36 vignerons were participating to this wine tasting event (and while I’m putting these names I’m appalled to have been able to taste only a small fraction of them…) :
Côtes du Forez :
Cave Verdier Logel
Les vins de la Madone – Gilles Bonnefoy
Domaine du Poyet
Cave Vin & Pic
Fleur de vigne
Le Clos de Chozieux
Côte Roannaise :
Domaine de la Bénisson-Dieu
Maison Jb Clair
Thierry Bonneton – Vigneron
Domaine de la Paroisse
Le Clos Saint-Jean
Domaine des Pothiers
Domaine des Palais
Le retour aux sources
Domaine des Ardaillons
Domaine de la Rochette-Cave Antoine Néron
Le vignoble des Blondins
There’s also a cool easy-going cafeteria at La Marbrerie, and a few people took a few minutes off during the event to eat something or just pause. I just realized while working on the picture that the guy sitting thyere (orange coat) was Pierre Guigui, a well-known wine expert and sommelier, and the woman next to him (turning her back to the camera) is probably Aurélie Soubiran….
I wanted to bring my versatile close range weapon, the Fujifilm X30, but I forgot it and realized on the way and had to rely on my phone only.
My first stop was at Domaine des Pothiers, which is one of the domaines that stand out in the Côte Roannaise. This is a family domaine located in Villemontais with the family having roots dating centuries there and today like in the past the family both raises meat cows on prairies not suited for vines, and and vineyards and farms vineyards, which just after WW2 made only 2 hectares. Romain began to be in charge in 2005, turning the farming organic all the while keeping meat cows. Romain Paire works the cows like the vines : quality meat from old, resistant breed, and his meat is delivered to the iconic gastronomic restaurant of the region, the Maison Troisgros in Roanne. Read this article source with a video featuring Michel Troisgros and Romain Paire who explains his work with meat cows. In the vineyards at harvest, all is hand picked, using wild yeast and no sulfur along the vinification, only soft extraction and the use of gravity to move the wines.
__ Fou de Chêne IGP Urfé 2020, Chardonnay. Beautifully coated in the mouth, creamy, not bad. Quite solar feel also.
__ Hors Pistes 2019, Pinot Gris. Round with a slight sweetness feel.
__ Cuvée Domaine 2020, Côte Roannaise, made with Gamay Saint-Romain, the local branch of Gamay in the Côte Roannaise. Quite delicate, silky, not bad ! 12 € (retail at the domaine) and for me ready to drink as is.
__ La Chapelle, Côte Roannaise 2002, Gamay Saint-Romain also. Parcellaire on higher elevation, vines 20 years old. Here although young, you feel the potential for something beautiful, if you keep the bottles another couple of years. 16 € tax included.
__ Clos du Puy, Côte Roannaise 2020. Elevation 512 meters, on pink granite. Elevage in foudres. Not bad, will be better after a couple years also I think.
__ L’Intégrale, Côte Roannaise 2020 (Gamay Saint-Romain of course), vines on mid slope, 515 meters altitude. Cellar : in 500-liter demi-muids. Waouh… That’s not bad at all, feminine wine, suave, indeed a super cuvée ! My stomach approves noisingly (it can’t lie)… 3000 bottles of this cuvée, retail 22 € at cellar, I strngly recommend.
__ Diogène, Côte Roannaise 2020, same parcel, vinification in amphora. More rough in the mouth.
__ Les Grenettes, IGP Urfé 2020, Négrette in amphora
__ Eclipse, a lightly rosé pet’nat made with this local Gamay Saint-Romain. With 10 grams of residual sugar, this turns this sparkling into a delicious thing “à la Potaire“. Try that too if you see one. Only 14 € retail at the domaine.
The domaine Verdier-Logel is a family estate, the grand parents used to sell their grapes to the coopérative. It now farms organic since 1997 (and now in biodynamy, not certified) has now a vineyard surface of 18 hectares, mostly with Gamay (85 %) like usual in the Côtes du Forez wine region, They have also other varieties that aren’t part of the Côtes-du-Forez AOC (which accepts only Gamay), reds (Syrah, Malbec) and whites (Pinot Gris, Viognier, Riesling, Gewürztraminer) that are labelled as IGP d’Urfé or vin de France. They vinify along the two main local terroirs of this volcanic region : granite or basalt. This small wine region which totals only 120 hectares altogether is pretty unknown abroad, and even in France I think many people ignore its existence.
