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Average critic rating : 91.83 points
The 2005 Viré-Clessé “Cuvée Levroutée”, which comes from a special two hectares of vine, has an intense bouquet with notes of kerosene, stem ginger, honeycomb and a touch of nutmeg. The palate is ripe and generous on the entry, with touches of ginger, white pepper, bitter orange and a touch of dried honey on the finish. Having tasted this wine blind last year and not quite understood this unique wine, I must admit that I appreciate where Jean Thévenet is coming from and what he intends. My re-evaluation reflects that. Oct 2014, www.roebrtparker.com, Drink: 2014-2023
Wow! Really going strong - loads of opulent fruit, loads of spice, loads of rich oak. It might be accused of being a bit 'Californian' by some, but it's a really satisfying and vibrant wine with excellent, valid maturity. Mar 2014, www.jancisrobinson.com
(from one hectare where the marne blanche is close to the surface and acts like a sponge for humidity, bringing early botrytis--typically about 25% for this cuvée): Pale, bright yellow-gold. Like the Cuvée Tradition on steroids, offering aromas of truffle, honey, marzipan and resiny spices. Liquid silk in the mouth but with its obvious sweetness (about ten grams per liter) nicely countered by harmonious acidity. Almost too much for this taster: try it with lobster or in place of a vin jaune alongside porcini mushrooms or cheese. This wine was just released. Dec 2015, www.vinous.com, Drink: 2015-2025
Domaine de la Bongran (Jean Thevenet): The Importance
Jean Thévenet and his son Gautier produce some of Burgundy’s most idiosyncratic, rich, energetic and simply brilliant expressions of Chardonnay, all punching well above their price tag. Almost inexplicably these outstanding wines remain relatively under-the-radar, despite huge critical acclaim…
“These are the wines of a genius.” – Robert Parker
“The quality of what is produced here is mind boggling.” – Allen Meadows
“What are these rich, unctuous wines doing here among their taut, steely, minimalist counterparts?” – Neal Martin
“Wine aficionados like to root for a winemaker who lives and breathes his calling. This is the story of a man who inspires just such support. He is Jean Thévenet, a 52-year-old grower in Burgundy. He’s obsessed with quality and makes terrific, highly distinctive white Burgundy…. Thévenet puts to shame many other producers in the Mâconnais.” – Wine Spectator
"One of Burgundy's greatest winemakers... served blind, tasters tend to think they are Grand Cru white Burgundies from Puligny- or Chassagne-Montrachet." – Robert Parker
As proof of just how idiosyncratic these wines are, Neal Martin admitted in 2014 that: "I misjudged the wines from Domaine de la Bongran. I thought I would just come out and say it. You never get everything right... I requested a tête-à-tête not just to re-examine the wines, but to do so after learning and discovering the modus operandi and motives first-hand. And as I expected, perhaps as I hoped, I departed with a completely different outlook upon Thévenet’s wines" He concluded that these wines are a "revelation" that "deserve cellaring."
Domaine de la Bongran (Jean Thevenet): The Insight
Bongran's wines are truly unique. Nobody in Burgundy makes wine the way the Thévenets do on their traditional organically-farmed 15 hectare estate planted on white marl in the hamlet of Quintaine, just north of Clessé. Grapes are left to hang on the vines until they are ultraripe and even botrytised. The grapes are then gently squeezed in a Coquard press until every ounce of flavour and all the intensely honeyed aromatics have been harvested. The wines undergo ultra long fermentation and ageing on the fine lees, and are held back in the cellars at the domaine's expense, only being released when they are deemed ready to drink or as Wine Spectator put it: "mature and ready to be enjoyed."
Henri Jayer once said that a winemaker needs a chair. Less intervention, more reflection. This is somewhat mirrored in Jean Thevent’s motto: “Terroir is to wine what a composer is to music. The winemaker being only the conductor.” In the cellars of Domaine de la Bongran intervention is minimal, with fermentations sometimes taking up to two years. The grapes are harvested late, and the rich, sweet juice is then given all the time it needs. The wines are never released before they are deemed ready to drink, and have the structure and balance to age for decades. Easily a match for the best of Puligny or Chassagne-Montrachet, they are examples of the heights that can be achieved with traditional winemaking methods. FINE+RARE is proud to be their key UK importer.
Domaine de la Bongran (Jean Thevenet): The Background
Domaine de la Bongran is a family winery created several centuries ago and passed from generation to generation. They requested certification in organic farming from Ecocert in 2008 and produce wines “aimed at a clientele of wine lovers.”
The Viré-Clessé, also known as Cuvée Tradition, is the most popular wine offering rich complexity, freshness and power with finesse. Cuvée Levrouté (or Levroutee) is made from grapes at the stage of botrytisation, adding honey and truffle to the flavour profile. Cuvée Botrytis is rare and rich, coming from partially or fully botrytised grapes.
The Thévenets have a second Mâconnais domaine, Emilian Gillet, founded in 1988. These wines are on vines planted on chalkier more limestone-rich soil than the Bongran vines, and are more mineral, and crisper as a result. Gautier Thévenet also runs Domaine de Roally, purchased fromHenri Goyard, in Viré overlooking the Saône plain, which produces citrusy wines sold in the US and Japan.
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