Guide to the Loire regions

Côtes d'Auvergne

Grower Profiles

Domaine Sous-Tournoël
There is a sign as one enters the town which states ‘VOLVIC – Village Vigneron’. It’s no exaggeration; there is only one. Before the 1930s, Volvic was better known for its 260 hectares of vines rather than its famous mineral water. Photographs in the Gaudet cellar, taken in 1935 and 1950, clearly show vines encroaching on the walls of the chateau. The Gaudets have worked the vineyards on the slopes looking up at the ruins of the Château de Tournoël since 1850, making them one of the oldest wine-growing family in the Auvergne. Their cellar is a living museum to the region with fourth generation Jean, who is now in his 90th year, born in the house he still lives in. The domaine is now run by Alain, his son, who himself is in his late fifties, but with no interest expressed by his own children, he is likely to be the last in line.

The appellation in Volvic is for generic Côte d’Auvergne only, but the distinguished south facing slopes, could be justifiably have their own cru recognition. Their five hectares of vines are planted on volcanic rock, as the name of the village suggests. The steep slopes and the free draining granite soils ensures that the vine roots need to penetrate deep to access moisture for their survival with yields, at between 30-35hl/ha, are low.

The Gaudets make three wines, the first is a Vin de Pays, made from two-thirds Pinot Noir (vinified white) with one third Chardonnay, it’s profile being distinctly Chablis-esque. The Chardonnay component comes from vineyards below the road into the town where the soils are more sandy, and outside of the appellation. Their simple rosé receives a simple saignée, whilst the red is made from 90% Gamay, vinified for 10-12 days and aged in 100 year old oak tonneau.

The vineyard, the cellar and the personalities make Domaine Sous-Tournoël a special place to visit, and one can be charmed by the slightly earthy and rustic quality of the wines. It’s a travesty that a domaine like this, with its distinguished site, has no guaranteed future.  

Alain Gaudet
Domaine Sous-Tournoël
Route de Châtel-Guyon
T: + 33 4 73 33 52 12
F: + 33 4 73 33 62 71

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