Loire Valley

TERRA VITA VINUM

Anjou

Terra Vita Vinum's aims are simple – to build upon the work done by the Richou brothers at Domaine Richou, to convert the domaine from organic to biodynamic farming and to make the finest wines possible with the least intervention. These wines are fantastic - sophisticated, distinctive and delicious.

Background

Sometimes we discover wines that really catch our imagination. The combination of people, place and wine all click, and we know we are onto something special. Enter Terra Vita Vinum in Anjou. This exciting project was born when Didier Richou, one of the two brothers who ran the much respected Domaine Richou, decided to retire. His younger brother Damien needed help, so brought in three new partners. The project’s aims are simple – to continue and build upon the work done by the Richou brothers, to convert the domaine from organic to biodynamic farming and to make the finest wines possible with the least intervention. These wines are fantastic – sophisticated, distinctive and delicious.

They are based in the heart of the Anjou Noir region, where the soils are quite different to the limestones of Saumur and elsewhere in the Loire. Here we find a geologist’s dream, 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, clearly translated via the vine into the glass. This is the essence of terroir and central to the philosophy of Terra Vita Vinum.

Full details of each wine can be found below – it’s a fascinating line up. The first white, Grand Soif! (Very Thirsty), blends Chenin with Chardonnay to add fruit and weight, it is richly textured yet lively, more serious maybe, but every bit as drinkable, as the name suggests. The Terre de 3 Anjou Blanc blends Chenin from three sites to produce a taut, mineral wine which is appealingly saline on its finish. The two single vineyard wines are beautifully poised and textured, the Les Rogieres Anjou Blanc rich and complex, the Bigottière Savennières sinewy and focussed, both long and fine. The reds are both from Gamay, which gives a darker, fuller wine here than it does in Beaujolais. The Châteliers is richer, fuller bodied, and shows dark, spicy cherry fruit while the Chant de la Pierre is elegant, showing mineral red fruits and a lifted perfume from a little whole bunch fermentation. When I tasted through the wines, first in Paris with Bénédicte, one of the new partners, and then again at home last week, I was struck by the complexity and effortless drinkability of the wines. Fermented and aged almost entirely in stainless steel, using natural yeasts and no interventions, they are as pure expressions of terroir as I can remember tasting.

Current Vintages

WhitesVintage
A blend of 80% chenin blanc and 20% chardonnay grown together on Schist. Fermented and aged for six months in stainless steel. Ripe orchard fruit nose, really inviting. Lots of fruit on the palate, ripe acidity and very food friendly. They jokingly call it an homage to French Chef Paul Bocuse, whose insistence on quality and freshness inspired their tastes in both food and wine. It is certainly a versatile wine for the table, but I also enjoyed it nicely chilled on its own.
2019
A cuvee first made in 2017 when frosts drastically reduced yields in some of their sites. They liked the blend so much they have kept it in 2018. 100% Chenin Blanc grown on three sites, Rogeries, Grand Vau and Clos des Gabouchons composed of schists, volcanic rhyolites, and quartz. Fermented and aged in stainless steel for 12 months. Super nose, rich and complex citrus and floral aromas. Well balanced with an interplay between ripe fruit and vibrant acidity, with a cool saline mineral finish. Really impressive.
2018
100% Chenin Blanc. The Rogeries vineyard sits on silt and sand over volcanic rock, Rhyolite, and is known for giving complex powerful wines. Full bodied and broad, like a Meursault perhaps, but without any oak, Chenin’s acidity balances the power and gives lift and energy. Grows wonderfully in the glass developing complex fruit and mineral notes. A wine to drink now and over the next 5-8 years. Bénédicte told me this is her favourite wine to drink with scallops and that it was an excellent foil for sushi.
2018
100% Chenin. Lying on the opposite, north, bank of the Loire, the Bigottière vineyard’s green shale, sandstone and quartz gives a taut, lean wine that seems packed with energy and potential. Less open and expressive than the Rogieres now, it is an impressive, sculptural wine with a great future ahead. Some older oak barrels are used for ageing here, rounding the texture. The Chablis Grand Cru to the Rogieres Meursault perhaps? This wine was open in my fridge for a week – I tasted it over several days and it got better and better, a sign of great potential I feel. A wonderful experience now though, it would be terrific with shellfish.
2018
Red WinesVintage
100% Gamay grown on sandstone and quartz shale. A few whole bunches, stainless steel fermentation and ageing. No filtration, so there will be some sediment. Gamay gives a relatively dark meaty wine here, fuller than one might expect, but still with its characteristic fruit and freshness, and still well suited to chilling a little. I enjoyed its spice and blackberry fruit, and its fine, gentle tannin would work well with simple rustic cheeses and pate. Lovely sense of unforced nature here, no make-up.
2018
Another 100% Gamay wine from the same site, but from the oldest vines. This is produced from a higher proportion of whole bunches which have brought a violet perfume and touch of pepper, it is more refined, less meaty than the Châteliers, showing lifted red fruits and layers of mineral and spice. No new oak used during its nine months maturation, bottled with no filtration. Although a more elegant wine than the Châteliers, it would still be happiest with hearty foods, perhaps refined somewhat a la Bocuse!
2018
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