Guide to the Loire regions

Châteaumeillant

Grower Profiles



Cave des Vins de Châteaumeillant
As with many marginal appellations, the co-operative is responsible for a significant proportion of the regions wines. Established in 1964, it represents the interests of 22 growers, many of whom have other livelihoods in both cereals and the raising of Charolais beef cattle. The largest single vigneron co-operateur delivers fruit from eight hectares of vines, whilst the smallest, the Frères Missionaires, tend eight ares that sit alongside the church in the centre of the town - their vines originally planted for the production of Communion wine.  


The church delivers its grapes to the co-op

The cellar itself is situated in a modern building just outside the town, on the road towards Culan, and operates with just three full time employees. Gilles Godin is Commercial Director, whilst Fabrice Deterne controls the winemaking.  

In 1990, there were 50 individuals who delivered grapes to the co-operative, but this has since shrunk back as decreasing profitability has led to many uprooting their vines. Today, the co-op is still responsible for processing 2,700 hectolitres of AC Châteaumeillant each year, representing around 50% of the appellation's production, or the equivalent of 360,000 bottles, although they do have a very active en-vrac and bag-in-box market. They also supply négociants, such as Sancerre based Henri Bourgeois with wine, which is trucked up to their Chavignol cellar and bottled there. This, at least, ensures that the appellation Châteaumeillant enjoys some limited exposure to international markets. 

WINE OVERVIEW:
Of the 55 hectares of Châteaumeillant vineyards, eight are planted to Pinot Noir and the balance is Gamay. They also take in some Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay that is bottled as Vin de Pays du Cher. All the various grape varieties are vinified separately. The reds are generally fermented and aged in cement, although they do have a few stainless steel tanks, and since 2005, they have pandered to local demand for oak aged reds and a few barrels can also be found in one corner of the cellar. Well over 90% of the harvest here is completed by machine. The proportion of red and gris produced can change from year to year, depending on demand, but in 2008 the harvest was split equally between the two styles.

THE WINES:
Like many co-operatives, it is usual to find the same wine bottled under a range of different labels. It is no different here. One range, ‘Domaine de Garennes’, is used for the cavistes, on trade and for private individuals, whilst others, like ‘Legier de la Chassaigne’ is sold to the likes of Nicolas.

The fact that these wines are destined primarily for the local market and consumed within the year after bottling, suggests that individual tasting notes are all but meaningless.

The basic reds here, whether under the Domaine de Garennes or other labels will contain about 10% Pinot Noir and be light and fresh. The gris is more neutral and primary and is based on around 80% Gamay. A ‘Vieilles Vignes’ cuvée will come from Gamay vines that are approaching 60 years of age, and their prestige bottling, ‘Sublimium’ is a blend containing around 40% Pinot Noir.

It is co-operatives like this at Châteaumeillant that help to create the image of the smaller wine producing regions beyond their immediate borders. Whilst these wines are not particularly exciting, they are at least sound and representative of what the appellation is all about.

Cave des Vins de Châteaumeillant
Gilles Godon – Respons
able Commercial
Cave du Tivoli
Route de Culan
Châteaumeillant
T: + 33 2 48 61 33 55
F: + 33 2 48 61 44 92
cave@chateaumeillant.com
www.chateaumeillant.com


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