This week I had the chance to interview one of Pommard’s and indeed Burgundy’s most reputed estate owner – Jean-Louis Moissenet Bonnard.
He looks back on 25 years of running his estate, his daughter’s influence as the new wine maker and other passionate topics.
“It was in 1988 that I first officially stepped into the wine-making world. My grandparents, Mr & Mrs Lamarche in Vosne-Romanée were congratulated by some estate owners on the way that their grandson (in other words me) looked after a plot called “Les Pézerolles” at the weekends. They then offered me the chance of taking over the part of the estate in Pommard which was actually being rented out.
This caused a slight dilemma as my father-in-law offered me the chance of taking over the running of his fruit and vegetable business. The chance of running a wine estate was too good to miss, so Christine (my wife) and I decided to take on the reconstruction of the estate. Planting and renovation took the best part of 10 years. Then followed the purchases, renovation and standardizing of the winery as well as the acquistion of wine-making materials, the renovation of the cellars and the building of a tasting room.
The first official bottle of the new “Moissenet Bonnard” estate was in 1995. Over those years, people who knew me, saw my hair turn white – a sign of maturity? – but also linked to my incessant research into the quintessential Pommard “terroir”. In 2005 I acquired vineyards in Meursault and Auxey Duresses.
Emmanuelle-Sophie, my daughter.
After obtaining her Baccalaureat, Emmanuelle-Sophie joined the wine university in Beaune where she studied the science of the vine. She then took her Masters in Science Technology, Environment and Health, specializing in the vine and the terroir. After doing research in the Agricultural Engineers School in Changin, Switzerland and teaching in the wine schools in Alsace and Burgundy, she joined the family wine estate in 2012…at the tender age of 27.
Despite having me looking over her shoulder, Emmanuelle-Sophie is showing promising signs of being an excellent wine maker!!”
His current favourite estate wine…
“In the French wine Bible – The Hachette Guide 2014″ I mentioned my preference for the Pézerolles 2011. This wine was born on a plot where chick peas were once cultivated, before the Brunet family started planting vines in 1700. Here the vines aged about 55 years give a serious wine with a spicy, balsamic nose. In the mouth it’s full square, structured with solid tannins which ensure an excellent evolution over the next 3 to 5 years.”
Disaster on 23 July 2013…
“It was at 3.30pm that a severe hail storm wrecked havoc, destroying everything in its path. Wind of 50 mph and hail stones the size of marbles rained down on the vineyards for 25 long minutes. Panic, desolation…for a second year in a row, over 60% of our future harvest destroyed! After the initial shock and sadness…you can only roll-up your sleeves, take stock of the dammage and try and heal the wounds on the vines (leaves, grapes and wood) as well as those of our morale, which could be compared to being made redundant without warning!!”
Always supply and demand problems…
“We have been blighted with bad weather and disease for the last 4 harvests. These have been particularly bad in 2012 & 2013. This comes at a bad time when more and more people are wanting to buy Burgundy wines. We need an excellent 2014 & 2015 vintage to help us replenish our stocks…otherwise…”
Pommard obtaining Grand Cru status…
“As President of the Pommard Vintners Association, I am spear-heading our bid to get 2 of our famous vineyards – Les Epenots and Les Rugiens – promotion to Grand Cru status. This can take up to 10 years, with many tests and sampling from regional and national wine professionals. It’s all based on Terroir, and no one can deny the quality of the terroir in these two vineyards for the last few decades.
Could we fail? Well, yes. But the danger lies closer than you think. The lobbying against our bid comes from our neighboours – both from the Grand Cru owners in the Côtes de Nuits and from the Negociants. But we strongly believe that our quest will prevail.”
Thoughts on the 2013 vintage?
“After a shy Springtime, where the bud bust was delayed, May took on a more promising aspect before the weather slid backwards and a chaotic cold period set in. Things looked brighter until the famous hailstorm on 23rd July. August we did our best to save what remained and we were helped slightly by the good weather.
Result: a small harvest in Pommard reflecting spice and blackcurrant notes. Meursault and Auxey Duresses had more success and show citrus and pear notes. Our new plots Beaune whites and reds, give aromas of peach and gooseberry. I’m sure you’ll love this vintage”
Jean-Louis Moissenet-Bonnard – January 2014