Guide to the Loire regions

Saint-Pourçain

Grower Profiles


Maison des Vignes - Chantelle

Domaine de la Chênaie
Jean Bonnet was an engineer by trade, but on his retirement in 1991 he and his wife embarked on a venture to establish their own domaine. With no viticultural experience Jean, then 69 years old, signed up to attend a pruning and winemaking course in Dijon .

With just 2.5 hectares, planted in the communes of Chantelle and Fourilles, Domaine de la Chênaie is the smallest (and southern-most) independent producer in the appellation and whilst both Jean and his wife are now well into their 80s, they are still much involved and happy to receive visitors, many of them loyal customers from the Low Countries, in their house-cum-tasting room. What help they do get comes at the weekend with their son, who otherwise has a day job during the week. 

The original plantings of 7.5 ares each of Pinot Noir and Gamay, 6 ares of Chardonnay and 2 ares of Sauvignon remain unchanged, with the couple admitting to having next to no Tressallier planted. The four wines they produce are vinified in a purpose build warehouse on the edge of their large garden, with all the grapes being hand harvested – the couple stating that they like to make the picking a event for friends, family and customers to get involved with.

The white wine is an almost equal blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, whilst the red represents the equal ration of the Gamay and Pinot Noir they have planted. There is a tiny amount of rosé, and the couple are justifiably proud of the little Chardonnay-based sparkling wine they sell which is made for them by Maison Clair in Renaison in the Côte Roannaise.

It is as much a pleasure to sit and talk to Jean as it is to taste his wines. He’s chatty, open and very down to earth, and the wines are perfectly acceptable, even if there is nothing really to get excited about. One wonders how long they can continue, or what the future holds for the time when Jean decides to enter retirements for the second time.   

Jean Bonnet
Domaine de la Chênaie
Rue du Champ-Martin
Chantelle
T/F : + 33 4 70 56 64 65

 

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