Domaine du Pas Saint Martin

Doué la Fontaine
Coteaux du Layon
Laurent Charrier

Domaine du Pas Saint Martin is set among troglodyte caves formed out of ancient fossilized marine life that covered the Saumur region 10 million years ago. During the Middle Ages these caves served the Protestants as secret places of worship.

Laurent Charrier and his mother run the domaine which is a certified organic farm. Laurent’s father was not interested in producing wine and thus in 1994 when Laurent took over the responsibility of the domaine, he picked up where his grandfather had left off. He immediately set out to acquire certification for organic farming which he received in 1997. The family vineyards are a bit spread out with small holdings in Anjou and Coteaux du Layon in addition to their primary vineyard in Saumur. The average age of the vines is 25 years with a good part being older than 35 years. Vinification is carried out in temperature controlled stainless steel vats.

La Vie en Rose

La Vie en Rose is produced in the “Methode Ancestrale”. This method pre-dates the “Methode Champenoise” and employs one interrupted fermentation rather than an induced second fermentation. Centuries ago fermentation would stop naturally or at least retard due to the cooling temperatures in the late fall and winter. The warmer temperatures of spring would reenergize and recommence the fermentation. The “Methode Ancestrale” takes advantage of this natural cycle by taking the partially fermented juice and bottling it in the spring where it finishes its fermentation. Laurent Charrier makes this sparkling wine from Grolleau Noir that is grown in his Anjou vineyard . Grolleau Noir is a centuries old grape type native to the Loire and one that is used primarily in Rosé d’Anjou.

Saumur Blanc “La Pierre Frite”

The Saumur Blanc is produced from 100% Chenin Blanc that grow in siliceous-limestone soils. Vinification methods include the settling of the must “debourbage” which concentrates the flavors, and extended contact with the lies to enrich the wine. There is no malo-lactic fermentation resulting in a wine that offers springtime aromas and a refreshing palate.

Saumur Blanc “Jurassique”

The “Jurassique” cuvée is produced from a parcel of 80 year old chenin blanc vines. The yield from this parcel is on average 30hl/ha. After a natural settling of the juice, it is fermented in stainless steel tanks and then matured for less than a year in French oak barrels of one and two years. The wine combines expressive aromatics, a rich mouth feel and great length supported by the wine’s vibrant acidity.

Saumur Rouge “La Pierre Frites”

The Saumur Rouge “Pierres Frites” is produced from Cabernet Franc that is grown in siliceous-limestone soils. The grapes are de-stemmed and then fermented in stainless steel vats. The maceration lasts about ten days and the fermentation temperature is controlled. The objective is to produce an expressive wine not burdened by harsh tannins.


a translation of Laurent's (pre)historical explanation of the place-name "Pierres Frites", the name of his Saumur Blanc and Saumur Rouge bottlings.


During the neolithic era, our distant ancestors erected megaliths (or menhirs) in very particular locations.

Blocks of hard stone were placed at points of convergence of water currents and telluric currents (points of energy currents emanating from deep earth). They became objects of radiant force, of revitalization. Men and women would come to these menhirs, to rub themselves against the stone, in order to capture the energy coming from the ground.

Oral legends preserved the memory of this ancient period, and today we still have the place-name "Pierre Frite", coming from the Latin "fricta" meaning to rub (against).

The existence of sandstone slabs in the wood by our vineyards, confirms, in the eyes of specialists, the hypothesis of the existance here of an erected stone.

visit this link to the website for the original (click the neon-moss green bar at the bottom of the page):

Domaine du Pas Saint Martin has been Ecocert certified since 1997 and is devoted to the cause of biodiversity.

Also check out this link : to their site "La Monde de Pierre Frite". Since 2009 the Domaine, teaming up with other skilled artisans in its community, has devolped an interactive teaching program for children to encourage awareness and understanding of biodiversity. The Domaine was awarded the 2012 Eco-Trophy by the Parc National Loire-Anjou-Touraine.

On the site you can watch videos of kids in the vineyards learning, seeing, photographing the fauna and flora populating the vines and neigboring woods. There is a "galerie" of photos taken by the children that is not to miss!

