Friends from Saumur

Mélaric / L' Austral / Folle Berthe / Château Tour Grise

Phillippe Gourdon

Phillippe Gourdon

Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame, Loire, France

Our friends from Saumur all have something in common: They are connected through Phillippe Gourdon (Château Tour Grise) - a pioneer in biodynamic farming. After Phillippe retired they have started renting off bits of his vineyard to new, younger generation winemakers in an attempt to keep the blood flowing in Saumur. So, what's the story?

Melanie Hunin, from Paris, and Aymeric Hillaire, from Saumur, established Domaine Melaric (a weaving of their names) in 2006 at the Chateau de Baugé, near the village of Puy-Notre-Dame. In 2008, they purchased four hectares of vineyards in Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame with advice from Philippe Gourdon.

Laurent and Pauline (Domaine L'Austral) worked for one year as engineers in France but were not very happy stuck in front of a computer. They travelled and worked in Australia in different farms and in a winery on the west coast. Pauline then studied in Burgundy to become an enologist. During her first internship, Pauline worked with Melaric who introduced them to Françoise and Philippe Gourdon in Le Puy-Notre-Dame, who in turn had vines to lease.

David Foubert (Domaine Folle Berthe), formerly a Parisien journalist, moved to Saumur for a life change and to study winemaking. Aymeric and Melanie have been a key influence; Melanie was David’s teacher at winemaking school, and David’s first vintage in 2014 was made in their cellar. David moved into his own – once-abandoned but now lovingly restored – cellar in 2015. He now farms a mix of parcels leased from Philippe. 

Château Tour Grise

Château Tour Grise

Phillippe's eight-hectare vineyard is made up of six hectares of Cabernet Franc and one each of Chenin Blanc and Pineau D’Aunis. It has been entirely biodynamic since 1998, a crucial status for Phillippe, who wants to create wines that express a true sense of their terroir. In the vineyard life flourishes; the grass remains long and wild all summer long; the vines remain untrimmed and are treated with various special herbal tea preparations of nettles, presses and willows to keep sickness at bay.

The weather systems coming in off the Atlantic are forced upwards by the Mauges hills to the west of Anjou. This causes a rain shadow which gives Saumur more of a continental climate. Le-Puy – being practically the most southerly point – averages less than 200mm/year. The elongated growing season this allows enables the wines to achieve ripeness.


Wines now in stock

Domaine Mélaric

NEW 2016 Billes de Roches  - Chenin
Some serious Chenin, soft balanced use of oak. Lean and tense.

NEW  2011 Liquoreux de la Cerisaie  - Chenin   
Powerful, intense and deep with a spicy, savoury edge to the concentrated raisin and marmalade flavours. Incredible concentration and notes of straw, herb and syrup. 

Domaine Folle Berthe

2016 Petit Berthe  - Pineau d'Aunis
Bright, showing just a touch of development. Slightly more body than Pineau d'Aunis from more northerly vineyards, still with characteristic redcurrant fruit and a white pepper finish.

Domaine L' Austral

NEW 2017 Manta  - Cab Franc 
Whole grape vatting. Alcoholic fermentation in indigenous yeasts, nine-month ageing in concrete eggs.

NEW 2017 Jolie Brise Blanc - Chenin 
Direct pressing, alcoholic fermentation in indigenous yeasts. Beginning of the alcoholic fermentation in the tank, finishing in the bottle.

NEW 2017 Jolie Brise Rosé - Cab Franc  
Direct pressing for half of the grapes and short maceration (about three hours) for the other half. This is what gives the intense colour and structure in the mouth. Alcoholic fermentation in indigenous yeasts, beginning of the alcoholic fermentation in vats, finishing in the bottle.

2016 - Cuvee 253 - Cab Franc 
Planted in 2002-03. Manual harvest, Destemmed. Maceration for 60 days – infusion only, indigenous yeasts, aged nine months in concrete eggs.

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