I have a few Jean Thévenet wines in my cellar and they always provide a completely different view of white Burgundy from pretty much anything else. This wine, from the Mâconnais, is startlingly young for its age and shows the distinctive, botrytis-tinged character that I’ve come to enjoy from Thévenet.
I experienced not-entirely-irrational anxiety as I was opening this wine, based partly on a ridiculously oxidised 2005 white Burgundy I was excited, then disappointed, about last week. This wine’s cork, on extraction, proved to be long and of an apparently high quality. Colour in the glass is beautifully golden, with not a hint of the distressing brown hue that I had feared. So far so good.
What’s really enjoyable about this wine is how it flips between the mineral-driven austerity of tighter Chardonnay styles and the opulence granted it by a hint of residual sugar and botrytis. The palate is grippy and textural, combining with a grapefruit-accented flavour profile to give the impression of pith and pips. So it moves between modes, tight then loose, acid and slight bitterness an intriguing foil to notes of marmalade and richer, riper fruit. If there’s something missing here, it relates to intensity of both aroma and flavour. This isn’t a blockbuster as its 14% ABV and slightly hot finish might suggest. Instead, the wine’s demeanour is laid back, and I suspect what it loses in impact it makes up for in food friendliness.
Cleverly made and provocative in style. Given its freshness, I might taste this again in a few years’ time.
Domaine de la Bongran
Price: $35 (ish)
A slightly older white Burgundy this time, which will hopefully come as a relief after a slew of younger siblings. As an aside, at Full Pour we taste wines in a “real world” context as much as possible, which often means a single bottle at a time, often sipped slowly all evening. This serves to highlight the role of variety in enjoyment. A self-confessed addict of difference, I find working my way through a series of similar wines both highly revealing and slightly boring at the same time. Still, there are worse things I could do…
Pretty golden hay colour, good clarity. A really seductive nose, with rich almond, grapefruit, butter, and some clear botrytis influence. It’s a wine that reaches out of the glass and sucks you in without resorting to excess vulgarity — sort of like the difference between someone with a magnetic personality versus someone who is just loud. There are also hints of roast nut and spice that add complexity to the aroma profile. The palate delivers solidly on the nose. Entry is slippery-slidey, without any acidic harshness and yet showing freshness and vitality. Rich, round fruit builds on the tongue towards the middle palate, just as some acid structure starts to tingle on the edges of the tongue. Despite the freshness, this is a relaxed, generous wine that you don’t have to work especially hard to enjoy. A lot of this is to do with the ultra silky mouthfeel that balances slipperiness with acidity most satisfyingly. More citrus fruit and hints of sweet honey coat the tongue. The savoury nut/oak observed on the nose props up the fruit flavour in balanced fashion. If it’s not quite as complex as the nose suggests, this is easily compensated by the smooth, easy elegance of this wine. A nutty lift through the after palate keeps on rising through a very satisfying, flavoursome finish. Yum!
I’m tempted to say this wine lacks a certain sophistication, but that’s not quite right. It’s breezy yet substantial, and echoes a sense of generous provincial hospitality. Its mix of fresh and ultra-ripe notes is, I find, beguiling. Delicious, bloody good value, and quite different from all the other white Burgundies recently tasted.
Domaine Emilian Gillet
Date tasted: June 2008