2021 Domaine du Petit Pérou, Morgon "Vieilles Vignes"
2021 Domaine du Petit Pérou, Morgon "Vieilles Vignes"

2021 Domaine du Petit Pérou, Morgon "Vieilles Vignes"

Beaujolais, France 2021 (750mL)
Regular price$37.00

2021 Domaine du Petit Pérou, Morgon "Vieilles Vignes"

Of all 10 Cru Beaujolais appellations, Morgon is almost certainly the most recognizable, the one that even casual lovers of French wine are likely to name. This is probably due to a relative ease in pronunciation, but also because these wines combine the silky, sensuous, instant-gratification that Beaujolais is known for with a deeper, more robust and complex structure. They’re the most effective gateway drug, and the best argument, to bring Red Burgundy devotées into the Gamay lovers camp. And as such the village is also home to some of the most famous names in the region: Lapierre, Foillard, and Desvignes all hail from this little town. Another well known name is Thévenet, and it is this clan who has gifted us with a tiny production, Morgon masterpiece from 100 year old vines. Deep, sappy fruit, red and blue flowers, and a wallop of earthy, saline minerals all combine to achieve a balance of complexity and drinkability that is nothing short of wine nirvana. It’s awesome now, and will be even better over the next five to ten years. Stock up before it’s gone!

For sommeliers and stateside wine geeks the name “Thévenet” was made famous by Jean-Paul and his importer, Kermit Lynch, who along with Marcel Lapierre, Jean Foillard, and Guy Breton are widely credited with putting both Cru Beaujolais, and by proxy “natural wine,” into the American zeitgeist. Kermit nicknamed his all-star producers the “Gang of Four” (yes, a clever allusion to the groundbreaking punk band) and they never looked back. Of course, like all good stories this one is part truth and part legend, but it is a great story nonetheless. However, there were actually many producers in the late 1970s and ‘80s who began making the transition away from bulk wines and selling to negociants, and also away from the Dubeouf focus on Beaujolais Nouveau. The focus on the Crus, and on estate bottled wines was both innovative and necessary given the tough financial environment. Indeed another branch of the Thévenet family, headed by Roger and his son Laurent, have been making top notch Morgon for decades just down the road from their more famous cousin.

When Roger Thévenet took the helm of his family estate, Domaine du Petit Pérou, the vineyards had been divided by inheritance several times and he was left with just 3.5 hectares. But by 1985 he and Laurent had managed to grow their holdings to 10 hectares, and today it sits at a total of 18. Most of that is still in the village of Morgon, where they cultivate several parcels throughout the appellation, working organically and doing everything the old-school way. Roger has retired, but is still active in the cellar, and Laurent is joined now by his son Hugo and daughter Alexa.

The commune and appellation of Morgon is generally dominated by soils heavy in granite, with pockets of volcanic rock, limestone and alluvial clay, geology that is similar to most of the ten Beaujolais crus. But just south of the town is the famous lieu-dit hill of Côte du Py. Here the soils are almost pure blueschist, with a bit of iron-rich clay mixed in. This contributes to wines that are deeper, darker, and generally more structured–which also means they age extremely well. The Thévenet clan has a small parcel here, near the foot of the hill, that was planted back in 1920, and they bottle this simply as Morgon “Vieilles Vignes.” 

Made with only a small amount of stems, and only partially carbonic, the family’s prized plot is aged for 12 months in neutral oak barrels before being bottled without fining or filtration. The 2021 is a terrific, classically styled vintage that has many glorious years ahead of it, but it is also incredibly enjoyable right now after a 30-45 minute decant. Serve cool, in a large Burgundy bowl, and the captivating aromas of ripe strawberries, red currants, wild blackberries, violets, roses, orange zest, clove, cocoa beans, and damp earth all leap from the glass. The youthful, sappy fruit is well balanced by a firmer structure than is common for Gamay, and finishes with loads of saline minerals. This is wine that will be extremely fun to follow over the next decade, just make sure you grab enough to open one every year to check in on!

2021 Domaine du Petit Pérou, Morgon "Vieilles Vignes"

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