- Domaine Antoine Sanzay (Organic) Domaine Antoine Sanzay (Organic)
Antoine Sanzay isn’t exactly a newcomer to viticulture, he is in fact the 6th generation of the Sanzay family to tend their vines. Having studied at the lycée viticole at Montreuil-Bellay he took over the running of the family domaine in 1999. Antoine’s journey into wine was not a typical smooth succession. He had just turned 10 when, just as his grandfather was verging on retirement, his father tragically passed away. While Antoine’s father was a wine lover, his grandfather was the opposite. Growing grapes was just one element of a polyculture, and by no means the most important to him. What mattered was to work the land for a living, with all the grapes sold to the local co-operative.
With no solid guidance, no mentor, Antoine had to start from scratch. “I didn’t have any inherited legacy or familial pressure.” While having to rely on his wits, this provided Antoine with freedom to experiment. “I think it can be easier for the children to start with a new name than following their father’s legacy with all the baggage that can come with it” admitted Antoine. While he may have learned on his own, he grew his inspiration with support from many great Loire personalities, including Guy Bossard, Jo Pithon, Thierry Germain, Jo Landron, Les Freres Foucault and Bernard Baudry.
It was not until 2002 Antoine made his first vintage. With slowly having made the switch to organic practices, in 2007 Antoine started experimenting deeper in to organic viticulture and converted his vineyards by 2011, becoming fully certified bio and Ecocert in 2014. 2014 was also his first vintage where he bottled his entire production and stopped selling to the local cooperative, Antoine admitted “I started with almost nothing and I needed the local cooperative to help me financially”.
- Clos Rougeard Clos Rougeard
Nady Foucault is the leading producer in the Loire, along with the late Didier Dagueneau. Taking over his father’s domaine back in 1969, he became the 8th generation of his family to run this extraordinary small estate. Very sadly, Nady’s brother Charly passed away in December 2015 and where there were rumours of the family selling the 11 hectare estate, the sale has now been confirmed to the Bouygues brothers, current owners of Château Montrose in Bordeaux; Nady now having parted post a transitional handover period to ensure consistency. As far as viticulture and winemaking are concerned, everything seems so simple here: good grapes, good oak barrels, long élevage in their tuffeau cellars – nothing different to many other producers then! However, the results are always magnificent, class with a capital “C”, not flashy or exuberant but simply great wines. Unfortunately, too many people know and the demand largely outstrips the small production from this small jewel of an estate.
- Domaine Guiberteau (Organic) Domaine Guiberteau (Organic)
Romain Guiberteau is a very ambitious young producer, having previously worked with Nady Foucault at Clos Rougeard and states “An internship with Clos Rougeard is an internship for life.” There is no better mentor than Nady; the progress made by Romain is stupefying and his Saumur Blancs from his 14.5 hectares of vineyards are stunning expressions of Chenin Blanc on the Brézé terroirs.
- Brendan Stater-West Brendan Stater-West
Originally, from Oregon in the US, Brendan was not born into a winemaking family, just a family that “loves and drinks wine every day” and never thought that he would end up working in the industry. However, on arrival in France to teach English in 2007 he caught the wine bug and has not looked back since. Beginning his new career by joining the team at Domaine Guiberteau, Brendan still works there today and at the beginning of 2015, Romain proposed that Brendan could lease a 1ha plot of young Chenin vines in Bizay, next to the Clos de Guichaux, to begin producing his own wines. This first vintage was bottled at the end of March 2017, having spent 12 months in neutral oak barrels (225L, 300L and 400L), followed by 6 months in stainless steel tank. Brendan seeks the same purity and precision in his wines as Domaine Guiberteau, with a ‘transparent’ reflection of the specific terroir.
- Domaine de Bablut (Organic) Domaine de Bablut (Organic)
The Daviau family have owned vines on the hills surrounding Brissac since 1546. Today, their 50 hectares of vineyards spread over numerous and varied parcels in and around the commune. Following the completion of his wine studies at the University of Bordeaux; Christophe Daviau, heir to the family business, now manages Domaine de Bablut. Due to his great respect for the environment, Christophe committed himself to organic farming. Furthermore, inspired by natural activist Nicolas Joly, Christophe adopts many biodynamic practices too. His philosophy is to create a harmonious balance between terroir and grape variety, which he does with serious aplomb.
