Guide to the Loire regions

Côte Roannaise

Grower Profiles

Le Retour Aux Sources
The brothers Pluchot have been making wine in their purpose built, ecologically sound cellar since 2005. Both in their mid twenties, they look more like adolescents of an age which would suggest they are not legally allowed to drink wine, let alone make it. Edgar – who studied viticulture at the lycée viticole in Macon for four years – takes charge of the cellar, whilst Marc-Antoine, who works for a caviste in Roanne for three days a week, concentrates his efforts on the marketing. 

Although their grandparents originate from Saint-Alban-les-Eaux, the boys come to the region as first generation vignerons. They farm a total of eight hectares of vines in the neighbouring villages of Saint-André-d’Apchon and Villemontais, but no one parcel is further than three kilometres from the cellar. Everything, bar a single of hectare of Gamay that is destined for rosé, is harvested by hand and yields are deliberately kept down to around 38hl/ha.

The majority (5.5ha) of the vines are rented; two parcels from different retired vignerons and another from a grower who doesn’t want to harvest grapes for his own wines by hand. The oldest vineyard is a half-hectare parcel of Gamay Saint-Romain planted in Saint-André in the first decade of the 20th Century; vines rented from what the Pluchots describe as a vraie paysan. In addition to Gamay, they have also established half a hectare of Chardonnay for Vin de Pays.

The new cellar is on the site of an old one, which fifty years ago was apparently surrounded by vineyards. It is situated down on the plain below Saint-Alban, which was once the most densely planted commune in the Roannaise. Testament to this is three derelict maisons des vignes which can be seen close to the cellar. Today, the plain is planted to cereals.

Edgar Pluchot employs what he describes as ‘traditional vinification’ methods, fermenting the juice in a combination of stainless steel and fibre glass tanks using (except for the rosé) indigenous yeasts. Their first vintage was in 2005 and they are currently producing around 25,000 bottles a year at present, although a proportion is also sold off en vrac. Their objective is to be producing (and hopefully selling) 60,000 bottles by 2012.

There are currently five wines produced here - three of which take the names of their grandparents - Louis and Suzanne Robin. The ‘Louis Robin’ rosé employs equal amounts of saignée and pressurage direct and partly goes through malolactic fermentation. A second rosé, ‘Suzanne Robin’, is sold as Vin de Pays d’Urfé Rosé Demi-Sec. It comes from a single vineyard in the plain, but with around 30g/l of residual sugar it is not entitled to the appellation and declassified. Both are competent, if not particularly exciting. Of the three reds, the ‘Louis Robin’ comes from 50 year old vines that yield around 30hl/ha and fermented for around ten days utilising natural yeasts. ‘Le Partage’ is a light and fruity red produced from younger vines, whilst L’Héritage comes from the 90 year old parcel of Gamay Saint-Romain. This sees fifteen days of maceration and is bottled unfiltered. The 2006 was a little too extracted and drying. It was not produced in 2007.

Edgar et Marc-Antoine Pluchot
Les Echaux
T: + 33 4 77 63 18 49
P: + 33 6 82 42 61 53
P: + 33 6 74 50 51 24

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