__ Loyela Blues 2020, Riesling on basalt. Nice roughness on the palate, balance, Umami feel.
__ Pierre Lune, Pinot Gris 2020, on granite. 1st mouth has anstringency. Dry wine.
__ Petite Vertu, Viognier [2020 I presume]. Nice tension, I love that white ! Price at the domaine 10-11 € tax included.
__ Upschen (this was the nickname of Georges Brassens’ girlfriend, I’m told) Gewürztraminer 2020. Very aromatic, lovely mouth.
__ Les Gourmets, Côtes du Forez 2020, entry level cuvée of Gamay. Not my best choice.
__ Rezinet, Côtes du Forez 2020, named from a lieu-dit, longer élevage. Nice substance already for a young wine.
__ La Volcanique, Côtes du Forez 2020, vines on basalt soil. SO2 after malolactic and also before bottling in general, Julie says. I think you feel the consequences in term of the ampleness, the breath width of the wine…
__ La Volcanique, Côtes du Forez 2018. More acidity than the 2020, but this was a hot year also. With being 2 years older this wine fairs already better. 9 € retail at the domaine, but already soldout today. Julie says that they’ll go to Angers in 2022, taking part to the La Levée de la Loire wine fair and to Greniers Saint-Jean as well.
__ Poycelan 2016, a magnum. Massal selection of old vines of Gamay from the Forez. 1,5 hectare pruned in Cordon, thus with small yields. Some astringency, feels still young.
Speaking of the 2021 season, Julie says they got frost even in altitude which is uncommon and they lost overall lost 25 to 30% in volume.
We’re here in the Forez mounts region again with the domaine Vin & Pic, the name being a play of words with “wine & mountain” which sounds in French like “vin épique” or epic wine. It is managed by Christine and Laurent Demeure (and here their son Maxime). The wine farm is located in Boisset Saint-Priest, a few kilometers west of Saint Etienne. They farm a total of 8 hectares spread on 8 villages with a 20 km radius. With 13 different varieties, they pursue terroir and atypical wines and list as much as 26 cuvées, a few cuvées of different colors can be seen on this page wit retail prices.
__ Rav par 6 Vin de France 2017, a white wine made from Rava Blanc, an hybrid created by Jean-François Ravat [in the early 20th century i presume] and which after 1945 was considered a quality variety and registered in the A list of authorized varieties. The grapes are disease resistant which is good, avoiding the need to spray. 8 € pro price.
__ La Vigne d’Aldebertus, vin de France 2019. White made with Viognier. Feels very mineral to me. Asked about it, Maxime says the soil here is clay with a bit of basalt.
__ Fort et Libre, vin de France, a white blend made with Gewürztraminer and Viognier, élevage of 10 months in barrels. Super nose, aromaétic. I’m told they have many small parcels under the fermage contract system, they rent them to grandpas and grandmas who kept these family parcels and who otherwise could have pulled the vines off.
__ Boutonnière 2019, a blend of local breed of Gamay(50 %) and the rest with some 10 hybrids among them Bacco, Seibel, Noha and others (complanted in a parcel and picked together). Super nice wine, you must try that. It’s onctuous, suave and fresh at the same time with nice tannic touch. 5 € pro price or 8 € tax included at the domaine, a super good deal I think.
__ Seibel vin de France 5455. Some bitterness at first sip, with an acidic (griottes) cherry feel.
__ Bertille Seyve 872, vin de France 20419, made with a red hybrid, the 872 Bertille Seyve, named from its creator, Bertille Seyve (1864-1944). Here also the parcel (only 5 rows !) was used by an old folk in a village to mage his own wine, and being too old to do the job he wanted to pull up the vines, which could be avoided thanks to the Demeure family. They make only one ot two barrels (on a normal year) with this. Generally they put low SO2 like 1 gram/hectoliter before bottling. The reds are filtered, apart their Côtes du Forez which is not.
The Domaine de La Bénisson Dieu is managed by Régis and Aude-Reine Anouil since 2019, these new vignerons left the Paris area to set up this new life 2 and a half years ago in the Côte Roannaise region with a small 2-hectare + organic surface and a non-intervention philosophy. The domaine is named from the hamlet near Ambierle, a hamlet which is along the words of Régis and his wife an organic-Christian hamlet inhabited by people sharing the same faith (see this interview and profile made for a major French TV channel). The hamlet sits against the Madeleine mounts, a wild mountainous region and a few parcels among prairies with Charolaises cows.
