Loire adventure: visiting the remarkable François Saint-Lô

François Saint-Lô

François Saint-Lô

The rain was easing as we arrived for an appointment with François Saint-Lô, but it was still a cold, damp day. Not ideal for tasting wine. There’s nothing fancy about his place, but it has a good feel about it. It’s a gem of a project: it seems like a wine-making commune, with a varied group of people living together and making wine under his leadership, with huge catherdral-like troglodyte cellars and no fancy modern equipment at all. Unconventional and very natural.


François has been making wine here for five years now (debut vintage was 2012). Originally from Normandy, he began working in restaurants in Paris, then made some wine in Montpellier, and then spent seven years travelling, working with a range of natural winemakers. Notably he worked with Olivier Cousin, and through him met Eric Dubois, with whom he worked for a couple of years. Dubois was instrumental in helping Francois set up on his own. The property he currently rents has lots of caves, which are ideal for vinifying wine because of the natural temperature control and humidity. He uses fibre glass tanks (they are cheaper) and old barrels. ‘I started with no money,’ he says, ‘but lots of people are helping me, and slowly I grow.’


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Like his mentors, François likes to work the vineyards with horses, and as his vineyards are currently 15 km away from the home base, he’d like to buy some vines a bit closer to save transporting the horse so far. The project is growing. In 2016 he made 10 000 bottles, and hopes to do double this in 2017.



We began by tasting some unfinished wines:

François Saint-Lô Hey Gro!! 2016 (in tank)
This is a Grolleau at 9% alcohol. So fresh and bright with red cherries and plums. Fresh, juicy, sappy and delicious. 90/100

François Saint-Lô Les Pallières Cabernet Franc 2015 (in barrel)
Spicy, intense , lively and edgy with juicy raspberry and red cherry fruit. Lively and detailed with real edges. Vivid, grippy and tannic with high acidity. 90/100

François Saint-Lô Le Bois Guyon Cabernet Franc 2015 (in barrel)
Powerful, lively and spicy with cherries and herbs. A bit meaty and with nice cherry and raspberry fruit. 90-92/100 

François Saint-Lô Les Fontenelles Chenin Blanc 2015 (in barrel)
Francois has had this vineyard for 2 years. It was dying: in the first year they got 8 hl/ha, and with some hard work they got 20 hl/ha the second year. Oxidative but with lovely pear and apple fruit and a fine spiciness. Very mineral with high acidity. 93/100

François Saint-Lô Gamin! 2016 Vin de France
Gamy. Sappy, bright, juicy and intense. Very fresh with a green edge. Grippy with good acidity. 89-91

François Saint-Lô Gamin! 2015 Vin de France
Supple and juicy with lovely red cherries and raspberries. Very fresh and delicate with nice pure light red fruits and lovely acidity. Very delicious and drinkable. 92/100

François Saint-Lô Simplement Nature (what is now Le Bois Guyon) 2013 Saumur
Very detailed, fresh and grippy with blackcurrants, cherries and raspberries. Fresh with some spiciness and lovely grippy structure. Pure with nice weight: a supple, gravelly wine. 93/100

François Saint-Lô Pette 2014
Pink bubbles. Gamay, Grolleau and Chenin. Fresh with supple cherries and nice pear and apple fruit. Fruity and juicy with a sappy edge. 88/100

François Saint-Lô Pet 2014
Chenin Blanc. Wonderfully spicy citrus and pear nose. Intense, tangy and herby on the palate with a nice savouryedge. So distinctive and dry with hints of cheese and spice, and lovely acidity. 90/100


Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

1 comment to Loire adventure: visiting the remarkable François Saint-Lô

  • I’m always sceptical when someone claims to have started a winery with “no money”: I wish this were possible! I suspect “relatively little money” would be more honest. Still, it’s good to read about such an interesting project.

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