Le Domaine Bordenave

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Giselle Bordenave manages the family vineyard which has been handed down from father to son to daughter since 1676.

How she manages to balance the Vineyards, her husband, three children, two dogs and her now aged parents, I do not know. When one visits it’s a whirlwind of questions and interruptions from the family but one is not frustrated despite the long journey to see her, as they represent an everyday farming family working the land to the best of their abilities. Giselle is trying to learn some English she tells me! She is, in my opinion, a true artisan and exceptional winemaker. Producing some of the best Grand Cuvees de Jurancon.  

The feminine touch

For some hereditary reason I’ve noted there is a greater proportion of female winemakers than in other areas. For Jurancon wines this is probably a good thing as what the wines of the Juarncon are noted for are their finesse and a deft touch. There are no red wines from the region which is an extremely old center of wine production. The earliest viticulture transaction in the region is noted in 988 some 800 years before Bordeaux and the wine has been used to anoint a future King of France at birth.

Most winemakers make 3 to 4 varieties of sweet wine each year and 1-2 whites. Giselle, when she returned from being Bordeaux trained was no exception. Her wines were just sold locally and from the Domaine when we first met in 2008. But three years previously, against the odds,  she had had a breakthrough. When the Head Chef from the Hotel de Paris had been recommended to go see her. So taken with her wines was he that he bought over 1,200 bottles for his restaurant in Paris and “spread the word”.

The ascent

Within just three short years, Giselle’s wines were gracing the wine lists of many famous restauranteurs in France including those of Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenee George V, the best hotel in Paris, Guy Savoy, Michel Rostang, Paul Bocuse, and Michel Guerard.

She continues to eschew the local supermarkets and has only since 2018 attended any wine fairs, taking just a humble table and chair at Vinexpo in Bordeaux, which coincidentally where last I saw her. Her wines continue to be superb and, somehow I doubt that will ever change.

The Petit Manseng is a regal grape for its role in producing some of the greatest sweet and dry white wines in the world