The incredibly generous Olivier Bonville runs this lovely house in Avize working with 15 hectares. Mainly in Avize (12ha) but with small lots in Oger (1.5ha), Mesnil sur Oger (1.5ha) and Cramant (a few ares on the border between Cramant and Oiry).
On my last visit we spoke at length about organic and biodynamic production. He uses no pesticides. Like many producers he recognises the benefits (both moral and physical) and has started ploughing every plot. The idea being that this will force vines to grow vertically and thus allow his plants to thrive when times are tough (due to deep roots). This however does take time. He is looking to reduce treatments on the vines within the next ten years.
In the winery nothing out of the ordinary is practiced. Malolactic is done on all cuvees. Oak is only used for his Prestige Cuvee, Les Belles Voyes.
He produces a wonderfully creamy, round and fresh style with this delightful bitter apricot note (a little more bitter than most in Avize) that you can get throughout his range and distinguishes his vintage wines beautifully (in a recent blind 1999 tasting it stood out brilliantly).
His range has a nice linear simplicity to it. Everything is in place.
The Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut is made from Avize and three years. Tropical, dried apricot. It is crisp, clean and has a surprising creaminess. A delightful wake up call!
The Brut adds a touch of Oger to the blend and with it a bit more fleshyness. The dried apricot note is a lot sweeter especially on the finish.
The vines of Ambonnay are scoured to produce his Rose and blended with Avize (he is able to trade/buy up to 5% of his production as an RM). I really enjoyed the creamy weight on the palate and that lovely redcurrant and strawberry fruit.
Things are stepped up a notch with his Prestige Brut Blanc de Blancs. Made from two years and only Avize it shows much more oomph on the nose, tension on the palate and bite on the finish.
I have had little experience of Olivier’s Millesime, perhaps only a handful of years, but whenever I do it shows a lovely opulent and round style. Those orange and bitter apricot notes show perfectly. I really look forward to trying some wines with some secondary and even tertiary notes as I think these will balance brilliantly together. The 1999 mentioned above was too fresh, it hadn’t even started it secondary phase!
As I have mentioned in other profiles I do consider the Prestige Cuvee to be the culmination of all that a producer can create. The pinnacle of expression of his or her style. Les Belles Voyes seems a touch of the perpendicular for me. A single vineyard (a good start), in Oger (okay that’s a bit odd for him), vinified in oak (lovely but completely different to every other wine). Don’t get me wrong the wine is good. Very good for an Oger (not my favourite village). Always made from a single year (although not labelled) it is a delightfully pure and surprisingly focused wine. There is a sizable chunk of oak that is never overpowering. His oldest barrels are 12 years old from Meursault which have seen 2 harvests. There is some zest and brightness to the midpalate and an impressive minerality to the finish.
On my last visit Olivier unveiled 3 new monocru wines from Avize, Oger and Mesnil sur Oger. These will be a fantastic opportunity to investigate the style of Franck Bonville across his terroirs, to see how the DNA follows through. Made from a single year, vinified in steel. I can’t wait for their release in the next few years. I am holding out for his ultimate expression of Avize!
Region: La Cote des Blancs
Contact: Olivier Bonville
Cuvée De Prestige: Les Belles Voyes
Bottles produced: 120000
Style: Round, fresh, bitter fruit
Terroir: Avize, Oger, Mesnil sur Oger, Cramant.
Vinification: No oak except prestige cuvee. Malolactic throughout.
Viticulture: No pesticides. Ploughs every plot
Recent Tasting Notes from Franck Bonville
Franck Bonville Les Belles Voyes Brut 2008
Tasted:April 15, 2014
Much more flesh. Rich aromatic. Stern green apple notes. Saline. Malolactic barrels. Lovely balance on the palate.read more…
Base Vintage: 2008