Villargeau, Coteaux du Giennois

Visiting the Centre Loire, on the trail of great Sauvignon, part 2

The Coteaux de Giennois is a small appellation in the centre Loire next to Pouilly Fumé. There are just 200 hectares of vines here, with 40 winegrowers and 20 producers with cellars. We visited with Marc Thibault.

Marc Thibault 

Marc's grandfather bought the farm that is now Villargeau from Château de Tracy in 1920, and grew cattle and cereal. In 1991 his father and uncle decided to diversify and planted vineyards on abandoned hillsides that previously had vines before phylloxera hit in the late 19th century.

This is the Lagarde vineyard

Marc returned after studies and began working at Villargeau in 2002, and the domaine now has 23 hectares of vines, 18 of which are planted with Sauvignon Blanc, and the remaining 5 are a mix of Pinot Noir and Gamay. There is potential for the domaine to increase over the next 5 years.

In the Chicago vineyard

The Giennois has lots of small hills, and typically the vineyards are planted on the top of these, where the soils are more suitable for vines. There can be a mix of soils in the same plot, but typically you find Kimmeridgean marl over limestone/clay. But there can be silex and clay, or chalk and clay. It depends.

The first vineyard we saw was Lagarde, which is half Sauvignon and half Pinot/Gamay. The second was Chicago: this was named as a thank you to the Americans who shipped over rootstock after phylloxera, and the boxes that arrived here came from Chicago. The third was Rosières, which was silex over chalk. The vineyards have been certified sustainable by Terra Vitis for five years now.

Flint in the Rosieres vineyard

After pruning, above, and pruning, below

Most of the Sauvignon is machine-picked. They then press it, settle for 12-24 hours, no fining, but they sometimes use enzymes. They inoculate with Champagne yeast. They used to do some wild ferments, but now they need to finish the ferment quickly if they have high maturity. The maturity can cause difficulty finishing ferments, and if the end is slow, they lose some aromas and freshness. 15-18 C fermentation temperature is typical.


Domaine de Villargeau 2015 Coteaux de Giennois, Loire, France
Blend of 80% flint, 20% chalk. Lively, fruity and stony with a vivid, brisk personality and good acidity. There's a brightness to this wine, with attractive citrus and green apple notes as well as a hint of grapey richness. Has finesse. 90/100 (€9.50 retail)

Domaine de Villargeau 2016 Coteaux de Giennois, Loire, France
On lees in tank. Supple, youthful, bright and flnty with nice citrus and pear fruit. Very fresh with nice concentration. A really good vintage. 89-91/100

Domaine de Villargeau Sans Complexe 2014 Coteaux de Giennois, Loire, France
At the bottom the hillside with clay/limestone soils, with plenty of limestone. Complex, nervy, green-tinged pear and citrus fruit. Has a lovely delicacy and well integrated acidity. Lovely fine herbal notes with a bright, fresh finish. Finesse here. 91/100

Domaine de Villargeau Fernand & Sons Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Coteaux de Giennois, Loire, France
New brand. Flint vineyard. Taut, subtly green and nicely weighted with pure citrus and pear fruit, showing nice texture in the mouth and subtle herbal hints. Nice stony edge to it. 90/100

Domaine de Villargeau La Belle Parresseuse 2013 Coteaux de Giennois, Loire, France
Selected grapes hand harvested, pressed, settled and put in barrels of 300-400 litres. Leave it for one year, wild ferment. Lovely intensity here: spice, nuts and minerals with hints of honey. Really powerfula and precise showing some depth and also good acidity. From flint soil. 92/100

Domaine de Villargeau L'Insolite Rouge 2014 Coteaux de Giennois, Loire, France
Mainly Gamay. Light-bodied. Supple, sappy and stony with juicy red cherries and herbs. Some leafy greenness here. Has a grainy, stony personality with some savouriness. Good acidity and a bit of grip. Juicy and very drinkable. 89/100

Domaine de Villargeau Les Licotes Rouge 2015 Coteaux de Giennois, Loire, France
Mainly Pinot Noir. Enticing, floral cherry fruits on the nose. Stony and grippy on the palate with fresh acidity, some greenness and bright, sappy cherry and plum fruit. Quite structured and very stony in character. Needs a bit of time. 88/100

Part 1, Henri Bourgeois

Part 2, Villargeau

Wines tasted 03/17  
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