Pierre Soulez, Château de Chamboureau   (1949)

Château de Chamboureau is the final property encountered as one leaves the village of Epiré heading west towards Savennières. It sits on top of the plateau and is surrounded on three sides by its own vineyards. Wine has certainly been produced here for at least the last 400 years. The oldest part of this rustic looking manor is an octagonal tower which dates back to the 15th century. However, there have been various additions during its life, notably two lodges which were added in the 18th century by lawyer Robert Béguyer, owner of the neighbouring property of Champcourtois.

The domaine was bought in 1949 by Michel Soulez who ran it until 1978 when he passed the day to day running to his brother, Yves. Michel and his wife (an incredible woman by all accounts – she’s in her mid nineties now, but still drives herself around the village) had eleven children and it was one of five boys, Pierre-Yves, who took control from his uncle in 1982. It was during this period that Chamboureau began to expand, buying vines in Le Clos de Varennes and renting land in Le Clos du Papillon and La Roche aux Moines from Baron Brincard. Apart from making wine for Chamboureau itself, there was an agreement between the two parties that Soulez would also produce a generic Savennières and La Roche aux Moines under the Château de la Bizolière label; this arrangement lasted until as recently as 2006. After a period of financial uncertainty in the late 1980s, Pierre-Yves handed over control in 1991 to his brother, Pierre, who had just repatriated himself after a successful career as an agronomist in central Africa. Meanwhile, Pierre-Yves decided to buck the current trend and cross the Loire to buy Château de la Genaiserie in Saint-Aubin-de-Luigné, a property he held until selling up in 2003. Pierre himself was joined by his nephew, Hugues Daubercies in 2004. Daubercies had returned to the Loire following time working in Provence and immediately introduced an organic regime that will see Chamboureau being certified organic from the 2008 vintage.

With a view towards retiring in 2010, Pierre Soulez began to relinquish control of most of Chamboureau’s rented parcels and this culminated in 2006 by his selling off all their own vineyards along with the rights to the Château de Chamboureau brand name (although the Soulez family are to retain the manor house) to Philippe Fournier, a telecommunications tycoon based in Angers (www.afone.com). Fournier had already taken ownership of Domaine Jo Pithon the year before.

The dispute that festered between Fournier and Pithon in early 2008 has been well documented. Later the same year, Fournier announced that the coming together of the two names under the Domaine FL banner, the two initials being an acronym of Fourniers parents, Fournier (father) and Longchamps (mother). Together, Domaine FL controls some 40 hectares of vines on both sides of the Loire.    

Daubercies is now in charge of the day to day running of both Château de Chamboureau and what was once Domaine Jo Pithon. With the takeover has come a serious attempt to elevate the quality of both the vineyards and the wines, starting with the move towards organic status. Yields have been dropped to around 25hl/ha and the number of passages at harvest has been increased from the usual three to four or five. In 2007, Fournier employed the services of consultant oenologist, Stéphane Derenoncourt for his first ever venture into white winemaking. Derenoncourt, who was born in Dunkirk and rose to fame in Bordeaux during the early 1990s, is said to be something of a serious Chenin lover. 

In terms of vineyard holdings, Château de Chamboureau both rents and owns its vines. There are a total of 12 hectares farmed, with a further two planned for 2009. Nine of these hectares are in Epiré itself and include 1.6 hectares of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, although the latter is to be grubbed up in 2008, thankfully to be replaced with more Chenin. There are also three hectares of Chenin in La Possonnière, and despite Soulez giving up a sizeable part of his leased vineyard in early 2004, Chamboureau remains a significant grower within La Roche aux Moines, producing around 4,000 bottles a year.

Wine Overview
Prior to the new regime being installed in 2006, the range incorporated the label of Château de la Bizolière, creating a wide (and unnecessarily complicated) portfolio of wines. A generic cuvée of Savennières existed under both labels, as did La Roche aux Moines. In addition, the term ‘Cuvée d’Avant’ was used until 2005 for Château de Chamboureau where the Savennières, La Roche aux Moines and Le Clos du Papillon wines had been raised in oak. Over the past few years there has also been a succession of individual releases of moëlleux and doux, including a Clos du Papillon, ‘Cuvée d’Avant’ Moëlleux in 2003 and ‘Chevalier Buhard, Cuvee d’Avant’ Doux in 2002. There is also, for the time being at least, a little Anjou-Villages produced here too.

The Wines
With the new regime comes consolidation in the range and all the wines will pass through wood of various size and age at some point in their élevage. Fermentations are natural, and whilst malolactic does play a part, it is by no means systematic and is avoided where deemed unnecessary. Certainly, tasting the (not yet then in bottle) 2006 and 2007 vintages in February 2008, there is a measurable increase in quality here, with the wines loosing the rustic edge that had been very much in evidence previously. This is certainly a domaine to watch out for and rediscover in the vintages to come.  