__ Chardonnay, IGP Urfé 2020. Elevage in barrel for one year (barrels aged 8 years). Nice balance and tension. 18 € retail.
__ Rouge Domaine 2020, Gamay Saint Romain. Quite concentrated and extracted, feels a bit high in alcohol. Unifined, unfiltered and no added sulfites.
__ Laudato si 2020, old vines of Gamay Saint Romain (60). Compolexity on the nose, appealing wine in the mouth, not bad, I feel you better wait a couple years to enjoy that at it s best. 20 € tax included, good one.
The Domaine Sérol is certainly the most well-known domaine of the Côte Roannaise, this is a 5-generation estate with roots back in the 17th century. When Robert Sérol took the reins in 1964 this was a milti-crop farm like it used to be in most of France, the vineyard part of the surface was a mere two hectares, in derelict condition Stéphane took over the domaine in 1996 and replanted vines on the best slopes of this granite terroir. The domaine has today a vineyard surface of 40 hectares, it is farmed biodynamic. Stéphane & Carine co-own with Michel Troisgros (Maison Troisgros gastronomic restaurant) the Vignoble des Blondins, a 2-hectare domaine planted by Robert Sérol and Pierre Troisgros in 1992 with the goal to make top-notch terroir wines from the Gamay Saint Romain.
__ Champtoisé IGP Urfé 2020, Chenin on granite. Here the pour was so meager that frankly it was hard to get an impression from the sip (excessively-small tasting pours are pretty rare in general in these natural/artisan wine tasting).
__ Les Blondins, parcellar selection of red (Gamay St Romain). Fresh wine with tension, not bad, will be better with another year or two.
__ Oudan, Côte Roannaise 2020, slopes exposed south. Not bad, also a bit young to enjoy maybe, wait a bit and certainly excellent.
__ Les Millerands [2020 I guess], Gamay at altitude 500 to 520 meters (in general the Côte Roannaise is planted from 400 to 600 meters). Good wine, refined with radiating feel in the throat. 17 € tax included, good deal.
__ Perdrizière Côte Roannaise 2020, from a lieu-dit, vines planted on degraded granite. Wooden tronconic tank. Still young, nice astringency feel
__ Chez Coste 2020, same parcel (Perdrizière), vinified in amphora. Ah yesss, nice chew, that’s really different, already very nice as is, ok, maybe another year or two would help. Zero SO2 (the previous got a bit), filtered with plates.
Here we are in Auvergne ! The domaine Les Chemins de L’Arkose grew from 7 hectares (creation of the domaine in 2001) to the present 12 hectares, spread in two locations, south and north of Clermont Ferrand, the region’s major city. The wine farm is located in Montpeyroux south of Clermond Ferrand. Organic farming (certified since 2009), biodynamic since 2017 (Demeter certified 2021), with both plowing and freely growing weeds. Several grape varieties but the central one is the Gamay d’Auvergne. They use only indigenous yeast, no additives. No so2 in the vinfication, sometimes at bottling (very little, 30 mg/liter), the reds are unfiltered, the whites are unfiltered, for the rosé they just filter the gross sediments. The domaine was pointed to me by my friend Christian Bourgeois whom I briefly met in this event.
__ Oppidum 2020, Chardonnay. Nice crisp mouthfeel. Asked about the losses in 2021 with the weather, they say that the fact that their two vineyard locations are apart saved their volume compared to what they could have lost if thye parcels were grouped, but they still lost about 35 % of thy potential fruit.
__ Corent, Côte d’Auvergne rosé, 50-year old vines on basalt. Full mouthed wine, generous and crispy at the same time. 8,5 € tax included.
__ 5455, a pet’nat rosé made with Seibel (named from its creator, Albert Seibel). Vat sample, not bottled yet. Very light color, exciting nose, in the mouth, pleasant chew, very nice but as it hasn’t been bottled yet to get its 2nd part of fermentation it’s hard to tell if thye final wine will feel like this. 10 € tax included, nice deal if the wine is as lovable as now.
__ Le Clos, a red parcellaire made with Gamay d’Auvergne and a bit of Pinot Noir, terroir with surfacing basalt, comes from the north of Clermont Ferrand. Vinified 50 % stainless steel and cement.
__ Petrosus vin de France 2020, Pinot Noir. 3 parcels on granite, clay/limestone, sands and pebbles (galets roulés). 10 months in barrels.12 € tax included, good deal, I liked this one, don’t miss it either.