- Château de Plaisance (Organic) Château de Plaisance (Organic) “The Château de Plaisance is located on the Butte de Chaume, one of the most beautiful and only terroirs of Anjou classified 1er Cru. The vineyard has been run organically and biodynamically since 1995. Although the soils of Chaume are known for its beautiful sweet wines , Guy Rochais was the first to create a dry white: the famous “Chaume sec de Guy Rochais”. His creation earned him a fine for non-compliance with the AOC body and he has hence renamed it “The insolent”.After 60 years at the helm of Château de Plaisance, the Rochais family have now sold the estate to a young winemaker: Vanessa Cherruau. Born and trained in Angers, she has practiced her winemaking in both France. Patricia Rochais first visit to the terroirs of the Château de Plaisance was love at first sight and in 2019 her very first vintage at Chateau de Plaisance was released.
- Lamé-Delisle-Boucard Lamé-Delisle-Boucard
Pierre Guyot first began producing wine at Lamé-Delisle-Boucard in 1869. The business has always been very much a family affair with Pierre’s son-in-law Jules Lamé pioneering grafting vitis vinifera vines onto American Rootstock after the phylloxera epidemic. Originally, their wines were sold in bulk to local négociants, but the celebrated 1947 vintage inspired the family to begin bottling and selling wine under their own label. Unlike many other French estates, Lamé-Delisle-Boucard has not been split up by the Napoleonic inheritance laws and has steadily increased in size to 44 hectares over the 5 generations. Planted over a diverse range of soil types, with an average vine age of 35-40 years, Cabernet Franc represents 85% of their vineyard holdings, with 15% planted to Cabernet Sauvignon. Now with Pierre’s great, great grandchildren at the helm, Philippe and Stéphanie Boucard, Lamé-Delisle-Boucard is highly regarded for its superb, mature reds, which are aged in the estate’s beautiful Tuffeau cellars under the cuverie.
- Philippe Alliet Philippe Alliet
We are thrilled to work with Philippe Alliet, one of the icons of the Loire Valley. It’s a real privilege to be able to source these highly sought after wines, which originate from his small 17 hectares estate in Cravant-les-Côteaux, the location of some of the finest Cabernet Franc vineyards in the Loire. Inspired by his love for top Bordeaux, Philippe’s goal is to make wines that share the same concentration, density and power using low yields, optimally ripe fruit and full destemming of the grapes. All of his cuvées show great purity and balance and we are convinced that they have the ability to age for a decade or more.
- Domaine de Pallus(Organic) Domaine de Pallus(Organic)
We first met Bertrand Sourdais when he was the winemaker for Dominio de Atauta, one of the finest wineries in Ribera Del Duero. Now at the helm of this family-run 18 hectares domaine in Chinon, Bertrand is already changing and improving the vineyard management and has brought new techniques to the cellar. As a result, he is expressing the true potential of Domaine de Pallus: silky, deep rich Cabernet Francs without any of the green vegetal character so often showing in the lesser wines from this region.
Coteaux Du Layon
- Philippe Delesvaux (Organic) Philippe Delesvaux (Organic)
Philippe Delesvaux is one of the most meticulous producers we know and we admire his decision to make sweet wines despite a very difficult market. Very few people really understand these wines and the huge amount of work that is required to achieve such great results year after year. In addition, his 11 hectares of vineyards are fully organic and he is a great defender of the appellation.
- Moulin Touchais Moulin Touchais
With 35 hectares of its 150 hectares of vineyard dedicated to sweet wine, Moulin Touchais must be one of the most influential producers of Coteaux du Layon. The estate itself dates back to 1787 and 8 generations of the Touchais family have been involved in its running with Jean-Marie Touchais now at the helm. The family believe that their wines only really come into their own after being aged for a minimum of 10 years, so are kept in their spec
- Cave Saint Verny Cave Saint Verny
Founded in 1950, Cave Saint Verny is the sole co-operative in Puy-de-Dôme. It takes its name from Saint-Verny, the 15-year-old son of a wine grower who met his untimely death in 1287 as a result of persecution for his faith. Miracles were said to have happened in the presence of the young martyr’s body. With resident oenologist Olivier Mignard at the helm, the cave sources grapes from 53 communes with 115 growers who each have a holding of less than 2ha. The vineyards are mostly planted to Gamay and Pinot Noir, which are historically blended in the Auvergne. Cave Saint-Verny is an excellent ambassador for the Côtes d’Auvergne and their objective is to give the region the wider recognition it deserves.
