Bellevue chenin blanc
The west wall of the charming Château Bellevue flanks this vineyard, and the rows descend down the south-west slope of sandy, gravelly shale. Half a hectare in size, the vines about 30 years old. This is our most versatile vineyard yielding good pétillant material, but even more impressively, super-ripe flavours for our barrel-fermented blanc sec. It is a truly gifted site.
Savetier chenin blanc
Off on the crest of a hill, this is no more than four rows, clocking barely an eighth of a hectare. The vines are very free-form, not an easy vineyard to work, and the soil is filled with huge rocks that rattle the tractor when we plough.
Les Varennes chenin blanc
Les Varennes is a stone's throw from Bellevue, on the crest of the next hill. Being more isolated, it's inhabited by a mass of wildlife. It's also the favourite hang out of the local hunting crowd. What soil exists is very shallow and filled with rocks. Taking the plough to it, there's hardly anything to turn. We shake our heads in disbelief that a plant can not only survive here, but also produce generous fruit.
Vielles Vignes du Clos de Vigneau chenin blanc
La Grande Piece grolleau noir
We found this vineyard in a state of viticultural shock. Un-ploughed, unpruned, and for the most part abandoned, this, as our first foray into wine growing, was a jump into the deep end. The vines were sad, suffering stumps struggling for breathing room. Their branches were like matchsticks. We devoted countless hours to this plot. Despite its humble situation, the wine it creates is an explosion of aromatic wonder.
La Noue Blanchard cabernet franc
We'd never known a selection massale before. La Noue Blanchard is the original planting of cabernet franc in this region, its vines having been propagated not from the clonal selection of a nursery, rather by the deliberate assemblage of choice vine cuttings. While their origin isn't a wayward suitcase marked "DRC," we're impressed by the unusual airy clusters, the tiny berry size, chewy tannins, and the concentration of flavour.
Le Haut Sable cabernet franc
In Anjou, cabernet plantings can span all sorts of terroir. Most of our cabernet is on deep, heavier, clay soils. This oddity, located a good five minutes' drive from all of our other vineyards, high on the left bank of the Layon river, is a sand box. We don't know what the deal is with this terroir, we suppose it's drainage, but grapes here ripen a good 10 to 14 days earlier than everything else. The soil is a breeze to plough. The vines grow like Tim Lincecum's locks.
Les Rouliers cabernet franc
One of our most isolated, scenic vineyards, the triangular plot of vines descends to within metres of the Layon river. The soil is a crumbly mixture of sandy shale, gravel, and light clay. At some point mid-season we noticed that the cabernet franc had been illicitly interplanted with cabernet sauvignon. Keep that on the DL.