As a young winemaker, Anthony Thévenet worked for with two of the founding fathers of organic viticulture in Beaujolais – Georges Descombes and Jean Foillard. For over five years he explored the depths of organic practices while crafting a plan to make his own wine. In 2013 he inherited around two hectares of vines from his grandfather and immediately began conversion to organic agriculture. A year later, he took over another hectare of vines on Morgon’s famous Côte du Py, and soon after released his first wines. His inaugural vintage attracted immediate attention, and his 2016 release solidified his position as a master of Gamay and clearly one to watch.
The Thévenet domaine now includes parcels scattered around the region, allowing Anthony to craft a range of distinct expressions of Gamay. With even the smallest terroir changes the grapes differ, and the wines reflect those diverse qualities. Beaujolais plots with sandier soils often create wines with elegance and aromatic lift, while more stony soils tend to create denser wines with firmer tannins. And further distinctions are made in the élevage. But regardless of cuvée, all the Thévenet wines have become known for their quality, elegance and complexity.
“I prefer wines that are very delicate, but at the same time, very complex.”
Anthony’s persistent attention to detail extends from the vineyards to the cellar. In the vines he does everything he can by hand, eschews all chemicals, and tills the soils himself. He carefully monitors the microbes in the soils and creates his own biodynamic treatments to keep vines healthy. He has even commissioned a local company to make his own fertiliser. His winemaking is precise and focused. Since all of his wines employ whole bunch carbonic fermentation, he is especially engaged in temperature control and prefers to use concrete vats. He uses no sulfites or cultured yeasts and does not fine or filter his wines.
For ageing, he avoids new oak completely in favour of small used barrels and large 600 litre demi-muids which he says are perfect for, “…just rounding the wine and keeping fruity side.” He meticulously monitors the ageing process, testing the wines monthly to see how they change and even ageing the same parcel in barrels of different age to watch the effects on the wine. He says, “I love to follow the evolution of the wines in the barrel. It really lets me know where the wines are… and where they need to go.”
All of Anthony’s wines combine lift, structure and a little something special. He manages to create both the traditional style of Beaujolais with his old vine cuvées, as well as a more modern lifted style with the younger vines labeled Morgon and Chénas.View Wines
“I always wanted to be organic, organic, organic! To not use chemicals at all. For my daughter, for my 74 year-old grandmother who works with us… for everyone really.”
Anthony is the fourth generation of his family to make wine in the Beaujolais region. Even though his father chose a different career, Anthony still grew up surrounded by vines and always wanted to be a winemaker.
He went to viticulture school, then continued learning alongside some of the finest winemakers in the region. His passion for wine, and for organic agriculture intensified with each harvest. Soon after Anthony started his eponymous domaine, his father left his job to join him in his new venture. Anthony jokes that the departure was allegedly because his father loved nature and longed to be outdoors, but in reality it was because he truly believed in Anthony’s organic vision and was drawn to be a part of it. The elder Thévenet is now technically retired, but on the day of our visit there, he was onsite, working amongst the vines in the baking sun and joining us later in the cooler confines of the cellar for a taste.
Anthony uses temporary workers during harvest and outsources his administrative needs, but the everyday onsite team is really a family affair. He is building a new winemaking facility on a site that currently combines an ageing cellar and his home. He is creating his vision of a perfect family domaine, which he will share with his partner, their 7 year-old daughter Julia and their dog Syrah. Anthony’s grandmother also still works the harvest and helps tend the more than 150 rose plants that are planted throughout the domaine!Follow
"I used to love to pretend to drive the tractor as a kid. I was crazy for the vines. And now these vines are my babies.”
Morgon, Beaujolais, France
While Thévenet himself is based near the village of Fleurie, the majority of his vineyards are in Morgon, probably the most celebrated of the Beaujolais Cru and the geographic and figurative heart of the region. Morgon is made up of of five climats with varying terroir with noted differences in soil, temperature and wind. Regardless of location, Anthony says the long hot summers mean, “these wines can be as complex as Burgundy when aged, but also can have the power and structure of wines from the Rhône.”
In Morgon, he has just replanted a very special plot on the famous hill of the Côte du Py. The schist there is extremely hard and is noteworthy for the bright colours, which vary from orange to teal. There is very little topsoil, creating powerful and concentrated wines that are distinct from the granite terroir common throughout Morgon. Anthony’s new vineyard is on the south side of the hill, on a gentle slope with lots of wind. The special cuvée he makes from the vines here is named after his young daughter, Julia. AOC rules decree that the new plantings need 3 years of maturity before the lieu-dit name can be used, so we will have to eagerly anticipate the next release of this wine in 2024.
In 2017 he added some parcels in Chénas, the smallest of the Beaujolais Cru, in the northern part of the region. Deep pink granite soils here create wines that are known to have rose aromas. He also has some 50 year-old old vines on the top of the slope which he uses for a special Vieilles Vignes cuvée.
The pride of the domaine are his centenaire vines. They are thought to be about 150 years-old, though they could be older. The vines were there when his great grand parents acquired the land, but there was no documentation about the vines as they were part of a simple marriage contract. Anthony estimates these vines will only be productive for another half-decade, and is wistful about the thought of replacing them. Note to readers: Stock up on the Centenaire cuvée now!
For all his parcels, he minimises interventions as best as he can. He encourages a thick canopy of leaves on his vines, explaining that the leaves protect the grapes from the intense sun. He also prefers to work in the vines in the early morning hours to keep the freshness and minimise heat stress. He uses copious amounts of Purin d’orties, an organic treatment for the vines made from macerated nettles to keep vines healthy and nourished. He is constantly searching for organic alternatives and is encouraged that more of the nearby winemakers are embracing organic practices as well.
"There are many domaines in Beaujolais now who are leaving the old commercial ways and creating another movement, one that respects more the nature and land.”
On the day of our recent visit we watched snakes bathing in the sun on the hot rocks and saw rabbits running in the fields. We could smell the aroma of the hedges of roses and feel the warm wind on the hilltops. The slow pace of life in Beaujolais, especially compared to other nearby regions, is surely a factor in the style of wines made there. For Anthony Thévenet, those wines represent the efforts of one small family to show the world the great possibilities of Gamay. We are truly proud to represent one of the finest winemakers in the region.Location
“Making wine is a passion. If someone is just searching for money, its not possible. Great wine must be from the heart”