The Vigneau-Chevreau family
69 acres total of Chenin Blanc in several sites. 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.
Since 1875, the Vigneau-Chevreau family has farmed the chalky soils of this 69-acre Vouvray domaine, planted entirely to Chenin Blanc. The late Jean-Michel Vigneau began steering the family domaine in an organic direction in the early ’90s and by 1999 Vigneau-Chevreau received certification from Ecocert. Shortly thereafter, the new generation of Vigneaus took the next step by adopting a biodynamic vineyard regimen. The most disciplined of organic cultures, biodynamics is based on tapping into the natural rhythms between the earth and its atmosphere. Practices include the scheduling of specific vineyard work according to the Maria Thun lunar calendar, and use of homeopathic preparations for both vines and soil.
Despite being restricted to just one variety, vineyard decisions are far from simple for Jean-Michel’s sons Christophe and Stéphane, who now direct the domaine. Vigneau-Chevreau makes four categories of Vouvray: sparkling, sec, demi-sec and moelleux (sweet). So, 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.