Guide to the Loire regions


Grower Profiles

Bertrand Sourdais

Domaine des Pallus
The Sourdais family are to Cravant-les-Côteaux what the Mabileaus are to Bourgueil with their name recorded locally as far back as the 8th Century. In Cravant they say that if someone offers a greeting as you enter the village café, if you were to respond 'Bonjour Monsieur Sourdais' you'll most probably be correct. 

Domaine des Pallus, located on the communal boundary between Cravant and Panzoult, has been in this particular branch of the Sourdais family since 1891. The current incumbent, Bertrand represents the 5th generation. He took over when his parents, Jean-Bernard and Josette, retired in 2005. He studied in Montreuil-Bellay and at Blanquefort in Bordeaux where he met fellow student Ricardo Perez Palacios, the nephew of the much celebrated Alvaro of Priorat and Rioja fame, and which ultimately led Sourdais to make wine in Spain. Before this, in 1996, he spent the harvest in the cellars of both Mouton-Rothschild and Léoville-Las-Cases, and in 1998 headed south to work the vintage at Santa Rita in Chile. With a sense of wanderlust, it was in the late 1990s that he decided to make Spain his home, developing his own project, Dominio de Atauta in Ribera-del-Duero, with Miguel Sanchez, a respected Madrid-based wine merchant. Even by the time he had returned to Pallus to take over from his parents, Bertrand was still dividing his time equally between his vineyards on the banks of the Vienne and those of the Duero. Today, he is commited solely to his interests in Chinon. 

There are 18 hectares of vineyards; twelve on the coteau just across the road from the house, with the balance rented from a
grower down in the hamlet of Briançon. Apart from a couple of barrels of Chinon blanc, everything produced here is red and solely from Cabernet Franc. 

Whilst his father harvested by machine, today Bertand elects to harvest by hand. The vineyards are also in the process of being converting to organic farming methods, although there are no plans to certify them. Yields too have been drastically reduced, down to around 30hl/ha for the two principle wines. 

Sourdais places his main focus on Pallus, a 3,000 bottle cuvée that is sourced from four roughly equal-sized parcels: Les Tiriots, Les Tois Piliers, La Rougerie and Le Clos, planted between 1952 and 1974 and all located immediately around the domaine. The wine sees 18 months ageing in 70% new French oak and is bottled without fining or filtration. At around 40 Euros a go it makes something of a statement.
Les Pensées de Pallus is a miniature version of Pallus which, until the 2009 vintage, was also committed to new oak. The wine is sourced from three parcels with an average vine age of 40 years. Production of this blend stands at a significant 60,000 bottles a year. A third label, Le Coq de Pallus, is rather dismissed by Bertrand who sees it as a legacy of his parents. It is only sold off the farm to long-standing customers of Jean-Bernard. Production, however, is a respectable 10,000 bottles a year.

It's not hard to see where Bertrands influences originate; dense, black, deeply concentrated wines with vivid packaging and a heavy-weight bottle that is supposed to seduce consumers into thinking they are buying into something serious. He is a young, committed, bright and immensely passionate guy who is completely motivated to make only great wines. But is Pallus and its younger sibling authentic? No. They are very good wines, but they are not, for me, representative of Chinon as a whole. 

Bertrand Sourdais
Domaine des Pallus

T: + 33 2 47 93 00 05
F: + 33 2 47 93 05 06
P: + 34 6 29 94 53 88

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