This domaine was founded in 1956 by its namesake, André Bonhomme, who began with just four hectares he’d acquired from his father. He went on to become one of Burgundy’s most respected wine figures and was instrumental in the creation of the Viré-Clessé appellation.
The domaine is now run by his daughter amd son-in-law, Jacqueline and Eric, and they were joined by their own sons, Aurélien and Johann, after both completed oenology qualifications in recent years. Aurélien now makes the wines.
The vineyard has expanded to 12 hectares, which are planted not far from the river Saône, on the clay-limestone soils that are so common in Viré-Clessé. 98% of the vines are given over to chardonnay grapes, but there is also a little gamay for the domaine’s red wine production, and some of the vines are over a century old. The team is always keen to follow sustainable viticulture where possible, and grapes are always hand-harvested, with rigorous bunch selection to ensure only the best fruit is selected.
What has always set Bonhomme’s wines apart, compared to most wines of the region, is that in youth they are quite firm and backward, and are wines that blossom with a little bottle age. André always was careful to watch the pH of his grapes and always pick with lower pHs and higher acidity than many in the region. His grandson Aurélien continues this practice. Alcohol is therefore about 13%. The other great marker is the low yields. These wines have a natural concentration most wines of the region do not have. Vinification occurs in a mixture of oak barrels and temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks, depending on the cuvée, with as much attention to individual vineyard plots as possible.
Three cuvées are made (we usually buy Cuveé Spéciale and Vieilles Vignes), all bearing the same main label, with the cuvée name differentiated on the neck label.
Tradition is made from yields of about 50 hl/ha, from vines aged below 30 years old, and kept for 18 months in tanks on their fine lees.
Cuvée Spéciale is made from yields of about 45 hl/ha, from vines aged 30-55 years old, about 70% is matured in tanks, and 30% in wooden barrels, none of which are new. This is best enjoyed four-eight years after bottling.
Vieilles Vignes is made in very small quantities from yields of 35 hl/ha, and comes from 55-95 year old vines, matured 30% in tank and 70% in barrels, of which 20% is new. This is best enjoyed six-ten years after bottling.
Some very special single-vineyard bottlings are made from Viré Clessé Les Prêtres de Quintaine, aged over 100 years old: Viré Clessé Le Côteau de l'Epinet, planted in 1919, and Viré Clessé Les Hauts de Ménards, planted in 1926.