Guide to the Loire regions

Val du Loir

Producer Profiles – Coteaux du Vendômois

Domaine du Four à Chaux

The Norguets are an old Vendômois family that dates back seven generations. The history of the domaine’s name goes back to 1767 when a limekiln was established here. Today, the farm is in the hands of Dominique and his wife Sylvie. Apart from being the largest independent grower in the appellation, working 30 hectares of vines (which accounts for 10% of the production), they also grow cereals and raise cattle for market. Dominique has a formal qualification in viticulture, having studied at the Lycée Viticole in Beaune and also worked with Henry Marionnet in the Sologne to gain some practical experience before returning to the family business.

Wine Overview :
Of the 30 hectares of vines, only two are actually owned by the Norguets, the rest are on long term lease. Of these, only half are dedicated to the appellation Coteaux du Vendômois with the balance being vinified as Vin de Pays: Chardonnay and Sauvignon for the whites, and Côt and Cabernet Sauvignon for the reds. All the six hectares of Gamay that they work is sold off en vrac. The appellation wines are produced from 5 hectares of Pineau d’Aunis, four hectares of Cabernet Franc and two hectares of Chenin. The wines are raised in a modern purpose built cellar on the plateau, although they retain several old caves down by the railway siding in Thoré. The wines are all fermented and aged in concrete and stainless steel and all are bottled around Easter following the vintage – although the 2008 white and gris had already been rushed into bottle by the time of my visit in early December: a testimony of the demand for the wines.

The Wines :
With a loyal and dedicated local market that absorbs all the production, and with effectively no wine to sell, the Norguets wine business is a sound one. The wines are made to be drunk on release and the demands of such a market dictate that they need to be instantly approachable. In the mid 1990s, Domaine du Four à Chaux was considered the leading producer in the then aspiring appellation, and that may well have been the case, but the motivation to progress and create anything beyond a basic level of quality doesn’t appear to exist. These are good, sound commercial wines, but no more than this.

2008 Coteaux du Vendômois Blanc
Very clean and fresh with primary Chenin aromas of pear skin and apples. Clean, with a steely, fresh acidity on the palate. Well balanced, if simple. Good early drinking style. (12/08)

2008 Coteaux du Vendômois Gris
Pale, salmon pink. Clean, light, fresh and very simple with primary aromas on the nose. It shows good pepper and spice, a true indication of the variety. Light and short on the finish. Destined to be quaffed over the next year. (12/08)

2007 Coteaux du Vendômois Rouge 
A ‘traditional’ blend of Cabernet Franc, Pineau d’Aunis and Pinot Noir with the final assemblage being done after the malolactic fermentation is complete. The wine is raised in tank. Polished. Youthful purple-red with a pale pink rim. Attractive, light red fruit on the nose. It’s not obvious that Pineau d’Aunis is present here. Distinctly carbonic maceration in use here. Light on entry and is a little herbal and leafy. Clean, well balanced and juicy with very soft tannins. The Beaujolais style ensures it tastes more like Gamay than anything else. Well made and competent, but lacks any real sense of origin. (12/08)

2007 Coteaux du Vendômois Rouge ‘Cuvée Benjamin’
From a 1.5 hectare parcel of Pineau d’Aunis. This is a mono-cépage wine raised in concrete tanks. The juice undergoes a 10-20% saignée to help concentrate the resulting wine. Bright. Mid-depth. Youthful appearance. Pink to the rim. Attractive, light nose with good, pure varietal expression. Distinctive, with quite gamey, meaty aromas. The ‘organic’ flavours appear on the palate, and the wine is a little rough around the edges. Chalky textured. Drinking now, but could benefit with a little more ageing. Decent. (12/08) 

Domaine du Four á Chaux
Sylvie & Dominique Norguet
Berger
Thoré-la-Rochette
T: + 33 2 54 77 12 52
F: + 33 2 54 80 23 22
Norguet.dominique@wanadoo.fr

www.domaine-four-a-chaux.com

 

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