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The Loire Valley - Top Wine Producers of the Loire Valley

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks

Domaine Yannick Amirault

Coulée de Serrant

Top Wine Producers of the Loire Valley

Domaine de l’Écu - Pays Nantais/Muscadet Sèvre et Maine

location: La Bretonnière, Le Landreau
telephone number: 02 40 06 40 91
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: white
best vintages: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997
recommended wines: Muscadet Sèvre et Maine: Expression de Gneiss, Expression de Granit, Expression d’Orthogneiss

There could not be better publicity for biodynamic cultivation than Guy Bossard and the wines of the Domaine de l’Écu. He manages to put Muscadet on another plane with full, fragrant, complex wines that can even be aged. The regular Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie is a classic, and then there are three exceptional cuvées nuanced by, and named after, the soils from which they come: Expression de Gneiss, de Granit, and d’Orthogneiss. Bossard also has a stunning traditional-method sparkling wine labeled Ludwig Hahn made from Melon de Bourgogne, Folle Blanche, and Chardonnay.


Château de Villeneuve - Anjou-Saumur/Saumur-Champigny

location: 3 rue Jean Brevet, Souzay-Champigny
telephone number: 02 41 51 14 04
website: www.chateau-villeneuve.com
wine styles: red, white
best vintages: red: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1996
recommended wines: Saumur-Champigny, Saumur-Champigny Le Grand Clos, Saumur Les Cormiers

The impressive 18th-century château of Villeneuve was built from the local tuffeau stone. The wines are equally remarkable, made in an exacting manner by Jean-Pierre Chevallier. Rich, powerful, and deeply colored, the red wines produced from Cabernet Franc are a wonderful example of the true potential of Saumur-Champigny. The regular cuvée is consistently good and in exceptional years (2001, 1999, 1997) the long-aging Le Grand Clos and Vieilles Vignes are also produced. The Chenin Blanc Saumur Les Cormiers is rich and concentrated.


Château Pierre Bise - Anjou-Saumur/Coteaux du Layon

location: Beaulieu-sur-Layon
telephone number: 02 41 78 31 44
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white, dessert
best vintages: white: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1996
recommended wines: Coteaux du Layon Anclaie, Savennières Clos de Coulaine, Anjou-Villages Sur Spilite

Claude Papin knows the terroir of his 54-ha estate like the back of his hand. This is the reason for the impressive array of wines, which are all linked to the site and soil of his various parcels located within Savennières and the Coteaux du Layon. Selective late harvesting gives the wines a generosity of fruit. Of particular note are the firm but succulent dry white Savennières Clos de Coulaine, the sumptuous sweet Coteaux du Layon Anclaie and Quarts de Chaume, and the concentrated red Anjou-Villages Sur Spilite, produced from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grown on volcanic soils.


Clos Rougeard - Anjou-Saumur/Saumur-Champigny

location: 15 rue de l’Église, Chacé
telephone number: 02 41 52 92 65
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white
best vintages: red: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1996
recommended wines: Saumur-Champigny: Les Poyeux, Le Bourg

The Foucault brothers, Charly and Nadi, may be a roisterous pair of lads, but they know how to make good wine. Incessant work in the vineyards, old Cabernet Franc vines, low yields, and aging in oak barriquesenables them to turn out rich, concentrated Saumur-Champigny that is a long way from the light, fruity red wines generally found in the district. The two top wines, Les Poyeux and Le Bourg, are as elegant, restrained, and structured as many a fine bordeaux. There is also a little full bodied, dry white Saumur.


Coulée de Serrant - Anjou-Saumur/Savennières

location: Château de la Roche-aux-Moines, Savennières
telephone number: 02 41 72 22 32
website: www.coulee-de-serrant.com
wine styles: white
best vintages: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1995
recommended wines: Coulée de Serrant, Roche aux Moines Clos de la Bergerie

Owner Nicolas Joly is the arch-proponent of biodynamic viticulture in France, and he advocates it in a proselytizing fashion. The 7-ha grand cru Coulée de Serrant is a monopoly, alongside which Joly also owns 3 ha in grand cru Roche aux Moines and further parcels in regular Savennières. The wines are made in the simplest fashion, relying on the quality of the Chenin Blanc grapes. Coulée de Serrant is always dry and full-bodied with firm acidity and the aroma of honey and quince. It is best served decanted in advance.


Domaine des Baumard - Anjou-Saumur/Coteaux du Layon

location: 8 rue de l’Abbaye, Rochefort-sur-Loire
telephone number: 02 41 78 70 03
website: www.baumard.fr
wine styles: red, white, rosé, dessert
best vintages: white: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1993, 1990
recommended wines: Coteaux du Layon Clos Ste-Catherine, Quarts-de-Chaume, Savennières Trie Spéciale

This Domaine extends down both sides of the Loire River in Savennières and the Coteaux du Layon, giving Florent Baumard the opportunity to produce a range of delectable wines. The dry white Savennières Clos St-Yves is firm but rounded. In exceptional years (2000, 1997) there is also the Trie Spéciale, which is even more intense. From the Coteaux du Layon, the sweet Clos Ste-Catherine has marked elegance, while the Quarts-de-Chaume offers a huge concentration of rich, succulent fruit. In recent years, the red Anjou has improved considerably.


