Chénas Les Vibrations
Domaine Thillardon is Paul-Henri and Charles Thillardon, who together produce some of the most captivating, distinct, and detailed wines of the Beaujolais. The Domaine is a patchwork of land- some rented, some owned, and some lived on, in the sleeper hit cru of the Beaujolais, Chénas. The neighboring cru, Moulin-a-Vent, tends to steal the spotlight from Chénas, but sleeping on this spot would be a mistake. It’s a small and striking place, deserving of the dedicated work put in by Paul-Henri and Charles.
They come from a wine background – their father is a part of a cooperative in Frontenas, in the south Beaujolais – but Paul Henri’s determination to dig into the natural wine world is what has set Domaine Thillardon apart. Paul-Henri got his start in 2008 with 3 ha of vines, fresh out of oenology school and hungry for more knowledge. He immersed himself in the natural winemaking scene in nearby Fleurie thanks to Jean-Louis Dutraive, a standard-setter for organic, natural, terroir-driven Beaujolais wine, and a master of carbonic maceration. Paul-Henri took note, and his winemaking evolved. He abandoned the traditional Burgundian style winemaking in Chénas, instead embracing whole cluster, cool carbonic maceration, the method he’s maintained since 2015. Thillardon uses only native yeasts, and minimal sulfur at bottling. Farming is organic and heading towards fully biodynamic.
It’s admirable and inspiring work by Domaine Thillardon, creating this patchwork of land, and they represent Chénas well. Thillardon clearly takes pride in their quiet cru, and these bottles taking their names from their respective parcels demands attention. From one cuvee to another, the bottles are subtle, nuanced, enchanting to look at in the glass and even more nicer to drink.