__ Les Terrasses 2020, Syrah on granite, 3 parcels. 101 months in amphora. Very nice, super good potential given its young age and the fact it was bottled recently. 17 € tax included.
__ Arkose 2020, old Gamay old vines (70 years), soil granite, one year in 500-liter demi-muids. Oh yes, that goes down well ! Classy wine, we’re in another category here… Love it ! 14 € tax included.
__ Arkose 2019, this label is pretty ugly but man, that is even better !
The domaine Le Retour aux Sources is located in the village of Saint-Alban-les-Eaux in the Côte Roannaise. It is managed by two brothers, Edgar and Marc Pluchot, who in 2005 restarted the domaine inherited from their grandparents who in their time were selling the grapes to a coopérative. Today the total surface is 8 hectares. They work fulltime on the domaine since 2012 and make 10 cuvées (they brought 5 of them here). Organbic farming, conversion to biodynamie.
__ Ys Toric 2020, Chardonnay. Ys is a lieu-dit where the parcel is located, at an altitude of 500 meters on granite soils. The altitude brings freshness and minerality, the wine is still warmfull. Stainless steel vinification at low temperature, élevage on lees. Here malolactic not completed, so2 at bottling only. Here 2 grams/hectoliter.
__ Mimi Robin vin de France 2020, Chardonnay & Pinot Gris, vines in plains on clay. Nice mouth with energy.
__ Le Partage, Côte Roannaise, Gamay de Saint Romain on granite (he says planting the posts was difficult because of the rocky soil). 6-day maceration, all destemmed. Stainless steel and time in fiber tank afterthen.Nice substance, enjoyable bitterness, and obviously still to young to open now, but very promising. 8 € Good deal ! This one is filtered, with 2 grams SO2. Bottled end of august. 10 000 bottles, this is the biggest cuvée, from a 2,4 hectare parcel.
__ Louis Robin Côte Roannaise 2020, named from the grandfather. Gamay Saint Romain, 12-day maceration. 40-year old vines recovered from colleagues, exposed south. Yields 30-40 hectoliters/hectare. Astringency here, not ready yet.
__ Héritage, Côte Roannaise 2020, old vines of Gamay St Romain on granite debis/sediments in the plains. 24-day maceration, destemmed. Nice tension in the mouth, not bad. Filtered, 2gr so2. I think it’d be great if unfiltered and no so2, but already worth as is. 10 € tax included.
The Domaine de Bellevue is located in the Saint Pourçain area, it was created in 1922 and Jean-Louis Petillat is the 4th generation of this family domaine, which he runs since 1977. In Saint Pourçain the Appellation rules say that the wine must be a blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir.
__ Saint Pourçain 2019, cuvée Grande Reserve. 7,5 € tax included.
__ Roches Grises 2016, majority of Pinot Noir. Nice (this is the end of the afternoon and it gets hard to get my notes straight…).
__ Vieilles Vignes (old vines) 2018
__ Urbain V 2015, majority Pinot Noir, élevage in barrels. Quite classy. 14,75 € tax included.
Joël Lapalue (on right) and son Richard manage Le Clos Saint Jean, a domaine located in the Côte Roannaise area in Saint-Jean-Saint-Maurice-sur-Loire west of Roanne). They set up this domaine in the early 1990s after deciding a change of life. This is a real wine farm (7 hectares of vineyards if I’m right), just remember that in this organic farm (organic since 1994, this made waves around them at the time…) they not only tend vineyards and make wine, they also raise lambs for the meat and they make sheep cheese. They started farming organic from the start, and with natural winemaking, and that’s certainly the reason they got trouble getting the agreement for the AOC (no additives, no correction). They export more than 70 % of the wine, to the United States (Paris Wine Company), the UK (Caves de Pyrene)
__ Tradition 2020, 100 % Gamay, 8-10 day maceration. Destemmed, maceration 10-12 days. 12 % alcohol. Feels like no filtration at all but there was some, a light one. Nice enjoyable wine, super deal at 4,25 € pro price, can be found in a caviste in Joinville le Pont. Sells for 7,2 € tax included at the domaine.
__ Passion Volcanique 2019, Côte Roannaise, 13,5 %, longer vatting time, 17-day maceration in cement tank with destemmed grapes, then pressing and then stainless steel. Nice expression in the mouth, a bit of extraction but moderate.5,25 € Pro price. 10,5 € tax included at the domaine.