Guide to the Loire regions


Grower Profiles

Domaine Geoffrenet-Morval

Fabien Geoffrenet is a dentist by profession, but he gave it up to pursue his passion. He made a career out of manufacturing false teeth, but now he cares for palates of a different kind. He was introduced to the area by Pierre Picot, a fellow outsider and first time vigneron. Knowing that his true vocation in life was to make wine, he enrolled for a one year viticultural course in Beaune in 1997 and then worked a stage with Bertrand Minchin at Domaine de la Tour Saint Martin in Menetou-Salon prior to investing in Châteaumeillant in March 2000. From the first modest purchase of 0.46 ares in the lieu-dit ‘les Combes’, by 2004 he had acquired seven hectares, and a decision needed to be made on his future. His dental practice was in Bourges, his home in Venemes (which now serves as his office and where he is also looking to reinstate lost vineyards), whilst at the same time tending his vines. The vines won.

His first year was the difficult 2004 vintage, but he has, with only a handful of seasons under his belt become the reference point within the appellation. Not a massive claim, perhaps, given the limited number of growers, but this is a significant achievement all the same. He also happens to be the only producer in the appellation to make a living from the vine alone.   During the next five years the domaine grew to 10.5 hectares; whilst some vines were planted by himself, he also bought up small parcels, allowing him access to vines that are approaching 60 years in age. 

Plantings are split 70% Gamay and 30% Pinot Noir, but he also has 20 ares of Pinot Gris which is vinified as gris. His vines are split over five plots on the plateau between the town of Châteaumeillant and La Bidore, the hamlet where he has erected a small cellar, whilst he rents the tasting room of the recently defunct Domaine du Parc (from the family of deceased grower, Jean-Pierre Bourdeau) on the main road through the town in an attempt to capture some passing trade.  

In 2010, however, Geoffrenet decided to split his domaine as part of a divorce settlement, selling off seven hectares to three growers in Quincy who were seeking to include a red wine within their own portfolios. His new partners include Nicolas Lecomte and Jean-Claude Roux, and they are setting up a separate company in order to vinify their crop, using Geoffrenets existing cellar, on the same co-operation system as is used at the Cave de Romane in Brinay.

Geoffrenet works his vineyards to organic principles. He prunes hard in winter and debuds in spring ensuring a low crop; he aims to harvest between 40 and 50hl/ha and in summer he only green harvests his younger vines. The harvest is all done by hand with grapes being picked in whole clusters and then being passed over a table de trie before destemming and a cold pre-fermentation maceration. He works the grapes very softly, using gravity throughout the winemaking process. The cuvaison involves both pigeage and remontage and lasts for about a week and élevage is in fibre glass and stainless steel tanks for around 6 months before bottling in spring.

The shy and quietly spoken Geoffrenet makes four different expressions of Châteaumeillant and a little Vin de Pays du Cher . His wines, whilst still in need of some refinement, are possibly the best and most consistent with the appellation.

The gris is representative of his vineyard plantings, being a 70/30% split between Gamay and Pinot Noir, but this is also where his crop of Pinot Gris is destined. It is legal within the appellation to blend in up to 15% of the variety. It is sold under the label ‘Comte de Barcelone’ and takes its name from his (now ex) father-in-law, following a particularly raucous night in the town. The 2007 showed a good, stony, mineral character on both nose and palate with good concentration and balance.

He also produces a white wine, mainly from Sauvignon Blanc with a little added Chardonnay. This is sold as a Vin de Pays du Cher and carries the name ‘Little Big Wine’. The 2007 showed good Sauvignon definition, with some fat of Chardonnay. Ripe and attractive with some faint Muscat-like tones.

His three red wines are based on different proportions of Gamay and Pinot Noir and distinguished also by the age of the vines. The ‘Version Original’ is 100% Gamay with 30% of the vines being over 30 years old. The ‘Cuvée Jeanne’ is from 90% Gamay, with vines over 50 years old, although the 2006 was 100% (and none was made in 2007 due to hail damage reducing the crop). The 2006 showed great purity of fruit, minerailty and the ability to age further. Ten percent of this wine is raised in older barrels. The third wine is ‘Extra Version’ and is based on 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Gamay, from vines with an average age of between 10 – 12 years. This is fermented in a single large wooden vat and then raised in stainless steel. I found the 2006 a little bit overdone in terms of extraction and the 2007 suffering from reduction.  

Fabien and Laure Geoffrenet

La Bidore

Caveau du Parc
1 Avenue Meillet

2 Rue de la Fontaine
T: + 33 2 48 60 50 15
F: + 33 2 48 60 55 64
P: + 33 6 07 24 44 94

Back to top