Guide to the Loire regions

Côte Roannaise

Grower Profiles

Alain Baillon
Alain Baillon, who describes himself as the creation of a parentage paysan, founded his domaine in 1989 after a period of raising cattle and a decade spent making wine in the Beaujolais. The origin of his family is within the region, but he is very much a first generation vigneron. His home and cellar on the outskirts of Ambierle has a commanding position overlooking the slopes of the Bonichon vineyard, one of the best orientated sites in the whole appellation.

By Baillon’s own admission 1989 was a good year to start. Initially he was renting all his vines, but he now owns two of the 6.2 hectares that he works. The rest he leases from three retired vignerons. He maintains the vines personally, which is no small feat given there are 32 separate parcels. The harvest is all carried out by hand, with a triage conducted within the vineyard for what he describes as his ‘berry by berry’ selection.

Baillon produces five different wines from his ‘big garden’ and this is all vinified in the purpose built cellar he designed and erected in 1996. His range includes two different rosés, one with the appellation and sold under the village name of ‘Ambierle’, whilst the other is an off-dry example which is sold as a Vin de Pays. His two reds are both fermented in tank, with neither cuvée being destemmed. ‘La Barytine’, named after the quartz-veined granite, is produced by carbonic maceration whilst ‘Montplaisir’ comes from his low yielding, older vines which receive a longer and more traditional vinification. There is also a little Chardonnay produced too.

For someone who worked for ten years in Beaujolais, it would be a surprise if Alain Baillon was not ahead of the game when it comes to producing clean, authentic and well made Gamay. His ‘La Barytine’ is correct for the style; full of bready-yeast flavours and juicy, primary fruit. ‘Montplaisir’ is altogether more serious; tighter and more mineral and deserving of a couple of years ageing. The 2007 was a very good example in a difficult year, whilst the 2005 (Baillon’s favourite vintage since 1989) was still a little tough and needing more time to soften. These are very good wines from a warm and likable grower, who also gives the impression of being something of a perfectionist. His wines are certainly worth seeking out.     

Alain Baillon
T: + 33 4 77 65 65 51
F: + 33 4 77 65 65 65

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