goes hand-in-hand with impeccable winemaking skills and techniques; the process is laid out on various levels, and is designed to work by gravity, for the sake of the grapes and the wine. A beautiful vaulted cellar of blue stone houses the oak “foudres” (casks) in which the wine matures, and an older cellar beneath the château provides the perfect conditions for laying down the wine once bottled.

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