Tasted in Château Thivin with Claude Geoffray, pictured with his wife, Evelyne 05 February 2020.
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Claude Geoffray on 2019:
“2019 was a very hot year – like everywhere in Europe – probably too hot for the vines for a time. We have lots of colour but also very elegant – not hyper-powerful – wines. We had some hail in the Clos Rochbonne in the south of Beaujolais but weren’t affected by frost this year. There were actually 4 different hailstorms the same day – fortunately, the vines were something of a jungle at that time so the leaves did a good job of protecting the grapes – it wasn’t quite the catastrophe it would otherwise have been. We actually washed the grapes as there had been no rain to remove the insects and the last treatments – fermentations went well – so maybe the washing aided the fermentations that followed.”
Claude on 2018:
“2018 was a year that was very warm and was also very dry – we had lots of grapes – but luckily it was dry in August so we didn’t exceed 50-52 hl/ha, it could have been much more if it had rained! A nice harvest with lovely grapes, starting our harvest right at the end of August – and it was a stress-free harvest too, because we had the time and the people with good weather. The wines have turned out well, perhaps a little less concentrated and more elegant than in 2017.”
Overwhelmingly excellent wines, occasionally great but those wines need patience. A fresh clarity is the hallmark of the reds in this ripe vintage – that’s a welcome change!
All the wines were in bottle.
2018 Beaujolais Villages Blanc – Cuvée Marguerite
A vein of white limestone, the same as in Mâconnais runs through the vines of Brouilly which isn’t typical – the vines are in Brouilly but the AOC doesn’t exist for Brouilly blanc so it is Beaujolais Villages. Vinified and elevage in barrel, staying there for 7-8 months on fine lees with some batonnage. No hail here. 10% new oak…
Wide, smooth, a suggestion of sweet oak. A faint gas – mineral, saline – fine width of flavour. Not quite a rigour from the minerality – wait 6-12 months for the last of the oak to fade. Nice personality here and a fine finish.
2018 Beaujolais Villages Blanc Clos de Rochebonne
There’s a little more skin contact here – it’s overnight on the skins before pressing the next day. 460m altitude, as much as 15 days later harvested as the reds here – a real Clos, with a locked door! The limestone is pierre dorée here. Same 10% new oak, bottled in May/June.
More airy, almost floral – a step up – there’s 10% new oak here too, but aromatically it’s barely visible. Wide, growing in intensity, also a faint salinity, less. Supple, silky a certain richness but always with balance – a simply delicious finish – it’s really super here. Excellent!
The AOP of BJV is only mentioned on the back label – and this is a very contemporary – non-standard for Thivin – label. There was a little to test in 2016, this the first real vintage, from vines in Quincié – and (shock!) bottled with a screw-cap – this was Claude’s idea – it’s very popular by the glass in Lyon. The vinification was the normal style for the domaine – ‘but looking for a little lighter wine that’s more fruit-forward.’
That’s an easy freshness of aromatic, attractive, fruit. Incisive, fresh, lovely energy, at it’s price-point, this is a super wine – bravo! Slightly structural, faintly tannic, completely delicious. €8 from the cellar door!
2018 Brouilly Reverdon
Granitic, looking to the east and the hill of Brouilly. Different label to the classic (for the Brouilly and the BV blanc) but it’s been like that since the 70s. On a pink granite-like Chiroubles and Fleurie.
More colour. More depth but of finely acidulated and focused fruit. Wide, fresh, modestly mineral, precise, lovely line of freshness and modestly intense finishing flavour. Excellent wine – I particularly like the freshness of line. Yum!
2018 Côte de Brouilly Les Sept Vignes
Here the famous bluestone soil. An assembly of their seven parcels – hence the name. ‘Normally more structured and powerful for long aging.’
A little more width of aroma – freshness again – so far that’s the theme here. More mouth-filling a little more supple, but still not a wine I’d call rich. Layers of flavour, not a wine of impact but one that keeps delivering layer after layer of delicious flavour. Great in its modest style – and holding so well in the finish too!
2018 Côte de Brouilly Clos Bertrand
From in front of the château, was a vineyard for the church in the 1300s. Sheep grazing there again – in the middle of the slope – today.
Not dark wines so far. The nose a little fuller and deeper but retaining its freshness and bite. A little visible tannin, no grain though. More supple, equally layered. More impression of concentration here. I’ve a slight preference for the latter wine today, but this is excellent all the same.
2018 Côte de Brouilly La Griottes de Brulhié
Brulhié is the old (1735) spelling of Brouilly. Mid-slope parcel, south-facing – an early ripening section.
A little more fresh clarity to these aromas – deeper colour but far from saturated. Bright, almost gassy, lots of energy and mouth-filling volume. The fruit behind has clarity and freshness. Excellent again, possibly even better!
2018 Côte de Brouilly Cuvée la Chapelle
Plain south-facing, the highest vines with a steep, close to 40% incline – more clay on the more fertile soil, and really needs a caterpillar tractor to be safe
Extra colour again. A more compact nose – concentrated in the depth, suggesting but hardly delivering freshness. In the mouth a wall, a great wave of fresh volume – modestly accented with tannin – no grain – a really excellent line of intense, slowly mouth-watering flavour – that’s super – like an acid-cherry. Not a broad finish but a haunting one. Excellent!
It’s a blend of parcels. Godefroy is the name of the lieu-dit. From very old vines – the oldest are 97-years-old – bought by Claude-Edouard’s grandfather – so in the family nearly 100 years – but it wasn’t him who planted them…
A more compact nose again but the core is clearly of silken red raspberry-redcurrant fruit. Hmm, in the mouth this is quite something, the same off-dry red fruit, melting its flavour over the palate, widening, faintly accented with the tannin, long, considered but great – bravo!
It was Zaccharie who bought the domaine in 1877, at that time with less than 4 hectares – Marguerite was his wife. All barrel aged – smaller barrels – for about 9-10 months – up to 10% new oak.
Deep, vibrant nose, yes some oak, but not a dominant note. Large-scaled but of freshness and velvet texture. A touch of sweetness that’s more 2018 than those before, the oak showing in the flavours here too. A wine with everything – the finish grows even larger – but I wouldn’t hesitate in waiting 5 years before returning. Bravo!
And, to finish, something a little different:
2018 Sonja Geoffray, Utopia
Daughter-in-law planted a wide range of cepages near the borders of gardens and there were zero treatments in the year.
A deep colour. The nose is dark, a decent slug of oak is present. Round, rich, depth to this texture, a good volume in the mouth – complexity, no obvious oak in the flavours except something faint in the finish. Different, yet comforting, concentrated and exceedingly tasty.