It’s hard to believe ten years have gone by since I first met Charly Thévenet. It was January 2008, in Marcel Lapierre’s harvest room, where Marcel would provide food and drink for his workers in season. That day, instead of harvest hands, the room was full of twenty or so distributor clients of ours we were taking around France to taste new releases from our producers. Per our routine, Marcel would invite Jean Foillard, Guy Breton, and Jean-Paul Thévenet over, too, and all would arrive with arms full of Morgon, and we would work our way through the wines (if you can call it work). This time, Jean-Paul came by with not only wine but also his young son, Charly, who had just returned from internships in Italy and the Loire Valley. We tasted through the great Morgons of the entire gang, and as usual we were awed that these guys could make Beaujolais so damn good, and of course we sold every last bottle they could offer us.
As we were getting ready to leave, I could see Jean-Paul pushing his son toward the group, bottle in hand, as Charly seemed to sheepishly look for an escape. It must have been intimidating to face a group of twenty serious clients who had just finished tasting some of the best wines the planet has to offer, but once he reached the front and held up an unlabeled bottle of wine, there was no turning back. He nervously told us that a few months prior he had purchased some very old vines in neighboring Régnié and had just produced his first wine. He had pulled a sample, if anyone wished to taste. Within seconds, all empty glasses were raised, and he worked his way around the room pouring. The wine was only four months old, an unfinished sample from a concrete tank with no name and no label, but none of that mattered. It was deep, it was ferrous, it was red licorice, it was bright, and it was beautiful. As he poured the wine and clients took a sniff, orders were quickly called out and cases reserved, since there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of it to go around. By the time Charly was pouring the last glass, his entire vintage was sold out (and it has pretty much remained that way ever since). It was a truly remarkable way to welcome the next generation. Charly showed us that he “got it,” understanding what we look for in great Beaujolais. Now, ten years later, he’s still getting it—not fixing anything that isn’t broken, keeping it simple, making one wine each year, making it great, and watching it sell out before starting anew.