Spotlight on White Burgundy: Domaine de la Bongran Cuvee E.J. Thevenet Vire Clesse “Quintaine” 2004
My last write-up on a wine from the Maconnais before moving into the Cote d’Or focuses on one of that region’s long-time, but most atypical, producers: Domaine de la Bongran, headed by Jean Thevenet. Bongran is fantastically consistent and crafts wines that hit well above their price point.
Thevenet has embraced an unusual approach to grape growing in the Maconnais, letting his fruit hang much longer than normal, occasionally to the point of light botrytization. As such, these are rich, unctuous wines, sometimes with residual sugar, and tend to lean more into the tropical and orchard fruit category than the classic citrus most expect from the Maconnais.
Created in 1998, Vire Clesse consists of the communes Vire, Clesse, Laize and Montbellet in the Maconnais. This AOC is generally associated with wines that are classic examples of clean, bright but simple Maconnais Chardonnay. However, though most from the region are content with large yields and mechanical harvesting, with his late harvesting by hand and low-impact farming Thevenet offers an entirely different take on what this AOC can do.
Because Vire-Clesse AOC rules require wines with less than 3g/l of residual sugar, Domaine de la Bongran generally cannot label many of its wines with the appellation because of when they harvest grapes. This wine, however, is sufficiently dry (likely due to the vintage) to label itself with the AOC.
The Cuvee E.J. Thevenet is made with a selection of the best parcels of the Quintaine vineyard, which is one of the best in Vire-Clesse. This Vire Clesse is fully developed with wonderful secondary characteristics. Clean and perfectly delineated with a unique character that far exceeds the usual simple pleasure of Vire Clesse, it offers a good intro to Thevenet’s style without going into the fully unctuous territory of Botrytized grapes and residual sugar. It is also a perfect example of what a good producer can do with a so-called “bad” vintage.
Very Good+ and Highly Recommended Value