Bonhomme Vire Clesse Les Pierres Blanches 2017
Occasionally, I get to stock this bottle of White Burgundy (every three years seems to be my allocation rotation) and when I do, I practically drink Wisconsin’s entire share myself.
Frankly, it’s so soul-satisfying, so savory yet lithe, so powerfully flavored yet elegant, that it never bores me, even if I drank it last night (and the night before, and the night before that, and, okay, the Saturday evening before that … ). It personifies what I love about “the best” of White Burgundy – always delicious, never boring. And frankly, at this price, I can drink it whenever, wherever, and with whomever I want!
I got a larger allocation of it this year.
So … some of you have had this bottle before. Purchase with confidence and reckless abandon! 2017 is a great year for Burgundy, and this bottle leaves no doubt about it. The wine is through-and-through scrumptious white Burgundy – it greets the nose with white peach, quince, honeysuckle, Earl Grey tea and Asian pear. Vibrant on the palate yet also of a luxurious texture and richness. It’s impressive in its mouth-coating richness, yet it doesn’t lack for a mineral “crunchiness” on the back of the palate. You should back up the car – it’s delicious now but—a shock to some (see below)—it will age for 20 years or more!
For those of you who haven’t had this wine before, I’ll turn the rest of the email over to Charles Neal, the importer, a man whom I very much respect and who knows the domaine much more intimately than I:
“This humble domaine was founded in 1956 by André Bonhomme. Back then, Andre’s father Joseph owned four hectares of vines that were sold under the Mâcon-Viré appellation. Through careful vine growing and vinification, André received enormous respect from his colleagues. He was not only the co-founder of the Independent Winemakers of the Saône-et-Loire; he also was one of the principal initiators of the new Viré-Clessé appellation in the 1990s.
“Some might say that wines from the Mâconnais don’t age, but during one of our visits to the Domaine in May, Aurélien opened a bottle of 1995 that showed beautifully with no hint of oxidation or lack of fruit. Aurélien gave us a different dusty bottle to taste later during the trip. I told him I would email him after tasting it with my colleagues and relay to him our guesses as to what it was.
“A couple nights later while in Savoie with my traveling companions, I popped the bottle at our hotel. We were all blown away by how much exotic fruit showed, still buttressed by lively acids. Our guesses: 1989, 1986, two 1985s and 1981. I e-mailed Aurélien the next day. His response: Nice try, but older. It was actually a Mâcon-Viré 1969.
“These are white wines that taste great on release, but have what it takes to endure. Don’t be afraid to hang on to some bottles. You will be rewarded for your patience.”
There it is, my friends. Enjoy thoroughly, and often!