Guide to the Loire regions

Côte Roannaise

Grower Profiles

Bouchéran vineyard

Philippe et Jean-Marie Vial
The Vial’s have their roots firmly set in the region, being part of the Plasse dynasty that have been here since the 17th Century. The domaine is run by two brothers; Philippe, who joined his father, Marcel, in 1991 and who is the current president of the local Roannaise growers syndicate, and Jean-Marie, who has worked with Philippe since 1998 when Marcel officially retired (although he is still a regular feature in the Vials tasting room). In addition to vines, they maintain a small herd of Charolais beef cattle.

The brothers tend 9.5 hectares of vines, all of which are within the commune of Saint-André, including 3.5 hectares of 50 to 75 year old vines in the Bouchéran lieu-dit. They have also in the past few years planted one hectares worth of Chardonnay and Viognier for Vin de Pays.

The wines are made in a new cellar at the foot of the slope, just off the main D8 road that runs parallel with the slope. This square, functional, if soulless, facility houses a combination of cement and stainless steel tanks. In the past couple of years, they have introduced a barrel aged cuvée, which has seen the Vials investing in oak for the first time in 1991.

The Vials rosé is made by maceration, direct press or saignée methods, depending on the conditions of the harvest. There are four reds in their selection; the ‘Découverte’ comes from lighter sandier soils and receives a short, one week, fermentation is designed for early drinking. The ‘Bouthéran’ enjoys more serious attention with a 10 to 12 day cuvaison followed by six months of ageing in tank. ‘Vieilles Vignes’ is all from hand harvested bush vines that are now over 50 years old, and the ‘Fût de Chêne’ comes from the same old plot, but this is raised in seven old oak barrels with the malolactic performed in the wood.

They were also one of the first three producers, in 2007, to release a sparkling Gamay. Their example called ‘Pink Bulles’ contains 27g/l of residual sugar and 9.5% alcohol. It has a second fermentation of five months, by which time the pressure in the bottle has reached 5 bars (about the same as Champagne).

I’ve visited the Vials on both of my visits to the Roannaise and whilst they tend to be considered as one of the benchmark producers locally, I have not been inspired by their wines. This, again, might be a function of the weakness of the 2007 vintage showing through, but with the exception of a pretty good, cru Beaujolais quality ‘Bouthéran’ release in 2005, the wines are a little too pedestrian.

Philippe et Jean-Michel Vial
Bel Air
Saint-André d’Apchon
T: + 33 4 77 65 81 04
P: + 33 6 88 67 21 75
P: + 33 6 88 37 83 80
F: + 33 4 77 65 91 99

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