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Grower’s View: Terra Vita Vinum

Exploring our favourite domaines in the words of the growers.

Bénédicte Petit, Owner and chief Chenin Lover, Terra Vita Vinum, Anjou

Terra Vita Vinum are based in the heart of the Anjou Noir region, a geologist’s dream, with a complex mix of schists, quartz and volcanic rocks ideally suited to viticulture. Each vineyard’s unique situation, soil and climate gives its own character; the essence of terroir and central to the philosophy of Terra Vitae Vinum. Biodynamically farmed and mostly made in stainless steel, using natural yeasts and no interventions, these wines are as pure as I can remember tasting. Here we ask Bénédicte, one of TVV’s two owners, for a run down on the domaine.

Can you tell me more about your vineyards/sites? 

The vineyard is located in the Anjou Noir (Armorican massif made of schist and volcanic rocks). By comparison, the vineyards of Saumur are located in the Parisian basin (limestone). The majority of the domain is located south of the Loire, except for our Savennières parcel which benefits from the micro-climate of the north of the Loire.

The Vineyard is located on 30 ha. The average age of the vines is 18. The oldest are 41 years old. The varieties we produce are chenin, chardonnay, cabernet franc, gamay, grolleau, cabernet sauvignon. The average production of the domain is 33 hl/ha. We produce about 120 000 bottles every year. All our wines are made in our cellar. We don’t buy any grapes.

Bénédicte Petit & Luc Briand are the current owners. They bought the estate in 2019. The 2021 vintage will be their 3rd harvest. Luc comes from a family of winemakers in the Anjou Noir. Bénédicte was previously a wine merchant We are assisted by Jérôme Foucaud, as head of culture and Romain Nicolas as cellar master.

What is your style and philosophy?

The philosophy of the domain is to be as close as possible to nature. For the last 2 years, we have been working hard on biodiversity, which we consider to be a real farming aid. To do so, we have started viti-forestry work (planting trees and hedges in our vineyards) to attract animal species (bats for example) that consume other species (butterfly pests for example) that are harmful to our crops.

We believe that viticulture can contribute to the return of certain lost balances and to the preservation of certain endangered species. We wish to be actors of this ecological approach.

What’s new at the Domaine?

Since we arrived, we changed all the labels, we structured the wine in 3 ranges of wine. We introduced new containers for the best cuvées. The Large soif are matured in stainless steel and/or concrete vats. The Assemblages vintages are partially used to “patinate”. The Parcellaires are aged in barrels and/or terracotta amphorae and/or ovoid concrete vats. Our barrels, half-muids of 500 and 600 liters, are made by independent Burgundian coopers (Chassin, the cooper of La Romanée Conti, Rousseau and Millard). We only work with these 3 coopers with whom we have a real technical complicity. All the wood is rigorously controlled and analyzed before the realization of the barrels to guarantee the good level of dryness. The toasts are revisited each year according to the quality of the harvest for an ideal match with the type of maturation sought.  We seek first to use wood as a constituent of containers because it favors micro-oxygenation. We do not wish to see wood dominate our wines. For us, wood should only accompany the tasting.

With some exceptions, sulphites are only used before bottling. Slow and long fermentations often allow us to do so.

And when the air resistance tests indicate that it is possible, we sometimes carry out bottlings without added sulfite (only on red wines).

We got the Demeter certification by the harvest 2020.

How is the latest weather condition impacted the domaine?

We suffered a lot from the frost this year and we think we lost 50% of the crop.

What is your favourite food and wine matching?

With Bigottière 2018 : Our favourite food pairings: on fish with white butter, truffled white pudding, sweetbreads, blanquette de veau served in cream with mushrooms.

With Rogeries 2018 : Our favourite food pairings: fried scallops, ceviche of sea bream, but also sushi.

With Terre de 3 2018 : Our favourite chords: with iodine of course, but also with rabbit terrine, rillette or marinated chicken breasts.

With Chant de la pierre 2018 : Our favourite pairings: perfect with a parsleyed ham, a sapper’s apron, a black pudding, a grilled pig’s trotter accompanied by homemade chips, but also with kidney or liver giblets in parsley. As far as cheeses are concerned, we appreciate the contrast with the fat of a Saint Marcellin (one of our rare matches with red), even if we also appreciate the white wine which surfs on its creamy side.

With Large soif blanc 2019 : Our favourite chords: alone, between friends, but also on a calf’s head, an andouillette…