Spotlight on the Maconnais wines of Jean and Gauthier Thevenet: Domaine de Roally Viré-Clessé 2014

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In a region of over 9,000 growers, it is a shame that so few focus on terroir differences. In this lies the greatness of the three Thevent cuvees – they truly express a vision of Maconnais terroir.

The Domaine de Roally wines offer an intriguing contrast to those of Bongran, though made in a very similar manner. Unlike the intense richness of Bongran, Roally offers a more acid-driven and minerally wine. These qualities derive from the vineyard terroir, which extends over 4 hectares in Viré on limestone soils versus the clay and marl soils of Bongran’s vineyards.

On Sugar, Indigenous Ferments, and Balance

Roally was originally run by Henri Goyard (a schoolyard friend of Jean Thevenet), who was an early pioneer for top quality Macon wines in the 1970’s and 1980’s. He was ‘discovered’ by American importer Louis Dressner in the late 1980’s, who introduced the wines to the United States. After 2000, Goyard retired and the domaine was purchased by Gauthier Thevent, who now runs it and is the winemaker.

Just like Domaine de la Bongran, Roally is fermented with indigenous yeasts that naturally end the fermentation with some residual sugar. This is a distinctive part of the terroir and, as noted above, manifests in a completely different manner here than in Bongran. I love the salinity and precision in a wine that is deceptively versatile due to the imperceptible sugar. As Jean Thevent puts it, “The point is that wines from this terroir always have residual sugar. But if it’s balanced, you don’t feel it. Wines that are not chaptalised, that are naturally rich in sugar and where the fermentation was not halted by technology, these are wines that can age incredibly!”

The Wine

Less opulent and shockingly powerful than the Bongran, this is a wine all about directness. There is a distinctive note of cashews in the wine alongside white flowers, white flower derived honey, citrus, and minerals. This is a versatile Chardonnay that pairs with food much white Burgundy does not – for instance, the quiche I paired this with that usually clashes with the oak treatment on white burg. Very crisp and dry finish.

Excellent and highly recommended value
$41 + tax at Liberty Wine Merchants

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