Beaujolais, Part 9

Paul-Henri and Charles

Paul-Henri Thillardon started this domaine in Chénas back in 2008, and has built it up piece by piece. They are based in Chessignol and have 4 hectares here, with very old vineyards behind the domaine (80-100 year old vines). This was the first of their vineyards he took to biodynamics, which he started with when he acquired it in 2012. In 2014 Paul-Henri was joined full time by his brother Charles (who is in his early 20s; he began his career with a milk company), and now all their vines are farmed this way. In total they work 12 hectares of vines.

In Chénas, there are sedimentary soils on the left of the river, and granite soils on the right. This granite is very old, because there has never been any glacial erosion.


Their father is a winemaker in a cooperative in the south of Beaujolais. Winemaking here is quite different, though. They cool the grapes down in a reefer and then use whole bunches with no added sulphites. During the maceration, they look at the yeasts under the microscope to check they are good ones. There are no punch downs or pumping overs. Sometimes a little bit of SO2 is added. 'We like natural wine,' says Paul-Henri, 'but we like clean natural wine.' 15-20 mg/ml of SO2 is added before bottling.

The wines are fabulous. My favourite was the remarkable Chenas Chassignol, which is the block behind the property. But other bottlings of Chenas: Blemonts, Boccards and Les Carrieres, are also very fine, supple and elegant. 

They seal their bottles with wax, and they have a machine to make this process a bit less onerous. Wax costs 30 c per bottle, but I think it's worth it. This is about double the cost of a capsule.

Thillardon Chénas Les Carrières 2014 Beaujolais, France
Supple, pure and fine with raspberry and cherry fruit. Supple and fine-grained with some nice texture and smootheness. There's a bit of raspberry grip. 93/100 (05/16) 

Thillardon Chénas Les Carrières 2016 Beaujolais, France
From a rocky part of the cru with silex soils, this is supple, fine and elegant with real focus and purity. Very expressive and fine with a light, elegant texture. 93/100 (04/18)

Thillardon Chénas Les Blémonts 2014 Beaujolais, France
Clay/manganese soils. Very sappy, fine and expressive with clean raspberry and cherry fruit. Lively with good acidity. Grippy and focused with a nice detailed saline edge to the pure fruit.  Has nice fine-grained structure. Paul-Henri thinks the slightly saline finish is directly from the manganese.  93/100 (05/16)

Thillardon Chénas Les Blémonts 2016 Beaujolais, France
From soils rich in clay with manganese. Focused raspberry and cherry fruit with a nice stony, mineral quality. Bright and focused with nice purity and finesse. 94/100 (04/18)

Thillardon Chénas Chassignol 2016 Beaujolais, France
They now have a monopoly of Chassignol, after they bought their neighbour's plot. Quartz and granite soils. Assertive and bright, spicy and quite rich, this is a bold wine, but with vibrant acidity too. A bit of reduction in the background. Really fresh and intense, with a savoury edge. 94/100 (04/18)

Thillardon Chénas Chassignol 2014 Beaujolais, France
The vineyard at the back of the property with granite and quartz soils. Fine, fresh and expressive with a peppery nose and some sappy red fruits. So pretty with lovely bright, sappy, green mineral notes and some bright red fruits. Lovely purity and acidity. 95/100 (05/16)

Thillardon Chénas 'Vibrations' 2014 Beaujolais, France
Very supple and bright with nice raspberry and red cherry fruit. Fresh, juicy and fine with nice precision and a griotte-like character. A pure style. 94/100 (05/16)

Thillardon Chénas 'Vibrations' 2016 Beaujolais, France (magnum)
From very old vines, this is a blend of terroirs. Lively and bright, and has a bit of acid lift, Dense cherry and raspberry fruit, with some density and nice spiciness. This is really vivid. 93/100 (04/18)

Thillardon Moulin-à-Vent 2016 Beaujolais, France
From the part of Moulin bordering Chenas, this is a lighter style of Moulin. Expressive and bright with a bit of acid lift, and nice focus to the cherry and berry fruits. Lively and vital. 92/100 (04/18)

Thillardon Moulin-à-Vent 2014 Beaujolais, France
This is the first vintage. Lively, peperry bright nose with raspberry and red cherry fruit. Powerful, juicy and grippy with nice pepper and spice notes. Vivid and lively with some real grip. 91/100 (05/16)

Thillardon Chénas Chassignol 2015 Beaujolais, France
Even if it is a hot year, Chassignol always seems to keep its focus. This is concentrated and broad, with stony, savoury characters and some grip. Berry and red cherry fruits dominate. Lovely weight and still quite fresh. 93/100 (04/18)


Part 1, Yvon Metras
Part 2, Pierre Cotton
Part 3, Yann Bertrand
Part 4, David Chapel
Part 5, Château Thivin
Part 6, Jean-Marc Burgaud
Part 7, Domaine Marcel Lapierre
Part 8, Jules Desjourneys

Part 9, Thillardon
Part 10, Mee Godard

Wines tasted as indicated

Article published August 2018 
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