Domaine Patrick Baudouin - Anjou-Saumur/Coteaux du Layon

location: Princé, Chaudefonds-sur-Layon
telephone number: 02 41 78 66 04
website: www.patrick-baudouin-layon.com
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white, dessert
best vintages: white: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1995
recommended wines: Anjou Blanc, Coteaux du Layon: Grains Nobles, Maria Juby

Selective harvesting has always been the dictum at this domaine, producing wines of natural richness and fruit concentration. According to the vintage, a number of Coteaux du Layon cuvées are produced from Chenin Blanc, with varying degrees of sugar. In order of richness, these are Après Minuit, Maria Juby, Grains Nobles, and Les Bruandières. This domaine also makes a wonderfully soft, fresh, minerally apple and quince dry Anjou Blanc and some fruity red Anjou-Villages.


Domaine Bernard Baudry - Touraine/Chinon

location: 13 Coteau de Sonnay, Cravant-les-Coteaux
telephone number: 02 47 93 15 79
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white
best vintages: red: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1993, 1990
recommended wines: Chinon: Granges, Grézeaux, La Croix Boissée

Bernard Baudry began in 1977 with just 2 ha in Chinon and has since built this domaine (which he now runs with his son Matthieu) up to an impressive 30 ha. The wines are aged in cellars excavated from the tuffeau rock. La Croix Boissée from Cabernet Franc grown on limestone soils and Grézeaux on gravel are structured and good for aging, while Granges is a softer, fruitier Chinon. A new cuvée, Clos Guillot, made from ungrafted vines, was introduced in 2001, and a little fresh white Chinon is also produced from Chenin Blanc.


Domaine de la Taille aux Loups - Touraine/Montlouis

location: 8 rue des Aitres, Husseau, Montlouis-sur-Loire
telephone number: 02 47 45 11 11
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: white, sparkling, dessert
best vintages: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996
recommended wines: Montlouis: Les Dix Arpents, Cuvée des Loups (demi-sec)

Former wine merchant Jacky Blot created this domaine in 1988 with the purchase of three tiny parcels of vines. He now has 16 ha in Montlouis and Vouvray. The wines are elegant rather than powerful. Chenin Blanc grapes are carefully selected and vinified in oak barrels that are regularly renewed. There are two dry Montlouis: the pristine, linear Les Dix Arpents and the Cuvée Remus, which in youth has an atypical toasted oak flavor. Depending on the vintage, there is also a demi-sec and the sweet Cuvée des Loups, as well as sparkling wines.


Domaine du Clos Naudin - Touraine/Vouvray

location: 14 rue de la Croix Buisée, Vouvray
telephone number: 02 47 52 71 46
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: white, sparkling
best vintages: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1993, 1990
recommended wines: Vouvray (sec, réserve moelleux, sparkling)

Philippe Foreau describes the firm, minerally edge in older vintages of his Vouvray Chenin Blanc wines as almost “Chablisesque.” Whether sec, demi-sec, moelleux, or, in exceptional years when botrytis appears, moelleux réserve (1997, 1995, 1990), all the wines are ripe, crystalline pure, and age for a considerable length of time. Some splendid traditional-method vintage and non-vintage sparkling Vouvray is also produced.


Domaine Henry Marionnet - Touraine/Vin de Pays

location: Domaine de la Charmoise, Soings
telephone number: 02 54 98 70 73
website: www.henry-marionnet.com
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white
best vintages: white: 2002, 2001, 2000
recommended wines: Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, Provignage, Vinifera

Henry Marionnet has been something of a pioneer in his native Touraine, replanting his 60-ha vineyard, producing clean, modern style Sauvignon Blanc and fruity Gamay nouveau. Now he has taken to reviving forgotten grape varieties in the vineyard such as white Romorantin (first planted in 1850) in his Provignage and Gamay de Bouze in Les Cépages Oubliés (both vins de pays). There is also a wine called Vinifera from ungrafted Gamay. All three wines reveal a superb purity of fruit.


Domaine Huet - Touraine/Vouvray

location: 11 rue de la Croix Buisée, Vouvray
telephone number: 02 47 52 78 87
website: www.huet-echansonne.com
wine styles: white
best vintages: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1993, 1990
recommended wines: Vouvray: Le Mont, Le Haut-Lieu, Le Clos du Bourg

Gaston Huet built the reputation of this Vouvray domaine after World War II. His son-in-law, Noël Pinguet, has carried on the tradition and turned the vineyard over to biodynamic cultivation along the way. The wines, made from Chenin Blanc, are produced from three superb sites: Le Mont, Le Haut-Lieu, and Le Clos du Bourg, and depending on the vintage can be either dry, medium-dry, or sweet. All three wines have tremendous aging potential.


