The vines here enjoy a sunny position, growing on slopes on the south bank of the River Vienne. This natural ripeness is countered by the structure given by limestone soils, a cool minerality, which adds lift and freshness to the generous fruit of the wines. Fermentation is slow, with natural yeasts, before 6 months ageing in tank to capture the wines wonderfully expressive red fruits.
About the Domaine
Over a thousand years ago the inhabitants of Chinon needed stone. Lots of stone. They had plans, a grand château, fortifications to protect their homes, monuments to their heroes. The material they needed was on hand, all they had to do was dig, and dig they did, leaving tremendous caves cut into the rock that lies beneath their town. These caves, cool, dark and damp, have long found a purpose as wine cellars. In one such cellar we find Marc Plouzeau and the terrific wines of Château de la Bonnelière.
Marc’s extended family have owned Château de la Bonnelière since 1846, but it wasn’t until his father took over the property in 1979 that it returned completely to its historic purpose: wine. Marc took over in 1999 and continued his father’s work, converting the domaine to organic viticulture and buying parcels of land in Chinon’s best sites. He produces a large range of wines, white, red rose and sparkling, but it his single soil and single parcel wines which I found most exciting.
Marc grows two varieties, Chenin Blanc in white, Cabernet Franc in red. He farms three basic soil types, doing everything by hand and working entirely organically. Fascinated by his land and the distinct stamp it imparts to his wines, he feels that only by working in this way can one expect to see each site’s character.