Château Thivin is the perfect starting point for a tour of Beaujolais. This historic fourteenth-century château was purchased by Zaccharie Geoffray in 1877, and since then, the estate and its winemaking practices have been passed down through the six generations of his descendants. Drawing on vinification practices of the nineteenth century, the entire production is gravity fed, and the reds are all raised in large, old wooden foudres. The blue volcanic terroir of Côte de Brouilly marks this great cru with a powerful minerality, supported by a deep garnet color and aromas of cherries, violets, and clove. For more than one hundred vintages, Château Thivin has set the benchmark for Côte de Brouilly.
It isn’t every day that one can team up with the talented Jean Foillard and create a new wine. I think the last straw was when one of our clients shipped their Nouveau, the one Jean had rushed through vinification, late. “Why not let me take my time with the vinification and label it as Beaujolais rather than Nouveau if it doesn’t have to be to the USA by the third Thursday in November?” Recognizing the good sense in that was pretty easy. As the idea took form, Jean went looking for other sources of fruit to complement his personal holdings. Naturally, his first and last stops were in the steep, granite hillsides of Beaujolais-Villages, skirting the crus. His inspiration also led him to ink long-term deals with the landholders so that he could work the land himself and manage everything A–Z, eventually owning it all. This 2017 is just his second bottling of Beaujolais-Villages and it is classic Foillard: smooth and seductive, with rose petals, red cherry, and a granite crunch to remind you of the noblesse of these slopes. Featuring vines from the communes of Lancié, Saint-Amour, Saint-Jean-d’Ardières, Perréon, and Régnié-Durette, this is the real Beaujolais-Villages, further set apart from simpler Beaujolais by the touch of a master vigneron.
Here is the wine that will carry Beaujolais into the future. Charly Thévenet, son of legendary “Gang of Four” Morgon producer Jean-Paul Thévenet, is doing everything right in creating his wine from old vines in Régnié. Tasting Charly’s sole bottling makes it clear that he inherited his father’s obsession for terroir and strives to bring forward every nuance of the vineyard. With an aroma of red fruit and roses, the palate exhibits that same fruit framed beautifully by fine tannin.
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