How far back into French history must we look to understand the origins of Bonnet-Huteau and its vineyards? I would suggest the 5th century, and a time when Brittany began to emerge as an independent kingdom, established by Romano-Britons who inhabited what is today Wales, south-west England, Brittany and coastal Galicia. As the region grew in power and influence so did its noblemen. One such figure was Hoël II (c.1031 – 1084), Comte de Cornouaille, Cornouaille being a region of Brittany the name of which was analogous to England’s Cornwall, also part of this same kingdom. Hoël was a relatively minor nobleman who married Havoise, daughter of Alan III, Duke of Brittany, sometime around 1058. As a consequence of this union Hoël, by the process of jure exoris, took ownership of all his wife’s possessions and titles, which included in Havoise’s case Duchess of Brittany; the young count was thus elevated to the rank of duke.


A man of such noble standing requires a residence befitting his status, and Hoël and Havoise settled at Levraudière, about 20 kilometres east of modern-day Nantes. Here among other buildings they erected a small chapel which was known, appropriately enough, as the Capelle Hoëlini. Today Hoël and Havoise are mere footnotes in the history of France, with very little known about them or their lives. But Hoël’s name, at least, lives on; Capelle Hoëlini is the origin of the name of La Chapelle-Heulin, one of several key communes eligible for the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine appellation. And the feudal seat where they once resided, at La Levraudière, is today better known as the home of vignerons Bonnet-Huteau.

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