Chenas Chassignol 2015, Domaine Thillardon
A new arrival on our list is the Thillardon's iconic Chenas Chassignol which is now regarded as one of Beaujolais most significant wines and would be classed as a Grand Cru if there ever was such a thing! It comes from a granite and quartz covered, perilously steep hillside, behind the house and cellars. This is a massive intense and rich wine.
At just over 30 years old, Paul-Henri Thillardon is the youngest vigneron-winemaker that we deal with. From a Beaujolais family, who have grown grapes in the Pierres Dorees for over a century, Paul-Henri and his brother, Charles, created the domaine, out of nothing, in 2008. They started out with 2.30 ha. in the Blemonts lieu-dit and then, in 2009, added a further couple of hectares (in metayage) at Chateau des Boccards, situated on the more granitic soils of Les Deschamps. Conversely, les Blemonts, (where les Carrieres is sourced) has a terroir that has a high level of schist, with veins of quartz and manganese. The 45 year-old vines are planted on a south-facing slope in an old quarry (carrieres) and have been certified organic since 2007. Paul-Henri uses biodynamic treatments on his vines and ploughs using a Trait Comtois (a traditional plough-horse) thereby avoiding soil compaction through the use of tractors and also improving the soils aeration.
Paul-Henri has gradually been building himself a reputation as being somewhat of an iconic wine-maker and grower amongst the new dynamic younger generation, who are helping to reinvigorate the Beaujolais region. At the end of 2012, he and Charles bought the run down buildings of the once famous Domaine de Chassignol, situated in les Brureaux, along with five hectares of stunning vineyards on the vertiginous hillsides behind the property. Although needing some restoration, these are some of the best-sited vineyards in the Chenas appellation. This is a man on a mission, with a passion and motivation that has obviously helped persuade his bank manager to come up with the necessary loan! The two brothers have now also renovated the old cellars and cuvage.
Vinification leans towards the Burgundian style, with 100% de-stemming and a long, low-extractive fermentation which results in racy, taught and precise wines with intense fruitiness and nano-tannins. Paul-Henri keeps life in his cellar as simple as possible, allowing his wines to evolve as naturally as possible. He uses almost no sulphites, just a tiny little dose prior to bottling. Elevage is in old concrete vats and les Carrieres is bottled non-filtered, normally just after Easter following the harvest. It is a wine that can be broached fairly early in its life but can develop well, in good vintages for 3-4 years. The les Boccards cuvee comes from vineyards with a high quartz content and where the vines are over 60 years? old, resulting in a wine of even greater intensity and with an unmistakable silky smoothness.
Drink Now or Keep
Beef, Game, Cheese