Paul-Henri Thillardon Chenas Les Vibrations 2018
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Chenas is not far from Moulin-a-Vent, and for that reason the wines can show much of the same muscle. Paul-Henri brings you this concentration, but knows where the balance point is for elegance. They call it 'grown-up wine.'
In 2008, at the age of 22, Paul Henri made the important decision to dedicate his work to the cru of Chenas, rather than in neighboring and better-known Moulin-a-Vent which usurps much of the notoriety of Chenas. Tilting at windmills, some say.
Then in 2010, he planted an acre of vines on a beautiful southeast facing parcel in Chiroubles, and another parcel of Viognier grapes, a variety that is not authorized in the Beaujolais rules. By early 2011, the domain covered 5.7 hectares (13.7 acres) with his Chanas vines an average of 40 years old.
As with many of the new generation, Thillardon is dedicated to organics and has taken to using horses instead of tractors in the vineyard à la Pontet-Canet. The vineyard is biodynamically farmed - Vines are only treated with herbs and are ploughed by horse. The wines are made with indigenous yeasts and see no sulfur until bottling. Vinification is Burgundian - Grapes are de-stemmed before fermentation. Long fermentation and maceration.
The bucolic region often identified as the southern part of Burgundy, Beaujolais actually doesn’t have a whole lot in common with the rest of the region in terms of climate, soil types and grape varieties. Beaujolais achieves its own identity with variations on style of one grape, Gamay.
Gamay was actually grown throughout all of Burgundy until 1395 when the Duke of Burgundy banished it south, making room for Pinot noir to inhabit all of the “superior” hillsides of Burgundy proper. This was good news for Gamay as it produces a much better wine in the granitic soils of Beaujolais, compared with the limestone escarpments of the Côte d’Or.
Four styles of Beaujolais exist though most is sold under the basic Beaujolais appellation. The simplest, and one that has regrettably given the region a subpar reputation, is Beaujolais Nouveau. This is the wine that is made using carbonic maceration (a quick fermentation that results in sweet aromas) and is released on the third Thursday of November in the same year as harvest. It's meant to drink young and is flirty, fruity and fun. The rest of Beaujolais is where the serious wines are found. Beaujolais-Villages, which must come from the hilly northern part of the region, offer reasonable values with some gems among them. The superior section are the cru vineyards coming from ten distinct communes: St-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Regnié, Brouilly, and Côte de Brouilly. Any cru Beajolais will have its commune name prominent on the label.
Delightfully playful, but also capable of impressive gravitas, Gamay is responsible for juicy, berry-packed wines predominantly from Beaujolais. In Beaujolais, Gamay generally has three classes: Beaujolais Nouveau, a decidedly young, fruit-driven wine, Beaujolais Villages and Cru Beaujolais. The Villages and Crus are highly ranked grape growing communes whose wines are capable of improving with age whereas Nouveau, released two months after harvest, is intended for immediate consumption. Somm Secret—The ten different Crus have their own distinct personalities—Fleurie is delicate and floral, Côte de Brouilly is concentrated and elegant and Morgon is structured and age-worthy.