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Jean-Paul Thevenet Morgon VV 2010

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“Numerous small producers, focused squarely on quality, have seized the initiative in the region, setting a template for success in Beaujolais. In the process, they have not only revived the reputation of Beaujolais for exuberant, spirited wines, but have also won the region new respect for complexity and even age-worthiness.

“...Jean-Paul maintains a low profile. Producing only 2,000 cases per year, he simply focuses on creating the best wines possible, and we are always eager to buy as many cases as he can spare!”
— Kermit Lynch

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There is no hard-and-fast definition unfortunately.

The notion of what is "old" varies from region to region. In some new world producing regions any vines which are double-digit in age can be considered "old". In France, that is probably laughable. In Burgundy, it is a commonly accepted that mature vines are closer to 30-years of age. Approaching half-a-century old and they would largely be considered as vieilles vignes, the French-speak for "old vines".

In the renaissance region of Beaujolais, just south of Burgundy and northward of the upper ends of the Rhône valley, a few dedicated people are setting the world of fine wines on fire. It is flabbergasting to their peers from other renowned French wine producing regions that in the recent years, it is the "humble" Beaujolais wine who has captivated the hearts and minds of the best restaurants and sommeliers of the world.

Why? one may ask. The logic is very simple actually, too basic in fact. Consider this. If you have to pay only a quarter of the price — or in many instances far less than that — of these other rarified wines, and get the same level of quality, but you'd still get to revel in the same sense of esotericism, hyper-artisanality and enjoy a wine that tastes instantly delicious yet never fail to engage as they evolve in the glass with increasing layers and dimensions: wouldn't you want to drink them? This is precisely the case for Beaujolais, and in particular Cru Beaujolais, the ten small appellations in this region which are the equivalent of Grand Crus in Burgundy.

The Cru of Morgon in the upper part of Beaujolais has dominated more mindshare than other Crus this past decade or so, no less thanks to the genius and convincing results by the so-called Morgon Gang of Four. There are no funny tricks by these cult leaders here: organic/biodynamic viticulture, naturally occuring low yields due to old vines, ruthless selection at harvest time, natural-yeast fermentation, used-oak barrels as vessels of elevage and bottling without fining nor filtration with just a negligible amount of sulphur in order for it to be safely transported outside of France. These are natural wines through and through with only one mission: express the qualities of its terroir with brutal honesty and unparalleled intensity.

Jean-Paul THEVENETJean-Paul Thévenet (or Paul-Po, as he is affectionately referred to by his close friends, pictured right), together with Jean Foillard and the late Marcel Lapierre, are Natural Beaujolais ring-leaders. He is an inspiration to the new generation of vignerons in their region. Thévenet is admired, idolised even, by his peers across France, and is a beacon of inspiration to the best artisan growers across the world. But there is one small "problem": his wines, particularly his top Vieilles Vignes cuvée is still too reasonably priced. Thus the quandary: how can one compete with such enormous quality and irreproachable authenticity at such a modest price?

Jean-Paul Thévenet continues to work today in his micro domaine producing minute quantities of wines which are pre-sold every vintage, as well as acting as a guide his son Charly (who produces the showstopping Grain & Granit Régnié starting with vintage 2007) and providing the occasional friendly advice to Matthieu Lapierre whose late father Marcel was a contemporary of Jean-Paul's. Jean-Paul is a Morgon icon, no doubt, and there isn't one person in the inner circles of the ever expanding geeky winedom who does not hold their breath at the mention of his name.

One of the most memorable wines I tasted in my trip to Burgundy end of last year incidentally was not even a Burgundy, but a 2009 Morgon Vieilles Vignes from Jean-Paul Thévenet. It was shared with a group of hardcore Burgundy freaks alongside bottles of Roumier Bonnes-Mares and DRC La Tâche, amongst other greats, and still this wine more than held its own, instantly inciting enthused inquiries about its pedigree by these helpless Burgundy fanatics who now seemed to have caught a new bug.

