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What our expert thought of Jean-Paul Thévenet, Morgon ‘Le Clachet’

the tasting

The Tasting

A fairly deep ruby, this is much less purple than most Beaujolais.  It looks like a proper red.  Swirling leaves noticeable legs on the sides of the glass, hinting at the highish 13.5% alcohol.
The deep nose is immediately appealing, all forest fruits and dark chocolate, backed up by plenty of herbs and spice.  There’s no trace of bubblegum here.  Instead there are unoaked black fruits ‐ bramble and blueberry ‐ with a strong herbal edge of mint and nettles.  A hint of kirsch adds richness and depth, but the scent remains sour rather than sweet.
On the palate this is big and savoury, even meaty, despite the fresh acidity.  There are concentrated dark fruits here, but their flavours are so well integrated that they’re hard to tease apart: perhaps sour black cherry, bramble and raspberry.  The fine tannins are well-integrated too, adding depth and a touch of bitterness to unsweeten the fruit.
The savoury finish is dry, herby and cool.  It tastes less than 13.5%: there’s no alcoholic warmth or sweetness.  Instead it leaves a lingering impression of cool mint and cigars.


It’s hard to believe that this is made entirely from Gamay, the same grape responsible for bubblegum- and banana-flavoured Nouveau.  But those flavours are produced by cultured yeasts and ultra-low-temperature fermentation: they’re not a true expression of the Gamay grape.
With its savoury, gamey qualities and forest floor scents, this tastes much more like a red burgundy from further north, which is perhaps not so surprising given that Gamay is a child of Pinot Noir, though this wine is drier and darker-fruited than most burgundies.
The hands-off winemaking style may, somewhat paradoxically, also be apparent.  I’m beginning to think that the delightful combination of forest fruits and dark chocolate may be a characteristic of natural wines: it was also a feature of the Nas del Gegant and 30,000 Maravedíes reds that we drank recently, despite them being made from very different grape varieties.
I may have been overly hard on Beaujolais Nouveau.  Yes, it’s industrial, but it’s also a little bit of fun in a gloomy November.  Come Thursday I’ll probably be buying a bottle myself, just to check on the new vintage.  But it won’t be a patch on this!
Post Script: As it happened, I didn’t get to the shops on Thursday, but I did today (Friday).  Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau – posh!  (That’s Waitrose for you.)  Translucent purple-red.  Smells more like a sweetshop than a wine – a really old-fashioned sweetshop with brightly coloured sweeties in tall glass jars.  Tastes reassuringly dry, lots of juicy fruits, no tannin at all.  Quaffable… but after the second glass I don’t really want a third.  Quite promising: 2017 is clearly a good vintage and when the real stuff gets released it should be excellent.

Tasting notes

clear medium+ ruby, noticeable legs

Intensity medium+, very appealing & fine

Aromas black forest fruits (bramble, blueberry), dark chocolate, herbs (mint, nettles), rich red fruit (kirsch), spice. Smells sour rather than sweet.

Development developing

Sweetness fully dry

Acidity medium+

Body medium+, held in check by acidity

Tannins medium+, well-integrated, dry but not drying

Intensity medium+, very savoury

Flavours concentrated, well-integrated fruits, both black (sour cherry, bramble) and red (raspberry), herbs, touch of bitterness

Length medium(+?)

Flavours very dry but not drying, savoury, herby (cool mint, cigars)
Other notes
No reduction. Fine & complex unoaked nose smells sour rather than sweet. Notably savoury & meaty palate, but pure-fruited. Cool finish doesn’t display expected 13.5% warmth.

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