Region: Loire

The Loire River runs a course of 1,000 kilometers. This grandest of French rivers rises in the volcanic Auvergne mountains at 1551 meters in the village of Mont Gerbier de Jonc. It takes its course flowing north through the center of France and then westward to the city of Nantes, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Along its way, the Loire River passes through thirteen departments and together with its tributaries, provides the setting for seventy-three different appellations. These seventy-three appellations fall within five viticultural regions: Auvergne, Centre-Loire, Touraine, Anjou-Saumur and Nantais...

The most concentrated areas of wine production are found in these last three regions all situated on the upper half of the river and centered around the towns of Tours, Angers and Nantes.

The Auvergne mountains give birth to the Loire and present a rugged landscape quite different from the bucolic countryside of the upper Loire between Blois and Angers. The Auvergne vineyards divide into four appellations : Côtes du Forez, Côtes Roannaise, Côtes d’Auvergne and Saint Pourçain. Today they are little known beyond their borders but wine has been made there for over a thousand years and historically they enjoyed widespread recognition. The vineyards of Saint Pourçain were among the most favored in the Middle Ages, rivaling those of Beaune and Chablis and gracing the tables of the Royal Court and the Papacy at Avignon. The overall area under vine is much smaller today than it was centuries ago. Côtes Roannaise is the smallest with 170 hectares of vines and Saint Pourçain is the largest with 600. All four taken together would be half the size of the Sancerre vineyards.

The Auvergne mountains are challenging to the viticulteur from the standpoint of topography and climate. The few vineyards that exist today are planted in the most favorable micro-climates. When the wines are well made they are extremely expressive and flavorful and give the impression of being rich in minerals and restorative, much like some of the “eaux de source” from the region.

The vineyards of Centre-Loire include the appellations of Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Pouilly-sur-Loire, Coteaux du Giennois, Menetou Salon, Quincy, Reuilly and Chateaumeillant. This is the land of Sauvignon Blanc; only the appellation of Pouilly sur Loire produces wine from a different white grape, Chasselas. The Centre-Loire has the city of Bourges at its center. Historically it is a mercantile city, and from where originates the word “bourgeois.”

The vineyards of the Touraine extend in all directions from the town of Tours and are organized into thirteen appellations. Additionally, to the north of Tours is the Vignoble du Loir where the appellations of Jasnières, Coteaux du Loir and Coteaux du Vendomois straddle the Loir River (what’s an “e” among rivers?).

The vineyards are spread along the Loire’s many small tributaries such as the Cher, Indre and Vienne on the south side and the Cisse and Brenne on the north. These smaller river valleys render landscapes of human scale and infinite variety, perfectly mirrored by the wines. Wines labeled as Touraine can be produced from a long list of grape types. The authorized white grapes include Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Romorantin and Arbois; the red grapes include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Cot (Malbec), Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Four sub-appellations of Touraine, each spread about a particular village and named for that village, such as Touraine-Amboise, produce wines with a stricter set of mandates from the I.N.A.O. The wines of Touraine bring to mind the old Arlo Guthrie tune, “You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant….”

The Touraine is followed down river by the wine regions of Saumur and Anjou. The vineyards here extend for many kilometers and are found primarily on the southern side of the river. Saumur is well known for its sparkling wine made primarily from Chenin Blanc. The natural and manmade chalk caves are like those in Champagne and provide the perfect repository for the maturing of the sparkling wine bottles. The separate appellation of Saumur-Champigny produces Cabernet Franc along the lines of Chinon and Bourgueil.

The Pays Nantais has its viticultural roots in the Roman era during which its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean provided commercial advantage to the region. However, invasions and political instability during the middle ages hindered the vineyards from flourishing. Not until the 17th century did the vineyards begin to prosper and expand thanks to the Dutch who used Nantais white wine to make Eau de Vie. The main grape of the area is the white wine grape Melon de Bourgogne, called locally Muscadet. Muscadet was widely planted in the early 18th century after the severe frost of 1709 wiped out most of the Nantais vineyards and showed Muscadet to be one of the only varieties to withstand the cold. Sharing the same viticultural zone as Muscadet in the Pays Nantais is the VDQS appellation Gros Plant which produces wine from the grape type, Folle Blanche.