After a week in the Loire Valley, where we visited Chavignol, Sancerre, Savennière and Chinon, we discovered the places where the terroir expresses wines with an amazing quality. Until phylloxera in 1860’s, the vineyards in Loire valley were mostly producing red wines! I’ll be presenting you some of the producers we had the chance to visit.
We began the visit with the Domaine Vacheron, where we had an amazing visit by Jean-Laurent Vacheron who’s producing wines with his cousin Jean-Dominique. The domaine was established by his grand-mother, Madeleine Vacheron in 1936. After phylloxera, they replanted Sauvignon Blanc. The estate is fully certified organic and biodynamic since 2000, and still, develops his wines to identically copy what his father and grandfather were producing before him. His wines are floral and mineral, and he wishes to adapt his wines to be more comprehensive for the consumer with single-plot cuvees to reveal the terroir of Sancerre.
Pascal Jolivet began as family company created in 1926. At first, Jolivet established themselves as a wine merchant company, dealing and producing wines from fresh grapes purchased by other producers in the region. The brand “Pascal Jolivet” arrived in 1987 to facilitate the development of their own range of wines, and acquired their first vines in 1993. Nowadays, Pascal Jolivet represents 222 acres between Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. It is in biologic reconversion since a little more than a year, without necessarily getting the label. They are exporting 80% of their production to 91 different countries with USA as their biggest fans. Their whites are thermo-regulated, and the reds are aged in wood barrels.
Another producer that caught my attention was Domaine Vincent Delaporte , where Matthieu Delaporte, 29 years old, has 33 hectares of vineyards in Chavignol since he took over the company of his father in 2010. It has been interesting to get to see his wonderful cellar where he told us about his personal goal of his wines being the healthiest ones. He reinforced the selection process of the grapes, sorting them 3 times after a 100% manual harvest (opposing to 90% of the sancerrois, who are picking up the grapes during harvest with machines). If you have the chance to pass by Chavignol, he is definitely THE producer to go visit.
In Savennière, we had the chance to visit the Coulée de Serrant, a property of the Joly family. It constitutes an appellation by itself with only 7 hectares. The vineyards were planted in 1130 by Cistercian monks and constitute nowadays vines ageing from 35 to 80 years.
They were also considered by Louis XI and Louis XIV as one of the best white wines of France, and by Jancis Robinson as « clearly designed to be one of the world’s great vineyards ». The vineyards are cultivated by hand and by horse. The entire domaine is cultivated with the method of biodynamics thanks to Nicolas Joly, who explains that at first, he didn’t knew much about it. He started biodynamic agriculture for quality, and nowadays more for health reasons.
" Progressively, biodynamics became a topic which was tolerated, not more. It’s a matter of a generation."
Still in Savennière, we got to talk to Evelyne de Pontbriand from the Domaine du Closel. She started to tend to her wines 16 years ago, after graduating from the OIV MSc! The Domaine du Closel is located at the Chateau des Vaults, in the Grand Cru of the Loire Valley. She decided to work on organic and biodynamic wines by respecting and preserving the natural cycles in the ecosystem. She even created the idea of beers aged in wine barrels that are going to be released soon!
Afterwards, once in Bourgueil, we visited the Domaine de la Chevalerie, a familial vineyard since 1640 on the AOC Bourgueil. They have 100% Cabernet Franc and sell 20% to the export market, 70% at the domaine and 10% to the on trade here in France. They have the philosophy of making terroir driven wines, with 7 different cuvees on a clay-limestone soil. Our visit was followed by a stop at Couly-Dutheil in Chinon, Owner and producers since 1921 by Baptiste Dutheil, then developed by René Couly, married to Madeleine Dutheil. Nowadays, it is a family domain owned by the third and fourth generation. These family vineyards are well known thanks to their famous Clos de l’Echo and Clos de l’Olive, and vinify some 130 hectares of which 90 are their own property located over the 3 production areas of the appellation.
In Vouvray, The Domaine Huet was founded in 1928 by Victor Huet and his son Gaston. They now have 30 ha on 3 parcels, le Haut-lieu, le Mont and Clos du Bourg. They are in biodynamic practice since 1988 after enriching the whole domaine with a better mineralogy. As a result, the clay, flint and limestone bring the wines harvested on different parcels a nice elegance. They received their certification in 1993. The domaine has been bought by an American in 2003 which has enhanced their export to the USA.
We finished our Loire valley programe with the Chateau Moncontour, also in Vouvray. Since 1994, the Feray family has been renovating the Chateau, a nice domaine on an historic site of the Loire Valley. On top of the most prestigious old manors, it also features a cathedral cellar which dates to 1990. The state spans 130 hectares over hillsides and valleys, focusing mostly on the production of still, sparkling and sweet wines.
Next article will be on my trip in Burgundy! Follow The Wined on Instagram for sneak peaks of the different visits…