Delaunay Vignerons

The Delaunay estate is in the village of Vertou, the village where the archdeacon of Nantes, Martin de Vertou, founded a monastery in the 6th century and planted extensive vineyards. It was as obvious then, as it is now, wine helps with any conversion.

Fast-forwarding some 1,400 years on this same land, Antoine Delaunay is the fourth generation in his family to carry on this tradition. Muscadet, like Beaujolais, has within its appellation construct, 10 Cru Communaux. The Delaunay vineyards in Vertou are part of the Cru Château-Thebaud. Their 22- hectare estate is certified organic and has vines ranging from 1 to 90 years old. Most of the vineyard is planted to the variety, Melon de Bourgogne, a grape that was grown in the region beginning in the 17th century, but really took hold after 1709 when it showed its resilience to the severe frost of that year.

All wines ferment with their natural yeasts and Antoine doesn’t use SO2 until adding a small amount before bottling.

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.

The appellation of Bourgueil covers 1,350 hectares spread throughout seven communes on the right bank of the Loire River. Bruno Dufeu is located in the hamlet of Neusaies, part of the village of Benais, in the heart of the Bourgueil appellation. Bruno has taken over a family domain and farms 12 hectares. He has two parcels, one in the “sables” (sandy) lower slopes and one in the “argilo-siliceux” (clay-limestone) upper slope called Grand Mont. He farms according to the principles of “lute raisonnée” (sustainable farming) and is increasingly farming organically.

The appellation of Vouvray is found on the right bank of the Loire River, just upstream from the city of Tours. The vineyards trace back their history to the year 372 when Saint Martin, Bishop of Tours, planted vines on the right bank of the river at the monastery of Marmoutier. The appellation’s only sanctioned grape is Chenin Blanc, known locally as the Pineau de la Loire. Vouvray wines show the remarkable versatility of this grape with wines that can be still or sparkling and range from dry to sweet.

Christophe Thorigny farms 10.5 hectares in the village of Parcay-Meslay, one of the eight villages included in the Vouvray appellation. His family has owned vineyards in the village for four generations and the domaine reached its present size in 1997. Christophe has followed the previous generations by selling the largest part of his production to local negociants while slowly building a client base for his estate bottled wine. Despite this fact, his grandfather dug a spacious cave into the limestone hillside next to their domaine where they mature their sparkling wine.

Christophe farms according to the principle of “lutte raisonnée” or minimal intervention and keeps his yields low by severe pruning throughout the growing season. The vineyard is on a plateau with soils of chalky clay and flinty clay covering a thick layer of limestone known as “tuffeau”.

Read Christophe’s comments in the Loire Vintage Reports

The appellation Pouilly Fumé takes it s name from both the main village of the area, Pouilly Sur Loire, and the main grape variety, Blanc Fumé, the local name for Sauvignon Blanc. It is called Blanc Fumé because in these vineyards the Sauvignon Blanc forms a grey or smokey colored bloom on the grape skin at maturity. Additionally the Sauvignon Blanc in Pouilly Fumé often exhibits an aroma of gunflint (pierre à fusil).

Read Katia’s comments in the Loire Vintage Reports

The appellation of Saint-Pourçain is situated in the center of France, in the Allier department and is considered part of the Centre-Loire.This region is better known to wine professionals for its forests of prized oak trees used in barrel production than for its wines. The appellation, ranging approximately 5 kilometers in width and 30 kilometers in length, spreads throughout 19 communes with vineyards planted on a series of hillsides to the west of the Allier River. The history of vineyards in this area dates back to before the Romans, when the Phoenicians settled here and planted vines. In fact, they claimed to have civilized the barbarians with wine. During the 13th and 14th centuries the wines of Saint-Pourçain were highly esteemed. They traveled up to Paris via the Allier and Loire rivers and were favored by Popes, royalty and the aristocracy alike. By the end of the 18th century the vineyards of Saint-Pourçain covered more than 8,000 hectares. Today the vineyards total 600 hectares. The appellation received AOC status in 2009.

Denis Barbara farms several separate parcels of land totaling 8 hectares. Two thirds of his production is in red wine. He works alone except for the harvest and does much of the vineyard work by hand. He keeps his yields very low by bud pruning “ebourgeonnage” in the spring and green harvesting in the summer after “veraison”. He cultivates grasses between all the rows and does not use insecticides, pesticides or chemical fertilizer in his vineyards. All of his wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts.

Read Denis’ comments in the Loire Vintage Reports

The Côtes du Forez appellation is located between the Loire and Allier rivers in the center of France. The nearest town of note is St. Etienne which was significant to the booming mining industry that dominated the region through the nineteenth century. The miners required a lot of wine to quench their thirst and as late as 1930 there were 5000 hectares planted in Côtes du Forez. Today, there are less than 200.

Domaine Verdier-Logel is the leading estate of this small and obscure appellation where vineyards are few and far between. The Côtes du Forez hillsides are foothills of the volcanic mountains of the Massif Central and have soils of granite and volcanic composition. The cool climate and rocky soils impart a strong, earthy fragrance to the wines which combines well with the elegant fruitiness of the gamay grape. Due to the difficult climate only parcels with the best exposition and soils are planted with grapevines. The appellation’s laws mandate Gamay as the sole grape to be used and Verdier-Logel produces separate wines from volcanic and granite soils. The Domaine Verdier-Logel is certified both organic and bio-dynamic.

Read Odile’s comments in the Loire Vintage Reports