Domaine Philippe Alliet - Touraine/Chinon

location: L’Ouche-Mondé, Cravant-les-Coteaux
telephone number: 02 47 93 17 62
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red
best vintages: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995
recommended wines: Chinon: Vieilles Vignes, Coteau de Noiré

Philippe Alliet is a reserved but determined man. After 20 years of extraordinary effort, he and his wife Claude have made the Domaine Philippe Alliet the point of reference for red-winemaking in Chinon. Much inspired by the techniques practiced at the top estates in Bordeaux, Alliet has applied a number of these at his domaine, including aging in Bordeaux barriques. Three wines are produced from Cabernet Franc—a light regular cuvée and the more structured and concentrated Vieilles Vignes and Coteau de Noiré.


Domaine Yannick Amirault - Touraine/Bourgueil

location: 5 pavillon du Grand Clos, Bourgueil
telephone number: 02 47 97 78 07
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red
best vintages: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1996
recommended wines: St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Les Malgagnes, Bourgueil: Les Quartiers, Le Grand Clos

Yannick Amirault is such a dedicated vigneron that he still prunes the vines on his 18-ha estate himself. He produces a number of Cabernet Franc cuvées from different soils and ages of vine, all with a wonderful purity of fruit. From St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, there is Les Graviers and the firmer Les Malgagnes, while from Bourgueil he offers La Petite Cave, as well as the finely textured Les Quartiers and Le Grand Clos, all from vines of an honorable age.


Château de Tracy - Central Loire/Pouilly-Fumé

location: 58150 Tracy-sur-Loire
telephone number: 03 86 26 15 12
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: white
best vintages: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998
recommended wines: Pouilly-Fumé Château de Tracy

Tradition is well ingrained at Château de Tracy; the vine has been cultivated on the site since 1396, and the d’Estutt d’Assay family (of Scottish origin) have been resident since the 16th century. Over the past 10 years, Henry d’Estutt d’Assay has replanted two-thirds of the 29-ha vineyard and steadily improved methods of cultivation. There is only one wine: produced from Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown on limestone and silex soils, and vinified and aged in stainless steel and concrete vats. It has a classic mineral and citrus intensity and is best with a year’s bottle age.


Domaine Alphonse Mellot - Central Loire/Sancerre

location: Domaine de la Moussière, Sancerre
telephone number: 02 48 54 07 41
website: www.mellot.com
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white
best vintages: white: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995
recommended wines: Sancerre: Domaine de la Moussière, Cuvée Edmond, Génération XIX (red)

There have been 19 Alphonse Mellots, including the present winemaker and manager of the domaine. The cuvée Génération XIX, which comes as white (Sauvignon Blanc) and red (Pinot Noir) Sancerre, pays wry homage to this feat. The other Sauvignon Blancs from the 48-ha estate are all beautifully crafted and labeled. Domaine de la Moussière is the regular cuvée, all freshness and citrus fruit. The intense Cuvée Edmond comes from old vines and, like Génération XIX, is aged in oak cask. Its red double is as good as Pinot Noir gets in Sancerre.


Domaine Didier Dagueneau - Central Loire/Pouilly-Fumé

location: 1–7 rue Ernesto Ché Guevara, St-Andelain
telephone number: 03 86 39 15 62
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: white
best vintages: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997
recommended wines: Pouilly-Fumé: Buisson Renard, Pur Sang, Silex

With his lion’s-mane shock of hair and rugged beard, Didier Dagueneau looks much like Neanderthal man. His wines, though, are anything but rugged, being the finest expression there is of Sauvignon Blanc in Pouilly-Fumé. All are aged in oak barrels and are precise and finely honed. En Chailloux is the softest and largest in volume, Buisson Renard citrus, Pur Sang generous, and Silex minerally and pure.


Domaine Henri Bourgeois - Central Loire/Sancerre

location: Chavignol, Sancerre
telephone number: 02 48 78 53 20
website: www.bourgeois-sancerre.com
wine styles: red, white, rosé
best vintages: white: 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995
recommended wines: Le MD de Bourgeois, La Côte des Monts Damnés

This dynamic company is located in the village of Chavignol, equally famous for its Sancerre as for its goats’ cheese (Crottin de Chavignol). The primary production is Sancerre, but the estate also has vineyards in Pouilly-Fumé, Quincy, and even Marlborough, New Zealand. A flattering range of Sancerres is produced from specific sites, soils, and Sauvignon Blanc vines of varying age. Among these, les Baronnes is a crisp, fresh standard cuvée, Le MD de Bourgeois more minerally and intense, while La Côte des Monts Damnés is long and complex.

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