Guide to the Loire regions

Chinon

Grower Profiles



Wilfred Rousse

Rousse is a wine-lover turned vigneron who started out in 1988, initially renting one hectare of vines; he now works a total of 19 hectares, ten of which are under his ownership. Spread across the communes of Savigny, Beaumont and Chinon, all have been certifed organic from the 2011 vintage. 

He moved into his existing premises, La Halbardière, located on the road that straggles through the various smallholdings of Savigny in 1994, erecting a purpose-built cuverie on site soon afterwards. The original homestead dates from the 17th Century and was once topped with a weathervane decorated with a crowned sirène (mermaid) holding a fish, the image of which can be found on his wine labels.
In addition to the Savigny cellar, Rousse shares a massive cave, hidden away in the very centre of Beaumont, with a few other vignerons and amateurs du vin using the facility for the barrel-aged wines and for storing his bottled stock. Each of the galleries within the cavern are around 1.5 hectares in size and nine metres high in some places. For ease, it's necessary to access the the cave by vehicle and Rousse takes great delight showing visitors to his domaine around them and opening old bottles on a whim. 

The vineyards here range from between five to fifty years old. There is a single rosé produced which, as its title suggests, is produced via the saignée method. Rather than having a dedicated parcel of young vines or a specific plot on the sandy soils of the peninsular, Rousse prefers to systematically draw juice off each pressing which probably helps to explain the overall quality and concentration of his reds. There is a limited amount of tank fermented Chinon blanc, produced from 0.25ha within Les Picasses and known by the name of the lieu-dit: Cinq Pères. Of the four Chinon rouge, Les Galuches comes from five hectares of vines which shares its name with the large parcel of vines on the Loire side of the Savigny peninsular. Les Galuches is raised in tank and bottled in the spring following the vintage. The cuvée Terroir is sourced from the limestone heights above Beaumont from vines that range between 30 and 50 years. The wine is raised in the cellars below the village in 400 litre barrels for around one year. Les Puys comes from a 3.3 hectares on the higher slopes of Chinon; the parcel being shared with the nearby Château de la Grille. It too is raised in oak. Finally, Le Clos de la Roche is a 2.17 hectare plot on the western side of Beaumont. Set on a rocky plateau, the soil here is less than half a metre deep before the vines penetrate the mother-rock. It's a distinguished parcel that once belonged to the nearby Château de Velors, who also owned the caverns directly below the vineyard where the wine would have historically been raised. Remnants of the old stone wall can be seen in places around the edge of the parcel, although the majority were removed for easier access at the onset of mechanisation. He wine produced from here is aged in 600 litre oak for a period of 18 months. 

Rousse is down-to-earth in his approach, straight-forward and with a sense of purpose. His name might not be on the tip of everyone's lips when it comes to discussing Chinon, but he deserves to be considered up alongside the greatest of the appellation. His wines are clean and pure, juicy and honest. Even the inevitable oak-aged examples are handled judiciously, with any wood well integrated into the wine. Rousse is certainly a name to search out.

Wilfred et Annie Rousse
La Halbardière
19-21 Route de Candes

SAVIGNY-EN-VÉRON
T: + 33 2 47 58 84 02
F: + 33 2 47 58 92 66
wilfrid.rousse@wanadoo.fr
www.chinonrousse.com
www.chinonrousseblog.com



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