France, Loire-Atlantique, La Chapelle-Glain
Xavière Hardy is a tough, determined woman who makes amazing juice while leaving as little mark on the land as possible.
She hasn’t taken an easy path. There were no vines for miles around her village - La Chapelle-Glain, about 60km north of Nantes. In fact, planting vines there was officially forbidden. That wasn't about to stop Xavière, who refused to be deterred from her dream of a career change after 20 years running her own business
Enlisting the help of Ancenis grower Jacque Caroger, she lobbied the local council, who eventually relented and gave her permission to plant her vineyard. After analysing the terroir she chose Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Grolleau.
Les Terres Bleues is the name – reflecting the blue schist that predominates on her 1.5-hectare plot. Her plants (around 8,000 per hectare) are trained in the Albarello style, common on Mount Etna.
With help from family and friends, each vine was individually staked with a whacking great lump of wood. This type of training gives all-day exposure to the sun, very helpful in this northerly location.
Connection to the plant is paramount:
"The vines are grown organically. I work as naturally as possible, I take care of my vines according to the lunar calendar with nettle, comfrey, horsetail, oak bark, willows and many other plants. I also apply biodynamic preparations since the establishment of the vineyard in 2013 [DEMETER certification was requested and obtained in 2019]. The objective is to allow the vine to strengthen its own resistance to disease but also to improve exchanges between soil micro-organisms and its root system. I attach great importance to the vine itself but also to the ecosystem in which it is part."
How did 2018 treat you?
”2018 was an excellent year. The harvest brought great quality grapes thanks to the beautiful sunshine we've had. As every year, the harvest was manual, all the wines were vinified without any oenological inputs and without sulphur.”
What do you expect from this year's harvest ?
”A good harvest quality due to the weather. Unfortunately, the spring frost and the summer drought we've had this year will have an impact on the volumes harvested, particularly for Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. For the Grolleau the impact is less, the harvest should be beautiful and qualitative.”
What is your favorite vintage so far and why?
”I have been producing wine only since 2015, since I planted the vineyard from scratch in 2013. I really enjoyed 2015 (my first little vintages of Pinot noir and Pinot gris) and 2018 which was a great year (2016 = frost; 2017 = frost). For 2019, I start harvesting tomorrow, September 17.”
Which wines do you like to drink in addition to yours?
”The sulphur-free Gamay by Jacques and Agnès Carroget (La Paonnerie in Anetz) and the Muscadet by Stéphane Orieux (Vallet).”
What can you tell us about your plans for the future?
”Invest in a wind tower to fight frost (the order was placed for installation in spring 2020). In 2019 I also planted an additional half hectare of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir in order to have more wine on these two varieties because I have a very small estate[1.5 ha including this young plantation].”
Now in stock
NEW 2018 AWA - Pinot Gris
"Direct pressing (pneumatic press), alcoholic fermentation in vats with indigenous yeasts (8-10 days) then matured in barrels for eight months. Sulphur-free."
NEW 2018 Vin du Pastre - Grolleau
"From a young vine planted in 2014, which froze in 2016 and 2017 - the harvest was therefore abundant in 2018. Totally destemmed by hand with wicker destemmers that I had made by a basket maker. Vatting for 10 days (fermentation with indigenous yeasts) then maturing in barrels for 8 months. Sulphur-free."
NEW 2018 XH2 - Pinot Noir
"Maceration in vats (fermentation with indigenous yeasts - 10 days). Pressed then matured in barrels for eight months. Sulphur-free."
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