- Domaine Pellé Domaine Pellé
The Domaine, directed by Anne Pellé and her son Paul-Henry, is without question the leader in the appellation. The quality of the wines has significantly improved over the last two decades, keeping the charm and rigour given by the Kimmeridgian terroir. Using organic methods in the vineyards they have also improved and modernised the winery to produce clear, striking and racy Sauvignons on a par with the best in Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé.
- François Chidaine (Organic) François Chidaine (Organic)
François Chidaine is the producer who put Montlouis firmly back on the map of world class Chenin Blanc’s. An early disciple of ‘Biodynamie’, he has succeeded in producing some of the most elegant Loire whites with consistently great balance between ripeness and structure.
- Château de la Gravelle Château de la Gravelle
Situated on a hill in the commune of Gorges at the heart of the Muscadet region, this impressive 17 hectares property boasts an unusual terroir, as its subsoil is composed of volcanic rock overlain by a layer of clay. A strong citrus character and defined minerality are the resulting hallmarks. Meticulously tended by the owner Véronique Günther-Chéreau, the 65-year-old vines yield a wine of classic Muscadet styling. Lees ageing (sur lie) brings a subtle richness to the mid palate.
- Domaine Didier Dagueneau Domaine Didier Dagueneau
Didier’s untimely death has left a huge void in our lives. Didier Dagueneau was, without doubt, one of the most unconventional, yet creative winemakers anywhere. Never one to rest on his laurels, Didier was always experimenting with his techniques with the goal of raising the bar on quality. Whether it was organic viticulture, sans-soufre winemaking, own-rooted vineyards, natural fermentations or experimental barrels, he always had an open mind to both the benefits and pitfalls of these practices. In the end, he was his own toughest critic and forged his own philosophies, which were more often than not grounded in the wisdom of tradition.
The 12 hectares domaine is fully biodynamic, with the complexity of the wines being achieved by extremely low yields and severe pruning. The winemaking process is not set in stone, but is adapted according to each vintage; with the guiding principles of contact with the lees and never allowing the wines to undergo malolactic fermentation. Didier’s son, Louis-Benjamin, is now in charge and has so far shown himself as more than capable of upholding the quality of these brilliant wines. He worked directly by Didier’s side for several years and, with the help of a great team, is pursuing his father’s work with great skill, determination and, indeed, success.
- Domaine Masson-Blondelet Domaine Masson-Blondelet
Jean-Michel Masson, now supported by his daughter and son, Mélanie and Pierre-François, has been making trademark Pouilly Fumé for more than 30 years. Their constant improvements in the vineyards and search for perfection in the cellar have steadily lifted the domaine to the very top of the appellation. The 21 hectares of vineyards are planted on limestone with a mix of clay and flint, which contributes finesse and complexity to the wines. They are very attractive in their youth but can age well for several years.
- Jonathan Didier Pabiot (Organic) Jonathan Didier Pabiot (Organic)
Jonathan is the fifth generation of Pabiots to have toiled the soils around Pouilly-sur-Loire. Whilst the cellar is located in Les Loges, the 18 hectares of vineyards are spread widely across the appellation, encompassing five communes in total: Villiers, Charenton, Tracy, Saint-Laurent and Les Loges. This soil diversity ensures that the cuvées offer a diverse range of styles whilst the site variations act as an insurance policy against the perpetual threats of frost and hail.
- Pascal & Nicolas Reverdy Pascal & Nicolas Reverdy
With Nicolas’ untimely death, Pascal Reverdy was faced with a big challenge. Helped by Nicolas’ widow Sophie and his own wife Nathalie, he decided to carry on the work he started with his brother. The results are superb with the same poised, mineral-driven whites and rich, crunchy-fruited reds. Working all the 14 hectares of vineyards manually without weed killers or use of industrial fertilisers contributes greatly to the ultimate quality of their wines. We are pleased to be working with one of the best domaines in Sancerre.
- Alphonse Mellot (Organic) Alphonse Mellot (Organic)
Alphonse Mellot Junior has elevated the family domaine to the highest level and is widely acknowledged as one of the best producers in Sancerre. This large estate is using biodynamic methods and although most of the wines are fermented in new or nearly new oak barrels, the wines are very fine and precise with piercing acidity and purity.
