Guide to the Loire regions

Touraine Azay-le-Rideau

Grower Profiles

Nicolas Paget
Nicolas Paget can date his viticultural roots back five generations and although the family originates from Riverennes, they are equally recognised for their holdings in Chinon after vineyards were acquired through the marriage of his great-grandfather, Ferdinand Paget. Typically, for the start of the last century, their holdings included both orchards and vineyards and it was Ferdinand’s son, Francis, who during a period of rationalization of the nations orchards instigated a conservatoire to protect threatened varieties of pear and at the same time establishing the association for the village’s most renowned produce; the poire tapée. In 1983, Francis gave way to his son James who, along with the Chinon vineyards inherited ten hectares within the Azay-le-Rideau boundary. Together, James and his wife Genèvive, ran the domaine together until the arrival of the youthful looking Nicolas in 2001. James, now officially retired, still manages to keep an eye on his son’s progress. Nicolas clearly has a love of the land and understand the potential he can extract from the vines. His approach is very natural and is currently in the process of converting his vineyards to organic.

There are now five hectares of vines dedicated to the Touraine Azay-le-Rideau appellation, plus a further 7.5 hectares for the production of a pair of Touraine Méthode Traditionelle wines which use both Chenin and Grolleau as their base. Red wines, produced under the Touraine appellation, are made from Cabernet Franc and Côt.

Whilst James and Francis had to hone their winemaking skills working in a series of small caves hewn out of the rock, finance was found, in 2004, to allow Nicolas the luxury of erecting a purpose built warehouse-cellar where the hand picked grapes are now delivered, although the tufa cellars are still utilized for the barrel aged wines which are allowed to follow a slower and more natural course.

The range begins with Syncopette, a sparkling wine which uses Chenin as its base. Bottled in January, it receives the basic nine months on its secondary lees before dégorgement. The Syncopette Rosé, made solely from Grolleau, receives the same treatment.

Paget remains a great believer in Grolleau and he sees it as a variety that receives only bad press but, when handled sympathetically and planted in the right location, it is capable of delivering its full (if still relatively modest) potential. His commitment is evident in the fact that he produces two rosés made solely from this cépage. The first, Arpège, a Touraine Azay-le-Rideau is fermented in stainless steel and bottled the following March with just a few grams of residual sugar, whilst the Gourmandise, comes from his older vines and is released (in a rather silly shaped bottle) slightly later. It too retains some residual sugar (around 8g/l). The white Mélodie is from young vines and fermented in stainless steel. It is kept on its fine lees before being bottled in the spring following the harvest with the resulting wine carrying around five grams of residual sugar. Opus is from older vines and is fermented in barrel for around six months. The wine receives no batonnage and is bottled in May following the harvest. All of the wines above carry the Touraine Azay-le-Rideau appellation.

In terms of red wines, there is a basic Touraine Rouge Tradition, produced from a blend of two parts Cabernet Franc to one part Côt which is released early for summer quaffing. A second red Touraine, Côtcerto is 100% Malbec planted by Francis between 30 and 40 years ago in the warmer, sandier soils where maturity never seems an issue. The resulting wine aged in barrel for around one year. 

Paget's Chinon vineyards at the rear of the Clos de l'Echo

There are two separate cuvées of Chinon. The first, Ferdinand, is a hommage to his great-grandfather and comes from three hectares of 50 year old vines planted on both the plain and slopes around Cravant-les-Côteaux. The wine is raised in stainless steel and follows the classic Chinon formula; one spring bottling and a second just before the harvest. The second wine, Symphonique, is from 1.5 hectares of 60 year old vines located immediately behind the Clos de l’Echo. The wines are aged in 3rd to 5th fill barrels for 15 months before release.

This is one of the two best addresses in the Azay-le-Rideau appellation with Nicolas also simultaneously producing very good examples of Chinon. His wines come recommended. As a postscript, two older wines, produced by James Paget, a 1996 Chinon and a 2000 Touraine Azay-le-Rideau blanc tasted at the Le Grand Monarque in Azay in June 2011 were both still in very good condition, thus proving the durability and quality of their wines. 

Nicolas Paget
7 Route de la Gadouillère
T: + 33 2 47 95 54 02
F: + 33 2 47 95 45 90

Back to top