Chassignol is without doubt one of the truly brilliant single site expressions in Beaujolais, an 80-100 year-old vineyard planted on a mix of clay and manganese. It always displays aromas of roses reminiscent of some very fine vineyards from Côte de Nuits, with focused raspberry and cherry fruit. Bright, precise and intensely flavoured ending with finesse and purity, this is nothing short of spectacular.
DOMAINE THILLARDON, Paul-Henri et Charles Thillardon, Chénas
‘Contemporary Beaujolais is rife with opportunity - overlooked terroirs, abandoned vines, appellations ripe for rehabilitation. But few young vignerons have committed to such ambitious challenges as Paul-Henri and Charles Thillardon, who have positioned themselves as the future of Beaujolais' smallest, sleepiest cru, Chénas.
After graduating with a BTS viti-oeno from the Lycée Bel-Air, Paul-Henri says his initial, outmoded goal was to make all ten crus. Much has changed since he founded the domaine in 2008. "We even used selected yeast, our first year," he says. "Because I didn't know how to make natural wine, I'd never seen it in my life, and I'd never drunk it."
Then in 2009 he met Fleurie winemakerJean-Louis Dutraive, a lynchpin of the Fleurie natural winemaking scene who himself had just attained organic certification for his own domaine. "He was the most open," says Paul-Henri, citing Dutraive as introducing him to the aesthetics of natural Beaujolais.
Gradually, as his domaine has grown to its present 12ha, Paul-Henri's winemaking has aligned with those of his mentors. 2015 is the first year he's aimed for long, cool semi-carbonic macerations, refrigerating the harvest for the first time, and vinifying entirely whole-cluster.
The Thillardon brothers hail from Frontenas, in the south of Beaujolais, where their father still grows vines. Paul-Henri founded the domaine in 2008, with his brother Charles, who formerly raised cows, joining him officially in 2014.’
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(Their sister Aude and third brother Baptiste are now also working in the Domaine.)