Guide to the Loire regions

Chinon

Grower Profiles

Nicolas Grosbois
The ancestors of Nicolas Grosbois were installed at Le Pressoir, a very human-sized manor house (which happens to be classified as a monument historique) before the time of the Revolution. Nicolas himself has been here since 2005 after returning from ten years working as a travelling winemaker, gaining experience in locations as diverse as the Minervois, Chile, Oregon (Adelsheim), Australia (Brokenwood) and New Zealand (Pegasus Bay). His first vintage was in 2006 where he worked alongside his father, Jacques (who had previously been more inclined to sell off the production in cubitainer). Jacques retired, or at least withdrew, in 2008 allowing Nicolas to develop the domaine in the way he intended to continue and he is now in conversion to biodynamic farming. As fits his organic credentials, everything is hand harvested into small lug-boxes and Grosbois is not alien to the concept of picking in tries if necessary. 

There are a total of nine hectares of vines, all of them within striking reach of Le Pressoir which straddles the communes of Panzoult (7ha) and Cravant (2ha). Planted exclusively to Cabernet Franc, the age of the ceps range between 5 and 95 years old.

The cellar is incorporated into the manor and, reassuringly, there is not an oak barrel in sight (although he did experiment with a few in 2007 on one of his cuvées). It can hardly be considered modern or share any resemblance to the facilities he will have encountered in the New World, but it works. 

The production here is concentrated solely on the production of red wines - Nicolas understands that the soils of Panzoult are no place to plant Chenin Blanc - and any rosé released under the Grosbois label is from purchased wine (he appears to rather dismisses the style). There are a total of six wines, all raised in cuve, each corresponding to a specific parcel of vines, although his entry level generic Chinon Rouge (
distinguished by its black label) comes from organic grapes purchased from three growers who are currently in conversion (including Domaine de Beauséjour whose vineyards abut Le Pressoir). Le Clos du Noyer is an ancient 1.2 hectare lieu-dit which sits at the highest point of the slope, directly below the first line of the Chinon forest. Although the entrance still to the clos exists, the rest of the stone walls were dismantled at the onset of mechanisation; Nicolas intends at some point to repair them to their original state. The vines contained within are between 20 and 45 years old and sit on a terroir of millarges, the local name for sedimentary sand found exclusively along the slope at Panzoult. The Vieilles Vignes comes from 60 year old vines on a parcel of land just below the Clos Noyer next to the house and shares the same soil profile. Boeuf Alais is from the gravel terraces on the plain of Panzoult (this parcel was hailed out in 2009). La Cuisine de la Mère is a pseudo Beaujolais-style which receives a cold maceration prior to fermentation, producing a juicy, fresh and very much for immediate enjoyment. Finally, Gabare takes the name of the lieu-dit from where the grapes are sourced.

My tasting with Nicolas at Le Pressoir in April 2011 started with the 2010s which were still in tank and all of which appeared very successful despite him dismissing it as a very complicated vintage - he prefers his 2009s - which overall I found a little too confit and concentrated; a victim of the ripe vintage. I also found a little brettanomyces in one cuvée, to which Grosbois admitted, even though he was content to release it to his public. Despite this minor criticism, I look forward to tasting future vintages and seeing how this young vigneron progresses, since he is clearly one of the bright young stars of the appellation.

Nicolas Grosbois
Le Pressoir

PANZOULT
T: + 33 2 47 58 66 87
F: + 33 2 47 95 26 52
grosboisnicolas@yahoo.fr



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