This is one of the most unique, compelling, and delicious white wines I’ve had in a long time. After enjoying a glass of this last night, I’m arguing with myself as to whether I want to take the rest home or offer some up to the public…………I think I’ll offer some up, but please note I’ve only got 20 precious bottles of this one to share. Jean Thévenet’s Domaine de la Bongran Viré-Clessé is the stuff of legends, and what this man is able to do with Chardonnay is nothing short of amazing. I’ve been in this business for close to 2o years now, and I’ve never encountered a white wine like this from the Maconnais. Get it while you can because this stuff is not going to last long. Here’s the deal:
2008 Domaine de la Bongran Viré-Clessé Regular Price: $42.99/bottle (That’s a fair price!)
Jean Thévenet was one of the early proponents of organic viticulture, minimalist, natural viticulture and winemaking in France in the early 1980’s. His approach in the vineyard and in his cellars is much more intuitive and “knowing” than many of his peers. Thévenet makes his wines the old way, the traditional way, the way that wines were made before the Great Wars. All along the way, he takes the risks that are necessary to create great (not just good wine). It all starts in his vineyards along the slopes of the village of Quintaine where he farms without the use of any artificial chemicals and more importantly where he harvests later than anyone else in the Maconnais; this yields fully ripe, mature, flavorful grapes, but Jean always runs the risk of frost ruining his entire crop. All of the grapes are hand harvested and brought to the cellars where the wine enjoys a long, cool, slow, natural fermentation which takes close to two years. The wine is then bottled and held in Thévenet’s cellars until he feels it is ready for release. Thus, the 2008 Domaine de la Bongran Viré-Clessé is the current release!
So what does all of this mean, what does this stuff smell and taste like? The later harvest and the low and slow fermentation both contribute to the finished product. Deep golden in color, when you swirl this one in the glass, it behaves more like a red wine, clinging to the side of the glass. The nose is an intoxicating mix of golden fruit, orange marmalade, citrus oil, caramel, rocky mineral, and spice, and I’m keeping the description short because this one kept changing after each sip. On the palate, this one just absolutely coats the tongue with intense, assertive flavors of ripe fruit, salted caramel, mineral and brown spice. There’s a touch of residual sugar, but there’s plenty of acidity too so it doesn’t present itself as sweet at all. Once I drained my glass, I almost got up to get another, but everyone told me that this actually improves on day 2 and 3. That’s hard to believe, but I guess I’ll find out and you can too! Run, don’t walk to Table Wine to get your hands on some of this incredible white wine before I take it all home.