Domaine de la Bongran - Viré-Clessé
Vire Classe AOC, Burgundy, France
This is a truly unique white from Jean Thévenet and his legendary flagship 4.5-hectare vineyard. A wine brimming with trademark richness yet retaining mellow autumnal flavours. It has a hint of Botrytis with zingy crispness, a mineral backbone where freshness chimes in perfect harmony with the residual sugar of honeyed fruit and candied apricots. The finish is a fascinating experience—an unreal complex length.
The juice has an extended fermentation and time on lees for up to two years and further years in the bottle using late harvest. The Thévenets' do not release without a minimum of two years bottle age.
There are some winemakers that are so ground-breaking that the Oxford Companion to Wine sees fit to give them their own entry. Jean Thevenet and his son Gautier are two of them. It’s difficult to concisely explain their work without getting quite technical but their wines are the very antithesis of mass market productions.
To start with, the Thevenets pick their grapes later than all their neighbours. We’re not just talking a few days late; weeks and sometimes more than a month later. This is a point noticed by his fellow winemakers. “Ah, Thevenet,” they say, “The late one!” The resultant grapes are so powerfully concentrated that his wines are unlike anything else in the world. Deep, opulent and sometimes with a little residual sugar, a gift from selected grapes with noble rot.
Another major difference is that Jean and Gautier achieve all this body and opulence without a splinter of oak being used. Instead, they use steel thanks lying on their side (another first by Jean) in the same way as oak barrels usually lie. This allows greater oxygen and lees contact, elevating the wines without adding oak and smoke.
The entire, eye opening operation is organic and only natural yeasts are used. They carefully tend their vines in winter, some of which are 90 years old. But it is the slow fermentation that is essential to the Thevenet style. Most wines are fermented within a month but they use a natural ferment that takes a year. We’re so proud to represent these extraordinary wines in Ireland and we hope you treat yourself to the experience.
"Thévenet's Domaine de la Bongran is one of the world's great Chardonnays."
"Jean Thévenet is arguably the most idiosyncratic producer of Clessé, the one who was making botrytised Chardonnay aeons ago, the one who in a way inspired the new Viré-Clessé appellation, but whose wines are too rich to be allowed to use it. His other, fiscally independent domaine is Emilian-Gillet. Both labels are encountered on some of the most concentrated, distinctive wines of the dynamic Mâconnais region."
Domaine de la Bongran
Here the bedrock - white marl - rises at the foot of the vines, allows the grape variety, exclusively chardonnay, to give its full measure. It gives the wine complexity and finesse, a balance between aromatic power and minerality.