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France_Loire_Bonnezeaux

Bonnezeaux has to be one of the most underappreciated sweet wine regions in the world. The quality is generally very high across the board and they can age for decades. 

It is located within the enclave of the Coteaux de Layon and is bigger than its more famous northwest neighbor Quarts de Chaume. Like Quarts de Chaume, Chenin Blanc is the only grape allowed in Bonnezeaux. It is quite larger than the Quarts de Chaume which can maybe explain the lack of general interest from wine lovers. A wine lover almost always prefers Quarts de Chaume over Bonnezeaux, for what reason I am not sure but probably has to do with somewhat spotty quality due to the large amount of producers. There has been a great expansion in Bonnezeaux since 1979 when it was 38 ha. Now it is around 80 ha. A big step-up.

Bonnezeaux is an enclave that takes up three hills (La Montagne, Beauregard and des Fesles) with the main soil being a schist mix.  Noble rot (botrytis) affects these grapes at harvest time and as a result yields are very low and the production is limited due to the "style" of the wine. You cannot make Bonnezeaux with high yields and non-botrytis grapes. It would be Anjou Blanc. 

This wine is usually intensely sweet, with huge botrytis flavors, licorice and tropical fruits,  but still remains a lovely green-gold color, even after 10-20 years of age. 

A word must be said about natural wine and organic/biodynamic pioneer Marc Angeli's (La Ferme de la Sansonniere) ethereal Bonnezeaux. For my palate it is the best of the appellation even though he has only been around since 1990. He started out making this wine but it has become extremely rare in recent years as he has eschewed his beloved sweet wines and makes very dry Bonnezeaux, which are simply labeled Anjou Blanc, but are anything but simple. Truly a pioneer in a unheralded zone.

People love Rene Renou and consider him the quality leader of the appellation, but I have never liked his wines as I find them cloying and lacking depth.

The wines typically retail between $40 and $75 a bottle.

Notable Recent Vintages: 2010, 2009, 2005, 2002, 1997, 1995, 1990, 1989

Top Producers (in no particular order) include:
  • Marc Angeli (La Ferme de Sansonniere) 
  • Chateau de Fesles
  • Godineau
  • Domaine de Petit Quarts
  • Domaine du Petit Val
  • Chateau la Variere
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