2007 Savennières - Château Chamboureau
Twenty year old vines. On fifth raised in new oak, but with no malolactic. 30hl/ha. Attractive, soft and proper nose. Very clean with good freshness and focus. Restrained. Modern style and very aromatic. The acidity is very fresh and juicy. The wine is quite primary and lacks a sense of place. Well structured, although a little unknit. It should come together with time, although the wine is a little too clean and manicured for the appellation. (02/10)

2005 ‘Savennières – Cuvée d’Avant’  
Very delicate, clean but also restrained and backward at this stage. Some wet straw to the nose which carries through to the palate. Quite firm on entry with good grip and structure. This builds to a second tier on the finish. Authentic. This is still very youthful and will need time, but shows future potential. Very good. (02/08)

2004 ‘Roche aux Moines – Cuvée d’Avant’  
Very pale. Green hints. Very light, delicate and refined on the nose with some hints of green fruits. Juicy acidity on entry. Still closed and not very giving at this stage. There is a nutty, autolytic quality here (there was some batonnage this vintage). Very good structure. Fresh acidity. This is still very youthful and would benefit with more time in bottle. (02/08)

2004 ‘Savennières – Cuvée d’Avant’  
Pale with some green hints. Delicate but open nose, but shows some terpine and smoky aromas of premature ageing. The palate is fresher with a green fruit profile. Well balanced and focused but with a hint of bitterness on the mid palate and finish. Rustic. The acidity carrying the structure of the wine. Not totally harmonious, with the acid not particularly well integrated. Accessible now. Should age and perhaps develop further. (02/08)

2004 ‘Roche aux Moines – Cuvée d’Avant’  
Pale. Green hints. Attractive and delicate nose. Somewhat reserved and backward. Faint terpine and white flowers. Linear on entry. Very clean and fresh. Good weight and a fine structure. More white flowers on entry. There is a good sense of minerality through the wine. Persistent to the finish. This is still very youthful and shows the potential to age and evolve further. Very good. (02/08)

2003 ‘Roche aux Moines – Cuvée d’Avant’  
Bright. Pale with some green hints. Rounded nose and shows the character of the riper vintage. Builds well on entry but is a bit fat and shows some maturity with some marzipan flavours. The oak also protrudes a little. Lacks acidity and tastes hot on the finish. Drink now. This is unlikely to age. (02/08)

2002 ‘Roche aux Moines – Cuvée d’Avant’  
Light, delicate nose. Floral with a hint of terpine. White flowers indicating some advanced ageing, but quite complex and delicate. Mid weight on entry with a firm minerality running through the wine. A touch bitter on the finish. Good length. The acid profile suggests this will age further, although the flavours already show some advanced characteristics. Approachable now. Drink over the next five years. (02/08)

2001 Savennières  
Deep yellow/gold appearance showing some maturity. Creamy nose giving the impression this was probably aged in oak (although it wasn’t). Clean and broad on entry with very fresh chalky acidity. This is quite rustic. Delicate and complex and builds nicely in the glass. Well balanced, although the alcohol shows a little on the finish. This is mature, but should hold for a few more years. (04/08)  

1999 ‘Roche aux Moines - Cuvée d’Avant’  
Polished. Deep appearance. Yellow-gold.
Rich and concentrated with hints of coconut. Concentrated but evolved on the palate. A bit flat and a touch rustic. Obvious ripeness and builds well to a powerful finish. There is a schist-like minerality. Mature, but should hold if not improve. A decent effort for a challenging vintage. (04/09)

1998 ‘Roche aux Moines’  
Distinctive. Closed in minerality – slate. Well focused entry. Bone dry, but not austere. Low fruit profile, but excellent structure and a firm finish. Taut. Youthful and shows promise. (09/00)

1998 ‘Roche aux Moines - Cuvée d’Avant’  
Pale straw. Instant nose, open and accessible. Wet wool. Typical Chenin profile. This is a bit dirty and rustic on the palate with some prematurely advanced flavours of white flowers. Bone dry and steely. Quite broad, flinty and open with a long finish. Drinking now and should keep a few years, but this won’t make old bones. (08/99)

1997 ‘Cuvée d’Avant Moëlleux’  
Bright. Very deep orange/gold. Rich, gentle, passillerage nose. Smells like a sweet Jurançon. Attractive, with a nose of oranges and dried fruit with a good sense of minerality behind. Rich on entry with a lovely silky texture. Ripe, but with good focus and length. It just shows a little hot on the finish which brings the overall balance into question. Otherwise a very good effort. For drinking now, but this will continue to age. (04/08)  

1993 Savennières
Bright. Mid-full orange. Mature appearance. Attractive nose. There is a hint of sweetness. Ripe, with honey behind. Complex, attractive. Mid weight entry. There is none of the sweet, over-ripe character on the palate that the nose suggests. Excellent focus and a linear acidity which helps carry the finish. Very good focus. There is a mineral edge to the acidity. Old fashioned Savennières, but a good effort in a challenging vintage. This won't improve, but the acidity should preserve it. The nose and palate are a contradiction. (04/09)

1988 Savennières
Bright. Mid-pale yellow-straw. Very light and lifted nose. Lively and fresh. Almost Riesling-terpine like focus on the nose. Light and shallow on the palate, but delicately complex. Authentic, although just starting to fall apart on the nose. Attractive palate with good focus. Old fashioned, and retains a Riesling like flavour profile and structure. At its peak now and best drunk soon. (04/09)

1989 ‘Clos du Papillon’  
Mid depth. Slightly reduced nose. More like an old Sauvignon. Herbal, greengages. Obvious sweetness to the palate. Rich and concentrated. Good structure and length with none of the reduction displayed by the nose. Delicate and lightly complex. Very good balance and length. Will hold and may evolve further. Distinctive. (06/04)

Hugues Daubercies
Domaine FL
Chateau de Chamboreau
T: +33 2 41 77 20 04  
F: +33 2 41 77 27 78  

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