runo Jeandeau is in his cellar. With a smile he says:
– I am the first Burgundian.
Then the smile disappears from his face. He adds:
– But then again, if you come from the opposite direction I am the last.
This is Leynes, about as far south as you can get in Burgundy, not counting the Beaujolais. Bruno Jeandeau and his wife Nadine have been running Domaine Jeandeau here since the 1990's. The little village of Leynes is part of the Saint-Véran appellation in the southwestern corner of the Sâone et Loire departement. Here the Beaujolais Villages appellation spills over into the Mâconnais.
Nadine and Bruno Jeandeau's place, the Prieuré de Bois de Leynes, is located a couple of kilometres outside Leynes itself, just below the Bois de Leynes. Today the domaine covers a total of ten hectares, of which one third is Pouilly-Fuissé appellation and one third is red Beaujolais Villages. The remaining third consists of Saint Véran, Mâcon-Fuissé and white Beaujolais Village. In addition to the wine production they also have a few chambres d'hôtes.
– At this point we don't want the domaine to grow anymore, says Nadine Jeandeau. Instead we would like to reduce the size in order to be able to do a better job with the vineyards we have. This year we sold one of the parcels of Saint-Véran we planted.
Bruno Jeandeau, born and raised in Fuissé and in Vinzelles, comes from a winegrowing family. His grandfather George "Jojo" Giroux become the owner of some vineyards, which he passed on to his children on a sharecropping basis. Marie France Jeandeau, the mother of Bruno, in her turn, gave the one hectare of vines to her son in 1990.
From that single hectare of vines Domaine Jeandeau began to grow. Between 1990 and 1997 a lot of vines were planted in both Saint-Véran and in Mâcon-Fuissé. In 1997 Bruno was joined by Nadine. And in 2005 some of the Beaujolais Village land was replanted. The gamay vines were uprooted to give room for the chardonnay.
– I love the diversity of this profession, says Bruno Jeandeau. Working the soil, taking care of the vines and making the wine. It's like a birth process. Every vintage is different. Sharing our passion with our clients. Questioning our practices all the time. Having this contact with the people that inspire us and let us progress.
The annual production is between 450 and 500 hectolitres. Part of it goes into bottle at the domaine; about 20 000 bottles. The rest is sold to négociants.
The Saint-Véran appellation obviously takes its name from the village of Saint-Vérand, but it is not limited to one commune. It covers a total of 679.71 hectares over six communes – Davayé, Prissé, Chânes, Chasselas, Leynes and Saint Vérand. The appellation forms two separate blocks, one of each side of the Pouilly-Fuissé appellation that stretches throughout the communes of Chaintré, Fuissé, Solutré- Pouilly and Vergisson – one to the north of consisting of Davayé and Prissé, and one to the south consisting of Chânes, Chasselas, Leynes and Saint-Vérand.
– For the Saint-Véran appellation the terroir is of great importance, says Nadine Jeandeau. Because between one hill and another, and depending on the slope, there really are some differences.
– We used to have two parcels of Saint-Véran in Chasselas, one hectare each, says Bruno Jeandeau. Compared to the neighbouring appellations the Saint-Véran is more mineral thanks to the bedrock and marl.
Driving around the vineyards here the crisis for Beaujolais quickly becomes apparent. You often see vines that are not being tended anymore. Grass and bushes are slowly taking over. Today the price per hectare for Beaujolais-Villages land is only one fifth of the price for Saint-Véran.
– It is still difficult to sell Beaujolais, says Bruno Jeandeau. Media has done a lot of damage by only talking about the Beaujolais Nouveau and not enough about the Beaujolais crus, which the small producers always have made with great passion and care. But it is our job to inform people and to inspire them to taste these wines made in small quantities. These are wines made respecting the traditions, but keeping up with the developments in modern winemaking.
Despite this Nadine and Bruno Jeandeau are optimistic. In the past years there has been changes for the better here.
– Being here in the very south of Burgundy we haven't got the prestige of the Côte d'Or, but the mindset has changed for the better, explains Nadine Jeandeau. The Tourism Committee understands that with our vineyards we have a great potential and the number of reception facilities here has increased. This was not the case at my arrival in 1997.
The wine list of Domaine Jeandeau holds a peculiarity. At the bottom of the list you'll find a wine labelled as Attention Surprise, a sparkling red wine made in small quantities.
– We wanted to make something unusual, says Bruno Jeandeau. We don't like to do what everybody else is doing. The rosé, you find it everywhere. We wanted to try with a base wine made the usual way, a Beaujolais, and through the méthode traditionnelle create a nice sparkling wine with aromas of red fruits and a dry finish on the palate. It has been a success. We started with very small quantities and we are still increasing.
© 2011 Ola Bergman