Vire Clesse AOC , Burgundy, France
For over 12 years I have been purchasing wine from Jean Thèvenet and he is yet to allocate me a bottle that is less than brilliant! A white wine of incredible richness and depth. Full bodied, buttery Chardonnay which is perfectly balanced by a refreshing acidity.
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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.
"Silky fruit of fine quality, made more enticing with butterscotch and delicate white-peach overtones."
"A real step up in richness from normal Macon wines. Light nut, buttery soft, pear and orange."
"Jean T 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. He often releases wines much later than other producers."
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.