Franz-Ludwig Gondard at Domaine Gondard-Perrin, Viré, Burgundy.

he family has been present as winegrowers in Viré since the end of the 17th century. But it wasn’t until recently that Domaine Gondard-Perrin was created. In 2008 they left the local cooperative and in 2015 Franz-Ludwig Gondard arrived at the domaine.

– As the cooperative grew in size my father had begun feeling less at home, says Franz-Ludwig Gondard. When I started at wine school I told my parents I would like to come back to the domaine, but that I wanted to make wine instead of just delivering grapes to the cooperative. So the decision to leave was something that my parents and I arrived at over time.

You’ll find Domaine Gondard-Perrin along the main road in Viré. This is the northern half of the Viré-Clessé appellation in the Mâconnais. The appellation it self is relatively young. It was created in 1999 and has today 437 hectares under vines.

Clos de Chapotin, Viré, Burgundy.With the exception of the sweet Caprice d’Automne, a Mâcon rosé and a crémant de Bourgogne the wine portfolio at Domaine Gondard-Perrin is entirely made up of Viré-Clessé. Of the domaine’s 17.5 hectares more than 15 are Viré-Clessé.

– When my parents left the cooperative they had eleven and a half hectares, says Franz-Ludwig Gondard. We have been growing slowly, but when I arrived I had the chance to take on part, almost four hectares, of another domaine which was closing down.

Today’s ten different bottlings of Viré-Clessé at Domaine Gondard-Perrin is the result of Franz-Ludwig Gondard’s curiosity. Back in 2008 his parents only made two cuvées.

Viré, Burgundy.– I went to wine school in Beaune, where separating the different parcels for vinification is very common. It was something that interested both me and my parents. It makes things a little more complicated when it comes to management of the winery. With many small cuvées it takes on the character of a grocer's shop.

In this part of Burgundy single vineyard bottlings are far less common than in the Côte d’Or. They do exist, but not to the same extent. Domaine Gondard-Perrin starts off with two blends – Symphonie and Cuvée Tradition – but then they are off with the lieux-dits – Mâsure, Le Belvédère, La Foretille, Aux Quarts, En Fontenay, Aux Mares, Brechen and Clos de Chapotin. You’ll find all these plots in the commune of Viré. In many cases these are neighbouring lieux-dits.

– When you are working like this you really need to know the parcels, says Franz-Ludwig Gondard. But when you’re young, like me, you don’t have all that knowledge. You need to know how to treat each parcel, know its character. Luckily my father was involved in the zoning work when the Viré-Clessé appellation was created. That has been very helpful when we have been working with the different cuvées.

Franz-Ludwig Gondard at Domaine Gondard-Perrin, Viré, Burgundy.As mentioned, Symphonie is a blend. It is the same blend every year, mainly from parcels at the southern end of the commune of Viré. The backbone of the cuvée is the parcel in Les Chailloux.

– After Les Chailloux you arrive in Clessé. For this wine there is 18 months of élevage. All stainless steel tanks. I would say that 98 or 99 per cent of all our vineyards are in Viré. We have two parcels in Clessé, in the hamlet of Quintaine.

The other Viré-Clessé blend of the domaine, the Cuvée Tradition, was the first cuvée Franz-Ludwig Gondard’s parents produced when they had left the cooperative. It is a blend of the four best parcels they had at the time.

Domaine Gondard-Perrin, Viré, Burgundy.– If you go up behind the church in Viré you have them all lined up there, says Franz-Ludwig Gondard. En Fontenay, En Pommetin, La Foretille and Brechen. Three of these we have also have as separate cuvées. Élevage for this one is 19 month, in stainless steel tanks.

Le Belvédère is the only single vineyard bottling which doesn’t use the name of the lieu-dit on the label. It comes from La Plaine (the plains) which is a steep vineyard at the top of the slope. In order to avoid confusion Le Belvédère is used instead.

– It is the highest point of the appellation and there is lots of limestone, explains Franz-Ludwig Gondard. Try to explain to people that you have a quality wine called La Plaine. No. It doesn’t work. So we used the name of the small road just below, la Route du Belvédère.

La Foretille is further down the slope. The soil is classic Burgundian. Half clay, half limestone. Not particularly deep. Franz-Ludwig Gondard thinks its character is very useful when blended in the Cuvée Tradition. It creates more of a balance together with parcels with more power. As a separate cuvée La Foretille is all about finesse and elegance.

Franz-Ludwig Gondard at Domaine Gondard-Perrin, Viré, Burgundy.The vines at Domaine Gondard-Perrin have in many cases reached a respectable age. There are vines older than 100 years as well as vines planted just a few years ago. The average age at the domaine is 55-60 years.

– Our old vines Mâsure comes from a parcel which was planted in 1928. That is around the same time as when the cooperative was founded. Compared with Le Belvédère this is the opposite in terms of soil. In Mâsure you have 80 percent clay and 20 per cent limestone. The roots of the vines go very deep. This wine is quite big and generous, with a touch of minerality.

The wines mentioned this far are all made in stainless steel tanks. Starting with Aux Quarts the vinification is in barrels. The soil in Aux Quarts contains iron oxide, giving it a reddish colour.

– The Viré-Clessé appellation only allows chardonnay, says Franz-Ludwig Gondard. But the red soil in Aux Quarts could potentially be used for pinot noir. As we say around here. White soil is for white wine and red soil is for red wine. In certain places you can produce god white wine on red soil, but the opposite is almost impossible.

Viré, Burgundy.Aux Mares was singled out as a separate cuvée in 2011. Even if it is at the bottom of the slope there is very little soil, just 30 centimetres. If there one day were to be any premier crus in Viré-Clessé Franz-Ludwig Gondard thinks this would be a serious contender.

– Brechen is right next to Aux Quarts, he continues. There is only a small road that separates them. In Brechen you have none of the iron oxide which is present in Aux Quarts. There is a forest just above Brechen, making it slightly cooler there. At the same time this is a vineyard which sees a lot of sun. It is a wine which has a lot of volume. It’s more expressive than Aux Quarts. Élevage is 22 months in barrel. It’s a wine which has the same spirit as Meursault from the 1980s. Fat and complex.

Clos de Chapotin is basically in the garden of Domaine Gondard-Perrin. It is next to the old vines parcel of Mâsure. As the name suggests it is surrounded by walls and covers 0.48 ha.

– It’s just the wall that separates them. A metre and a half. That’s all. I wouldn’t say the two wines are diametrically different, but they are definitely different. Clos de Chapotin is a monopole and it is where we always finish the harvest. It’s perhaps less immediate than some of our other cuvées, but it shows the side of the chardonnay which is filled with exotic fruits. A very nice wine to keep.

Sweet wines in Burgundy are rare. Not much is produced, but the majority of what is produced is made in this part of the region. At Domaine Gondard-Perrin it is called Caprice d’Automne and in terms of appellation it is a Vin de France.

– It’s a vendanges tardives, like they do in Alsace. Since it is a Vin de France we can’t put the vintage on the label. Or the word domaine for that matter. It’s vinified for 30 months in tank. You have this botrytised character, the noble rot. This style of wine is special for the area. Whenever it is possible to produce it we do.

© 2022 Ola Bergman