The visit to domaine Thévenet earlier this year was a personal highlight, an especially poignant memory indeed especially having just visited some of the best cellars in Côte de Nuits earlier in the week. Not unexpectedly, Jean-Paul's 2010 Morgon "Vieilles Vignes" was as high in quality as his more glamourous 2009, a reassuring proof that the cult of his legend is well attributed and lived up to. The wine displays supreme effortless natural density, speaking unapologetically its terroir character. It is a solid wine that will age and, more importantly, will only become better with age. In the famous spirit of Beaujolais hospitality, he cracked open his 1993 Morgon, a supposedly so-so vintage, and put every doubt to rest that his wines are every bit as ageworthy as the better wines of Burgundy. Still fresh, it has just begun to put on secondary aromas reminiscent of an aged red Burgundy. He mentioned he just drank up the last few bottles of his 1976 which were drinking beautifully and apologised to us there was no longer a bottle for us to taste, alas.

Jean-Paul's wines are notorious for being all pre-sold before they are even bottled. This is where his 2,000-case production may prove to be his only Achilles heel. Fortunately for us, at that time we were in the nick of time to lay hands on his flagship 2010 Morgon Vieilles Vignes, a wine destined to be one of the shiniest stars of the vintage, as were the ones preceding it since the 1980s.

Coming back to the topic of old vines. So how old are the vines behind Jean-Paul's Morgon Vieilles Vignes? A good portion of the grapes that make it into this prestige cuvée is 110-years old, while the others are 45-years old. So yes, the Vieilles Vignes is more than well deserved to be printed on the label. Thévenet's vines are organically and biodynamically cared for.

ARTISAN CELLARS is excited to introduce another legend in the name of JEAN-PAUL THÉVENET, offering today his best and rarest wine no less, adding on to our star studded cast of artisanal Cru Beaujolais. This bottled deliciousness has plenty of reserves in spite of its present expressiveness. A trained palate can immediately discern its sturdy backbone underneath its chewy fleshiness, and be delighted by the gobs of minerality that suffuses in and out of its mouthfeel at the same time. Morgon, after all, is a theoretical cross-breed between Gevrey-Chambertin and Vosne-Romanée in the context of Beaujolais; a wine which in the best examples such as this marries earthy savouriness, opulent spiciness and crystalline bright fruits, and which with extended aging will meld all its constituents into a glorious symphony of flavours.

This is a wine that should be bought by the case, to drink some with gusto, while keeping a few to slumber (if you can even help it). So do not wait until everyone else wakes up to this little secret and take immediate advantage of this offer. The wine is already available ex-cellar Singapore, and orders will be fulfilled on a first-come first-served basis, subject to final availability and written confirmation.

Oh, and did we say that the quantity is limited?

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“...in 2010 we have yet another really good vintage from the Beaujolais region...
...the 2010s are certainly going to continue the development of growing interest among new wine drinkers and faithful, older followers who had recently lost faith in what Beaujolais is capable of producing.”

— Jancis Robinson MW & Chris Piper, JANCISROBINSON.COM

J-P Thevenet Morgon VV 20102010 JEAN-PAUL THÉVENET Morgon “Vieilles Vignes”
S$50 / 750 ml for 6-pack
S$54 / 750 ml for 3-pack
S$58 / 750 ml

Biodynamic methodology (aeration of the soil, herbal influsions, natural composts, cover crops, planting in accordance with the lunar calendar) used to stimulate the natural immune system of the vine. Made from two parcels of vines, one 45 years old and the other 110 years old (planted before World War I). Manually harvested, as late as possible to achieve maximum ripeness. Long fermentations, with whole clusters, for 15-25 days at low temperatures to allow for longest skin contact possible. Wine is then aged on fine lees in old Burgundian barrels for 6-8 months. Bottled with no fining nor filtration.

“Bottled (with one gram of sulfur!) a month before I tasted it, Jean-Paul Thevenet’s 2010 Morgon Vieilles Vignes prominently displays exuberant, tart, seedy red raspberry, and sour cherry with its pit. Roasted nuttiness and marrow-rich beef stock-like carnal elements well-up on the otherwise lively and juicy as well as polished palate, and a streak of salinity helps serve for a mouthwatering not to mention bright and piquant finish. I suspect that this will add richness as it puts distance between itself and bottling.” WA 90+ points

1.  Prices are quoted nett in Singapore Dollars, ex-cellar Singapore.
2.  All orders are subject to final written confirmation and to remaining unsold. Full settlement is required to confirm order.
3.  The content of this offer is valid till 8 November 2011 or until sold-out.
4.  Delivery is free to a single Singapore address for orders above $500. Please allow a few days to schedule delivery.
5.  Wines sold are not returnable.
6.  This offer cannot be used in conjunction with other special promotions.

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B1-01 Palais Renaissance
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