Domaine de la Bongran Grand Vin de Bourgogne Viré Clesse 2012
Winegrower: Gautier Thevenet
Region: Viré Clesse, Mâconnais (Burgundy) France
“Gautier Thevenet took over from his father Jean in 2000, but nothing has changed at this domaine, celebrated since the early 20th century for its uncompromising winemaking. Low-yielding Chardonnay selections, late harvests and protracted fermentation and maturation produce deep, concentrated, singular wines.”
- Decanter Magazine, June 2017
With an eye towards organic viticulture for decades, a dedication to low yields, slow fermentations and non-interventionist winemaking, Gautier Thevenet’s Domaine de la Bongran Viré Clesse 2012 is one of the best-value Chardonnays in Burgundy. De la Bongran is the Thevenet family’s original flagship domaine. Their Viré-Clessé is the stuff of legends and will transcend any preconceived notions you may have about this region; what they are able to do with Chardonnay is nothing short of amazing. A single bottling of Viré-Clessé is produced and it is undoubtedly one of the most unique expressions of Chardonnay made today. Grapes are allowed to mature much later than the norm and produce a wine that is naturally high in alcohol, rich in body, bright in minerality with slight traces of residual sugar and a mouth-watering acidity that gives incredible balance. This creates incredible food pairing possibilities. Domaine de la Bongran Viré Clesse 2012 is the most delicious, complex, and compelling white wine you’ll find from the Mâconnais.
Gautier, like his father, is a staunch non-interventionist. He farms his clay and limestone soils as naturally as possible: chemicals haven’t been used in his family’s vineyards for many decades, he drastically reduces the yields, and he harvests later than anyone else in the region. This leads to wines of much greater depth and richness.
Domaine de la Bongran is grown on a 4.5-hectare vineyard of clay with white marl subsoils. The vines are 40 to 60 years old and all work is by hand. Cool fermentations with natural, indigenous yeasts take up to two years. The wine is aged in old oak on its fine lees and then lightly filtered and bottled with minimal sulphur added. The wines are then further aged in bottle before being released. Today’s wine is a terroir-driven beauty of poised fruit, beautiful, bold aromatics, elegance and incredible balance.
The Thevenet family has been making wine in the Mâconnais since the 15th century. For over 100 years they have stayed true to their tradition of taking time to make the best wines possible using a traditional approach.
It's hard to imagine that terms like ‘organic viticulture’, ‘minimal intervention’ and ‘natural wine’ didn't always exist. Jean Thévenet, along with the likes of Marcel Lapierre and Pierre Overnoy, are largely credited with the development of these philosophies in France in the 1980's. Gautier learned his craft from his father, who in-turn learned it from his father. Gautier makes his wines the traditional way, the way that wines were made before two World Wars. He is a vigneron that takes the risks necessary to create great wine. It all starts in his vineyards along the slopes of the village of Quintaine where he farms without the use of chemicals and harvests later than anyone else in the region. This yields fully ripe, mature, flavourful grapes, but always at the risk of losing the crop to frost.
Domaine de la Bongran Viré Clesse 2012 pulsates with life, incredible purity of fruit and the essence of the soil. It’s a beautifully crafted Chardonnay that displays the Thevenet family’s trademark richness, complexity, depth and elegance. Deep gold in colour, when you swirl this wine it behaves more like a red, clinging noticeably to the side of the glass. The bouquet is a heady, intoxicating mix of white flowers, orange blossoms, fennel and spice. It has a wonderful mineral backbone and mouth-watering, refreshing acidity that chimes in perfect harmony with its residual sugar of honeyed fruit to produce a perfectly balanced wine with a long finish. This is a stunning, luxurious wine at a great price. Serve this wine at 10˚ in white wine stems with a delicious wild mushroom risotto.