Now in its tenth generation, proprietor Louis-Philippe Bovard’s family estate in the small lakeside town of Cully, covers eighteen hectares of vine in the communes of Calamin, Dézaley, Epesses, Saint-Saphorin and Aigle (Chablais). Each area is favourably oriented - receiving excellent exposure to sunlight during the summer months, however subtle differences in soil composition and micro-climate between the various vineyard locations are expressed in the nuances of the wines they produce.
The indigenous Chasselas grape is dominant here, accounting for 70% of the vine and yielding excellent wines of substance and complexity, to refute the claim that this variety is neutral! The gradient of the slopes and the narrowness of the terraces necessitate that the grapes are harvested by hand, then crushed and pressed before being transferred into wooden casks where the real magic begins. Bovard’s Chasselas wines (with the notable exception of his ‘Ilex’ - Calamin Grand Cru), undergo malolactic conversion and alcoholic fermentation in oak barrels. The wines are aged on their lees for between eight to ten months, during which time regular racking takes place, then bottled and sold in their thousands to some of the world’s most discerning wine-drinkers. The ‘Ilex’ is vinified differently with no malolactic fermentation to maximise its mineral freshness.
But precious Chasselas is not an only child. Since Louis-Philippe assumed control of the estate in the early 1980s, he has made it his mission to experiment with variety and terroir in search of the perfect marriage. As such other grape varieties have been introduced to the Bovard estate to enrich the offering. Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah have all subsequently found success here with the two red varieties now accounting for 15% of the vine.
Tradition, variety, enrichment and progress seem to be the driving forces behind Bovard’s operation, and the reason why both the proprietor and his estate in this sunny south western corner of Switzerland continue to be at the centre of the country’s viticultural pursuits. Such is Monsieur Bovard’s passion for innovation and experimentation, he has recently (2010) - in collaboration with both cantonal and national wine organisations - set up the ‘Conservatoire Mondial du Chasselas’ - dedicating an area of his vineyard to the conservation of numerous Chasselas varieties in an attempt to determine the wine-making potential of each one.