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.
About the Domaine
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.