Guide to the Loire regions

Côtes d'Auvergne

Grower Profiles

The Bonjean lava-hewn cellar

Domaine Bonjean
In 1754 there were 852 vineyard proprietors in Blanzat, each owning an average between 70 oeuvres (about 500m of vines) and 100 oeuvres. Today there remains only one. The Bonjeans are relatively rare in the region in that they are dedicated vignerons, although until 1989, the same year as Michel joined his father, their enterprise was split equally between vineyards and orchards. In 1986, Michel joined forces with his father in law, François Verdier and for a while, the Domaine shared the hyphenated name. In 2003, Michel’s son, Stéphane, completed his studies in Beaune and returned to Blanzat representing the 7th generation of Bonjeans to have made wine in these cellars. His time in Burgundy can clearly be seen in the styles of wine being made here, and he counts many of the up and coming young vignerons of the Côte d’Or as his friends.

The domaine works 5.5 hectares of vines - half owned, half rented – across the communes of Blanzat, Cébezat, Sayat and Châteaugay, with the red wines vinified according to their specific soil types, blending Gamay from Blanzat and Sayat grown on basalt to produce a generic Côte d’Auvergne, whilst another comes from the clay-limestone soils in Blanzat and Cébezat. The vineyards in the cru vineyards of Châteaugay are grown on pépérite soils and vinified apart, the range here including a rosé and three separate red wines, the first a assemblage of 75/25% Gamay/Pinot Noir, the second, Brin d’Amour, sees equal proportions of the same grape, and Cuvée Elisa, which comes from a parcel of Gamay that’s over 100 years old.  Their Châteaugay Blanc, from ten year old Chardonnay planted on limestone, is fermented and aged, Burgundy style, in new French oak and is one of the best white wines produced in the region. The Bonjeans have also established some Syrah on the old terraces above Châteaugay and, finally, as a curiosity, they also make a little Vin de Paille.

All the grapes are hand harvested, using 30 pickers, who triage in the vines as well as in the cellar, a new facility within the village that was built, in 2000, on top of an ancient underground cave hewn out of the volcanic lava. The Bonjeans have seven such caves around the village which they use to store their wines.

Given that the Bonjeans sole occupation is with the vine means that it comes as no surprise to state that these are some of the best wines produced in the region, with a style and quality that sets them apart. The time spent in Burgundy, both at college and with his peers in the cellars there, has ensured young Stéphane has a clear vision of what he is trying to achieve going forward.

Stéphane Bonjean
GEAC Bonjean
12 Rue de la Tour
T: + 33 4 73 87 90 50
F: + 33 4 73 87 62 59

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