2019 Jean-Paul & Charly Thevenet, Morgon “Vieilles Vignes” Cru Beaujolais, France.
The 2019 Thevenet Old Vine Morgon is vibrant and zingy with loads of natural acidity, mineral notes and subtle fruit density, highlight the lively personality of the vintage that reminds me of 2010 and 2014, or a more classic year, but as it opens it turns on the charm and gets much more rounded and exciting with dark fruits bursting from the glass with air. Thevenet just makes one wine and only 2,000 cases per year are made, making this a treat, especially with the demand for top notch Gamay these days. The Morgon Vieilles Vignes, which shows a delicate floral note, pecan husk, crushed raspberry and earthy elements on the nose, then reveals zesty currant, plum, strawberry and citrusy fruits on the taut medium bodied palate. The old vine concentration shines especially when you give this wine time to awaken and it gets more entertaining and pretty, losing some of its rustic sharpness with food. There is more of a reserved quality here and a savory edginess that time with resolve, so if you do lack the patience it deserves (like me), I suggest decanting and a leisurely meal to allow all the best comes out here. The Thevenet’s employ long fermentations in cement cuve, with 100% whole clusters, for 15-25 days at low temperatures to allow for longest skin contact possible, delivering depth, extract and firm tannins. Made with all indigenous yeasts, with punch downs and pressing uniquely only after primary fermentation is complete and then it is aged on the lees for about 8 months in used Burgundy barrels. This is pure and raw in style, but the fruit ultimately leads to pleasure here and it is vivid terroir driven example of the Morgon cru.

One of Kermit Lynch’s original Gang of Four, and known as “Paul-Po” among friends, Jean-Paul is a reserved yet fun-loving third generation winemaker who along with his son make some of the best Gamay in the world. This old vine Morgon, the only wine they focus on at this famed Beaujolais estate comes from two parcels, one from 110 year old vines planted, as Kermit Lynch notes, before WWI and another plot that is 45 years old, set on decomposed granite and sandy soils. Thevenet farms this small five-hectare domaine with his son, Charly, who also makes his own fabulous Gamay from the neighboring Grand Cru Régnié, and who has taken over the helm here in recent years. Charly is a rising star with huge charisma and who is staunch advocate of natural wine just like his father, and since 2008 the two have taken the domaine to the next level by adopting all organic and biodynamic viticultural practices here, adding to the quality and intensity to this Morgon bottling. It’s well noted, that In the early 1980s Beaujolais was flooded with mass-produced, over-commercialized wine, destroying the reputation of this once highly regarded region that was once the equal to Burgundy, but the push back came when winemaker and viticultural prophet Jules Chauvet influenced a generation to return to more traditional holistic practices and love of their land. Jean-Paul and three other local vignerons, Marcel Lapierre, Guy Breton, and Jean Foillard, as Lynch famously chronicled, soon took up the torch of this “natural wine” movement, with Kermit dubbing them the Gang of Four, and the rest is history, and Beaujolais has never been better. Of course there are many other great producers here, but you’ll never be a miss when you get a bottle of this wine, with Thevenet’s 2019 being a classic.
($40 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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