Château de Bonnezeaux, 2020 Update
The combination of schist and Chenin Blanc appears to me to be a match made in heaven. Add a third layer of complexity from botrytis and the resulting wines can reach unparalleled levels of interest and quality. The three little hills which sit above the town of Thouarcé and which form the heart of the Bonnezeaux appellation bring all three together, producing a distinctive style of sweet wine. As many vignerons have realised, however, cut out the botrytis and these slopes are also ideal for making dry wines, the variety translating the character of the terroir sometimes with a breathtaking sense of purity. It is a route taken by some in the region who wish to avoid the sulphite additions so commonly employed when making wines with higher levels of residual sugar.
This has been the path taken by Guyonne Saclier de la Bâtie and Louis de Bouëxic de Pinieux, who are bringing the vineyards of the historic Château de Bonnezeaux back to life. La Montagne, long associated with the château, was replanted in 2012 and their first vintage was 2016. They also purchased another nearby parcel, Fief Prévost, rich in old vines, from a neighbour. Sadly I seem to have missed their inaugural vintage, but last year I reported on the 2017 vintage, which yielded wines which were vibrant and full of flavour. Earlier this year I tasted the 2018 vintage, which has yielded some very particular wines.