Wednesday, 19 July 2017 17:44

16 of Pascaline's Top Producer Picks in the Loire Valley

Written by Julien Camus

Master sommelier and Loire valley native, Pascaline Lepeltier, has been working with key Loire producers over the past months in preparation for the October 2017 Loire Wine Study Trip.

Take a look at her notes on this carefully curated list of both iconic and rising star estates/producers in the Loire Valley

An interesting read to get you re-acquainted with some of the more historically famed estates as well as introduce you to some of the new generation vintners who are pushing boundaries and defining the region’s vinous future…


  • Domaine VACHERON – Sancerre
    This historic Sancerre estate was one of the pioneers of biodynamic farming and the movement to create single vineyard designations based on soil type in the Loire Valley. Producers of excellent red and white wines, Jean-Dominique and Jean-Laurent Vacheron continue to push boundaries in pursuit of the highest quality.
  • Domaine Vincent PINARD – Sancerre
    Having achieved a cult status and following in France, this winery is still relatively unknown in the U.S. The estate, run by Clement and Florent Pinard is located in the South of the appellation. It crafts spectacular wines, particularly very complex Pinots Noirs.
  • Domaine Gerard BOULAY – Chavignol
    Carefully and organically farming some of the most emblematic vineyards of Sancerre – Les Culs de Beaujeu, Les Monts Damnes and La Grande Cote in Chavignol – Gerard Boulay is without a doubt one of the top vignerons of the appellation. Thanks to a very sensitive and “light-touch” vinification style, he enhances and reveals the nuances of Sauvignon Blanc on Kimmeredgian marls like no one else.
  • Domaine Francois CHIDAINE – Montlouis-sur-Loire / Vouvray
    A key figure in the rise of Montlouis as a benchmark for Chenin, Francois Chidaine is crafting Chenin from both sides of the Loire, farming biodynamically more than 37 hectares of vineyards. Exploring styles that range from bone dry to late-harvest and bubbles, the precision between the different terroirs and the nuances of Chenin is impressive there.
  • Domaine La GRANGE TIPHAINE – Montlouis-sur-Loire / Amboise
    Considered the rising star of the new generation of winemakers in this area, Damien Delecheneau is organically farming Chenin, Sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Cot (Malbec), and Gamay across different appellations. This estate serves as a fantastic example of the Loire’s capacity for producing diverse and age worthy wines-from Rosé to Pét-Nat (pétillant naturel) to dry & late harvest Chenin and fantastic Cot.
  • Domaine Vincent CAREME – Vouvray
    Another star from the new generation, Vincent’s estate is located in the eastern part of Vouvray, where he focuses solely on Chenin from old vines on his family’s prestigious vineyard, Le Clos.
  • Domaine Bernard BAUDRY – Chinon
    Located in Cravant-les-Coteaux, in the heart of the Chinon appellation, Father and son team, Bernard and Matthieu, are recognized as masters of Cabernet Franc and Chenin. In their cellar dug into the tuffeau cliff, they express the beauty of their limestone terroir which allows them to craft age-worthy, delicate and aromatic Cabernet Franc wines.
  • Domaine Catherine & Pierre BRETON – Bourgueil / Chinon
    Catherine (from Vouvray) and Pierre (from Bourgueil) are icons not only of Cabernet Franc, but also of the biodynamic and natural wine movements. They have also spearheaded the push for a heavier focus on the importance of soils. Tasting with Catherine and Pierre provides an opportunity to better understand how the different types of soil (limestone and sandy soils) and different vineyard sites (Bourgueil and Chinon) affect Cabernet.
  • Domaine HUET – Vouvray
    One of the most historic estates in the Loire Valley and France, Domaine Huet has been an extraordinary reference for Chenin since the early 1900’s. The domaine has three vineyards situated on Vouvray’s ‘Première Côte’ (Le Haut Lieu, Le Mont and Le Clos du Bourg) which they farm biodynamically. Huet is recognized as producing some of the greatest white wines in the world.
  • Domaine du CLOSEL – Savennières
    In the heart of Savennières, on the right bank of the Loire, Evelyne de Jessey is one of the most vocal advocates for Chenin, especially dry Chenin grown on schist soils. She also, interestingly, nurtures old vines of Verdelho, a grape planted as a trial as the end of the 19th century after phylloxera hit
  • Domaine aux Moines / Tessa Laroche – Savennieres-Roche Aux Moines
    After studying winemaking in Champagne, Tessa came back to the family estate, a beautiful property holding only Savennieres-Roche Aux Moines vineyards, and converted the vineyards over to organic. Her improvements were extraordinary, and today she makes some of the most pure, elegant and complex expressions of chenin on schist, while leading the way for others on this side of the Loire.
  • Domaine des Roches Neuves / Thierry GERMAIN – Saumur-Champigny / Saumur
    Hailing from Bordeaux, Thierry, inspired by the work of the Foucault brothers, arrived in Saumur at the age of 23 and took the appellation by storm. Today, after more than 20 years in the region, he biodynamically farms over 28 hectares and crafts superbly nuanced Cabernet Franc and Chenin.
  • Domaine des GRANDES VIGNES – Bonnezeaux / Anjou
    As we enter the Anjou Noir, where limestone gives place to schist, J.F Vaillant is returning nobility to the botrytis affected appellation of Bonnezeaux. Discover the beauty of noble rot and the Chenin that has been grown on schist, thanks to this biodynamic estate.
  • Domaine de l’ECU – Muscadet Sèvre & Maine
    Historically run by the famed Guy Bossard who was the first to farm organically and biodynamically in the region. Guy also initiated soil type research- granite / gneiss / orthogneiss – proving that Melon de Bourgogne can be extraordinarily transparent to terroir. Today the Estate continues its explorative and progressive work, under the guidance of Fred Niger van Herck
  • Domaine de la Pepière / Marc OLLIVIER – Muscadet Sèvre & Maine
    Marc Ollivie has been quietly crafting benchmark age-worthy Muscadet for more than 30 years. Joined today by Remy Granger and Gwenaelle Croix, the estate is exploring the potential of the new classification of “Crus Communaux” with their Clisson (granite), Château-Thébaud (granite), Monnières-Saint-Fiacre (gneiss) and Gorges (gabbro) vineyards.
  • Domaine de la Louvetrie / Jo LANDRON
    With his dashing mustache and winning smile, Jo has been a fantastic ambassador for Muscadet all over the world. Organically farming more than 40 hectares, his famous “Fief du Breil” is the undeniable proof that 20+ year old Muscadet can rival Chablis and other prestigious Chardonnays.



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Julien Camus

Founder & President @ Wine Scholar Guild

Julien worked as Trade Attaché for wines and spirits at the French Embassy in Washington DC (2004-2006). In this role, he recognized the need for French wine education as a means to spur consumer demand and interest in his country’s wines.

To that end, he founded the Wine Scholar Guild in August of 2005,an organization dedicated to the promotion of French wine and culture through education. Julien invited national importers of French wine to join the organization as Industry Members and 25 key French wine importers did so immediately.

After leaving the embassy, he has devoted his energies to developing the Wine Scholar Guild and its network of program providers around the globe. Julien holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration with a major in International Marketing from the Strasbourg Management School.

In 2019, Julien was one of the "Future 50" award winners, an award created by WSET and IWSC to acknowledge professionals under 40 who have made a significant contribution to the industry.

The opinions and views expressed in blog posts are those of the author of the post and do not necessarily represent the views of The Wine Scholar Guild or constitute any part of its educational programs.

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