Features Food-friendly Beaujolais ideal for Valentine’s meal By Chuck Furuya Feb. 4, 2015 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. For a change of pace, I thought I’d recommend some Beaujolais for Valentine’s Day this year. Beaujolais is a region in France at the southern tip of Burgundy, home of the gamay noir grape variety. Most people probably aren’t familiar with gamay noir, and most wine aficionados don’t take gamay noir or Beaujolais seriously. This is unfortunate. Good Beaujolais are charming, light, wonderfully food-friendly and absolutely delicious. They’re an ideal style to enjoy slightly chilled and alongside a meal. The gamay noir variety is a descendent of pinot noir, which partially explains gamay’s innate umami and food-friendliness. In addition, many top Beaujolais renditions have moderate extract and alcohol levels that broaden the window of styles and types of food they pair with. The biggest challenge is finding the best offerings. Back in the 1980s I was fortunate to taste eye-opening Beaujolais from nine boutique producers. Remarkably, after all I’ve learned and tasted since then, my list hasn’t changed. Here are four of those producers. Consider one of these suggestions to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a loved one. » 2012 Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais (about $16 a bottle): This was one of the first artisan Beaujolais estates I fell in love with. Here they deftly produce wines that are unpretentious and full of life, charm and deliciousness. This estate has been operating continuously for more than 500 years, with no use of chemical or synthetic fertilizers or herbicides in the vineyards. The wines are wild-yeast fermented, with minimal, if any, sulfur use, and no sugar or gas added. They are typically bottled unfiltered and unfined. This is a pure, natural approach to wine with a product made for the dinner table.» 2013 Domaine Chignard Fleurie "Les Moriers" (about $25): Fleurie is one of the 10 cru (the region’s highest classification) villages of Beaujolais. The Chignard parcel is shaped like an extended finger, surrounded on three sides by the neighboring cru village of Moulin-a-Vent. Some say this special parcel and its unique mix of granitic soils are what make this wine a standout. Insiders say it is the Chignard family’s passionate, dedicated, traditional and sustainable approach to grape growing and winemaking that makes this one of Beaujolais’ finest bottlings. We are currently serving the 2007 at Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas, which is testament to how fascinating, food-friendly and tasty this estate’s wines can be, especially at 7 years of age. » 2013 Chateau Thivin Cote de Brouilly (about $26): Amid the rolling hills of Brouilly, a 2,000-foot volcanic mastiff abruptly juts skyward. The sight reminds me of Koko Head and the otherwise flat surrounding area of Hawaii Kai. This is a cru — Cote de Brouilly — with a unique black-blue granitic rock/soil, cool temperatures and an ever gusting, pounding wind. The estate dates back to the 15th century and is still world-renowned for its intriguing, dark, masculine and frisky cru Beaujolais. I suggest pairing this iconic bottling with heavy or complex dishes. » 2013 Lapierre "Raisins Gaulois" (about $18): Technically this wine is not a Beaujolais because of a curious glitch in French wine laws. But I still recommend it for its sensational value, and here’s why: This offering is mostly made from quality grapes from the cru village of Morgon, with top Beaujolais grapes blended in. Furthermore, it is the handiwork of the Marcel Lapierre family, one of the region’s most iconic estates. It was Marcel Lapierre who revolutionized the concept of what top-quality Beaujolais could be, not by innovation, but instead by a "back to basics," comprehensive, uber-sustainable approach to grape growing and winemaking. My wife, Cheryle, and I were fortunate to make a visit there before Lapierre’s untimely death just after the 2010 harvest. His Cru Morgon wine brought him international acclaim and a superstar status, but it is the "Raisins Gaulois" bottling that he would serve at his dinner table. Well worth seeking out! Chuck Furuya is a master sommelier and a partner in the DK Restaurants group. Follow his blog at chuckfuruya.com. Previous Story Da Kine Next Story 'Detritus from the impact zone'