- Domaine Vacheron Domaine Vacheron
One of the oldest established families in Sancerre, cousins Jean-Laurent & Jean-Dominique Vacheron have been fighting to regain their position at the top of the appellation. Recent vintages have been exceptional and equally good throughout. Certified biodynamic, the Vacherons are now seen as equals to Alphonse Mellot. Having several great producers competing at the top is fantastic for Sancerre.
- Domaine Thomas (Organic) Domaine Thomas (Organic)
In the little village of Verdigny not far from Sancerre itself, Julien Thomas has been gradually taking over from his father Jean, continuing a family tradition which began back in the 1600s.
Ably supported by his partner Justine, Julien is adding his personal touch to the winemaking here and is firmly committed to producing a richer style of Sancerre wines using natural techniques.
- Damien Laureau (Organic) Damien Laureau (Organic)
With 8.5ha of organically farmed vineyards, Damien Laureau currently produces three very different expressions of the Savennières terroir, produced from 3 plots of land: Les Genêts, Le Bel Ouvrage and Savennières-Roche-aux-Moines. Working with a tiny team out of a small shed, everything here is done by hand and the attention to detail shines through in Damien’s wines. As a result, production remains very small.
- Xavier Frissant Xavier Frissant
Xavier Frissant is another producer focusing on local grape varieties, grown on his 22 hectares domaine in the South of the Loire. With so much average Sauvignon Blanc produced locally, we were extremely pleased to discover his knockout Fié Gris (a.k.a. sauvignon gris), a richer and more exotic white in the same vein as Sauvignon. The Touraine Sauvignon is crafted with the same focus and care.
- Domaine Bonnigal-Bodet Domaine Bonnigal-Bodet Domaine Bonnigal Bodet is located in Limeray, Amboise the heart of the Loire Valley. Having been handed down from father to son since 1927. The estate is run by the 4th generation and long-time best friends Jean Baptiste Bonnigal and Stéphane Bodet, who took over together in 2015.The Vineyards themselves are stretched across a large range of terroirs. With a multitude of local grape varities being used on the plots. Including Chenin Blanc, Côt, Sauvignon Blanc and Pineau d’Aunis. Using organic and biodynamic practices Jean Baptiste Bonnigal and Stéphane Bodet use their skills learnt in New Zealand and Bordeaux to create wine of both precision and purity .They believe that the work in the vineyard is essential to harvest grapes of optimum quality, which is why they consider manual work is necessary and unavoidable to respect both fruits and plants. The soil is worked to encourage deep root implantation, allowing the vine to express through the grapes the purest expression of the terroir and the vintage.
- Domaine Gilles Gaudron Domaine Gilles Gaudron
Fourth generation Gilles took over the family domaine in 1993. Composed of 50 separate, small parcels of vineyards, the estate is planted on limestone-clay soils spread over 27 hectares. Still aided by his father Sylvain, Gilles Gaudron produces top quality, traditional Vouvrays with pure fruit characters and striking terroir expression.
- Domaine Huet Domaine Huet
There are few producers who can almost single handedly claim such top-tier recognition within their appellation of the Loire, to the likes of Domaine Didier Dagueneau or even Clos Rougeard, and one of those is Domaine Huet! Established by Victor and Gaston Huet, this iconic estate has been one of the standard bearers of Vouvray since 1928. Presently the estate encompasses 35 hectares spread across three plots: le Haut-Lieu, le Mont, and Clos du Bourg. A true pioneer of biodynamic practices, with Gaston Huet being one of the very first vignerons to adopt and implement a definitive focus on single-vineyard bottlings, a transformative encounter in 1988 amplified terroir complexity and identity with values preserving terroir authenticity.
Following the passing of second-generation owner Gaston Huet in 2002, day-to-day operations were under the full control of his son-in-law, Noël Pinguet. That year, Anthony Hwang, a Filipino-born New York businessman bought into the partnership. Mr. Hwang and Mr. Pinguet continued the legacy until 2012, when Mr. Pinguet retired. Today, the winemaking and vineyard duties belong to Benjamin Joliveau, a Vouvray native who has trained closely with previous winemaker Jean-Bernard Berthomé as well as Noël Pinguet. Remaining true to the philosophy of the founders, Sarah Hwang and Benjamin Joliveau continue to craft superbly long-lived Chenin Blanc from these stunning vineyards.