Guide to the Loire regions

Côte Roannaise

Grower Profiles

Yann Palais
Yann Palais is a local lad who has come to wine willingly unlike, he states, many of his peers. He inherited 15 hectares of land from his late grandmother, five of which are on the slope that looks up to the priory at Ambierle, and are set to become the most photographed set of vines on the côte. It was last planted in 1956, when Yann’s grandfather, a medic, decided that there was no future in viticulture and grubbed them up.

After studying viticulture at Macon, he installed himself in Ambierle in 2000 and began replanting the slope, not only with Gamay, but also with some Viognier. The first wines have since been released, made in the cellar of a previous viticulteur. When we met in January 2009, the entire place resembled a building site as Yann and his wife, Sylvie, were busy redeveloping the whole property. With its access right onto the D8, at the point where you turn off into Ambierle itself, they are establishing a multi-purpose centre, dedicated to the wines of the côte and which will contain an agricultural museum, gallery and potentially a restaurant. Inside an open barn there is evidence of an ancient basket press and residing outside (during the renovations, at least) was a 200 year old, open top, oak tonneau that was last used by his grandfather in the early 1950s, although Yann couldn’t resist making a bit of wine in there in 1999. It should be declared a national monument.

The first harvest produced a little Viognier in 2003. The wines, red and white, are made in a lovely old chai and raised in old Bordeaux and Burgundian barriques, with a further lighter red aged in tank.

‘Le Jardin des Moines’ Vin de Pays Viognier is fermented and aged for six months in barrel. Despite the full malolactic, the wine shows good depth and balance in the current 2007 release. A declassified rosé (it has 7g/l residual sugar) is sold under the ‘Une Robe des Vignes’ was excellent in the 2007 vintage. There are currently three reds produced; one ‘Le Carré du Prieuré’ is raised in tank and produced in the fruité style, and ‘La Tasse des Anges’ is more serious, whilst the same ‘Fût de Chêne’ tastes nothing more than international.

With Yann’s enthusiasm, this domaine is set for an interesting future, and will no doubt become a destination point for passing tourists in the coming years. It’s a little too early to proclaim on the wines, but if the same level of attention is levelled on the vines and in the cellar as the investments happening elsewhere on the property, I am sure they shall be very good indeed.

Yann et Sylvie Palais
Domaine Desmoulins
Le Bourg
T/F: + 33 4 77 65 60 31
P: + 33 6 19 14 28 80

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