Guide to the Loire regions

Côte Roannaise

Grower Profiles

Maurice Thinon
Maurice Thinon is an industrious little man in his sixties who simply can’t stand still. I was told, before arranging my meeting, that I’d be only able to see him in the hours of darkness (this was January, so before 08h30 or after 16h00). My appointment was set for 14h00 and as I drove up the road towards the cellar, he was out pruning his vines and he came running over to greet me. We tasted through the tank samples of 2008 that he had already drawn, which were duly noted, and I think he asked me more questions than I asked him.

Thinon’s grandfather made wines in the Roannaise, although in a different commune. He has three children of his own, but each has a career outside of wine and none show any interest in the domaine going forward, so he might be the third generation, but I suspect he might also be the last.

He started his domaine in 1975 buying a smallholding on the lower slope south of Villemontais which already had four hectares of Gamay established. In addition to planting a further six hectares, he also began by raising Charolais cattle, something he has continued to do. Between 1975 and 1985, he worked the vines using horses, but these were phased out in preference for tractors. This meant having to reorganise the vineyards to accommodate the machinery and as a result he grubbed most of the older vines up. His vines, therefore, are relatively young at around 20 years of age. The vines themselves are all within one continuous slope at the side of the house and cellar, and despite bringing technology into the vineyard, he still elects to harvest by hand.

Although an 18th century farm building acts as the cellar, all of the equipment was bought new. The wines are made in a traditional style, although he uses commercial yeasts (he believes indigenous yeasts are too risky) and everything is fermented in cement tanks. He makes a little rosé in a fibre glass tank which accounts for about 10% of his production. There is only one red cuvée, but he performs three separate bottlings, in February, April and July, which tend to determine the style; the early examples being more the fruity.

Thinon’s sales are primarily to private clients who come knocking on his door, but he also does sell the the grande surface in France. He clearly has a good market for his wines as he had nothing to sell when we met. The fact that he chooses to crop at the full limit permitted by the appellation shows, and his wines can be a bit weedy and dilute. These wines are more within the style and quality of generic Beaujolais, rather than any comparison to its crus.

Maurice Thinon
Domaine de Mayençat
T: + 33 4 77 63 32 86

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