The Vigneau-Chevreau family
69 acres total of Chenin Blanc across 4 of the 8 small villages of Vouvray. Certified Organic in 1999 by ECOCERT (practicing Biodynamic but not certified). Tuffeau and argillaceous (clay) chalks with some parcels composed of Silex and covered by Perruches, Touraine’s flinty stones. Clos de Rougemont site planted on argilo-calcaire (clay and calcareous limestone chalk) soils.
Biodynamic and Organic
Since 1875, the Vigneau-Chevreau family has farmed the chalky soils of this 69-acre Vouvray domaine. The late Jean-Michel Vigneau was the first to estate bottle the wines, and began steering the family domaine in an organic direction. In the 1990s, Jean-Michel’s sons, the 5th generation to farm here, took the next step by adopting a biodynamic vineyard regimen. Thus, the domaine has been practicing biodynamic farming since 1995 and achieved organic certification from Ecocert in 1999. Firm believers in tapping into the natural rhythms between the earth and its atmosphere, the brothers employ all the biodynamic farming principles, including the scheduling of specific vineyard work according to the Maria Thun lunar calendar and use of homeopathic preparations for both vines and soil. They have not pursued biodynamic certification, however, due to the additional expense.
About 99% of the vineyards are planted with Chenin Blanc, with a touch of Pinot Noir and Grolleaux that stay with the family. Jean-Michel’s sons Christophe and Stéphane make four categories of Vouvray: sparkling, sec, demi-sec and moelleux (sweet). In a typical year, sparkling wine makes up over half their production. Determining which vine parcels to pick early for use in the pétillant wines, which sites to allow longer hangtime for demi-sec, and which special spots are most likely to attract botrytis are all matters of inherent savoir-faire and constant attention. The Vigneau boys produce a textbook line-up of Vouvrays from their own vines and also control the Clos de Rougemont of the historic Abbey of Marmoutier. One of the grandest churches in western Europe during medieval times, the Abbey hosted popes and kings. However, over the centuries, the abbey and its vineyard fell into disrepair, with the final blows being dealt by the French Revolution and the ravages of phylloxera. In the early 1990s, Vigneau-Chevreau was awarded vineyard rights to the Clos (for 50 years) in exchange for restoring it to its original grandeur. The site was replanted with a careful selection of vines from Vigneau-Chevreau’s best terroirs. The results have been impressive.