Cabernet Franc

Toby Bainbridge

Toby Bainbridge has had a pretty adventurous life for a Brit. He used to work the corn harvests on his combine harvester travelling through the USA before finding a wife and relocating to the Loire to be a winemaker. After studying at the agricultural school in Anjou, he met and became friends with Didier Chaffardon who he worked with until moving on to Domaine Rene Mosse for several years. During his time with Mosse, he started to buy up small parcels of vines, starting with the Rouge Aux Lèvres, one here and one there.

Domaine de l’Écu

Guy Bossard (AKA The Pope of Muscadet) was one of the earlier adopters of biodynamic agriculture in the Loire. As none of his kids wanted to take over his 23ha when Guy retired, he took the help of Fred Niger van Herck who has since added several new cuvées to the domaine’s portfolio, including cuvées made from Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Folle Blanche and Chardonnay, in addition to the existing Muscadet offerings. The domaine also produces a ‘méthode traditionelle’ ('La Divina') and a many, many wines aged in amphora.

Olivier Cousin

One cannot, or should not, speak of natural wine without mentioning Olivier Cousin. He is a beacon and a pioneer in the natural wine movement which took root and flourished in the Loire Valley in the 1990's, and he has helped many, many newcomers in the region.

Lamery

Jacques Broustet of Chateau Lamery does things a bit differently in Saint Pierre d'Aurillac, 20 miles south-east of Bordeaux. Not only is he one of the only vignerons in the region practising Biodynamics in his vineyard (certified 2006), he also refuses to filter, fine or add SO2 to his wines - which is a rare thing in a region where everything is controlled in a military fashion. With just 3 ha, production is tiny. L'Autrement is a blend of 25% of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec. Grapes are hand-harvested and spend 9 months in small casks.

Escoda-Sanahuja

Where to begin with the legend behind Escoda-Sanahuja? Unapologetically big personality, unapologetically awesome wines. Vigneron Joan Ramon began making his magical wines in 1997, caring for his vineyards without chemicals from the start. This evolved over time to Biodynamic practices which have been the standard since 2003. In 2007 Joan quit adding any So2 to his wines at any point, and he is now a passionate opponent of the practice. The land spreads over 10ha near Montblanc in Catalunya, which along with the vines is used for olives, almonds, vegetables and animals.

Domaine St Nicolas

Once a region covered in vines, Domaine St Nicolas is now one of the few remaining winemakers in the lesser known Region of Brem, situated south of the city of Nantes and nestled under the Fief Vendéens appellation. Vigneron Thierry Michon started working biodynamically in 1993 and hasn’t looked back since. He describes his approach to biodynamics as going far beyond the absence of chemicals in the vineyard, rather creating a deeper connection with the soil leading to an amplified expression of terroir.

Château Tour Grise

The family who produced wines under Château Tour Grise had been around a while, allegedly planting and tending vines since the 19th century. In 1998, they achieved biodynamic status, which they believed to be crucial in creating wines that express a true sense of their terroir. Since then, they had been renting off bits of vineyard to new, younger generation winemakers in an attempt to keep the blood flowing in Saumur, and up until recently they made wine from just 8ha, consisting of 6ha of Cabernet Franc, 1ha Chenin blanc, and 1 ha of Pineau d’Aunis.

Domaine Guiberteau

Once a failed law student, now one of the top quality winemakers in Loire, Romain Guiberteau has definitely earnt his badge. On returning home to Loire after quitting his university studies, he persuaded Clos Rougeard's Dani Foucalt to help him rejuvinate his family's vineyards. In 2007, the domaine gained the AB organic certification for its 12ha. Today Romain's wines are seen as a the very best demonstration of what can be acheived from the hill of Breze.

La Lunotte

Vigneron Christophe Foucher of La Lunotte never anticipated a wine career. He used to lend a hand from time to time in the vineyards belonging to his father in law on the South bank of the Cher River. After some years he quit his teaching job and enrolled himself to a school in Amboise to learn (and later unlearn!) the basics of classic vinification. Today he owns and rents a total of 5.5 ha across 7 plots in Touraine. Sauvignon Blanc accounts for 50% of plantings with some Menu Pineau, Gamay (including the dark skinned 'Gamay Bouze'), Côt and Cabernet Franc.

Domaine du Collier

Vigneron Antoine Foucault established Domaine du Collier on the limestone-rich hillsides that surround the village of Brézé in 1999. Up to then he had been learning from the cream of the winemaking crop, Charly and Nady (his uncle and late father), at Clos Rougeard. Antoine abstains from the temptation of chemistry both in his vineyards and winery until the point of bottling, when a minimal amount of SO2 is usually added at bottling. He did once bottle a magnum of the 'Les Ripailles' without any S02 for us, and the difference is nearly undetectable.