La Grapperie

The Power of Old Vines (Like, Really Old)


Quick facts:

Location: the village of Bueil-en-Touraine, Loire Valley, France

Owner & winemaker: Renaud Guettier

Vineyard area: 6.5 hectares (= 15 acres) composed of some 25 small plots, estate-owned

Vineyard management: organic (Ecocert-certified)

Soils: clay and flint (silex) on limestone

Main varieties: Chenin Blanc for the whites, mostly Pineau d’Aunis for the reds

Annual production (approx.): 20,000 bottles

Winemaking: classical – long aging in old oak barrels and vats in a cellar dug into a former limestone quarry. Sparkling wine made as pet-nat. No fining, no filtration, no sulfur added.

 

Fun facts:

  • Renaud is an agro-engineer who started in 2004 with half a hectare of old vines purchased from his stepfather, and now farms over 25 tiny plots across roughly six hectares
  • Many of these vineyards were saved from abandonment, as Renaud cherishes the power of old vines; a third of his vines are more than 100 years old, with an average age of 80
  • The wines age for at least a year or two in the perfect conditions of Renaud’s impressive cellar built in a former limestone quarry, the same limestone that the famous nearby Chateaux were built with

 

Jump to wines | La Grapperie website

 

“Sometimes when I find them they are merely old, gnarly bushes, long forgotten, but they have enormous potential and add extraordinary vigor and focus to my wines,” Renaud Guettier explains his passion for the vielles souches, or “old stubs”, as he affectionately calls them, that inhabit his vineyards. And when we say old, we mean it: the average age of Guettier’s plots floats somewhere around 80 years, and a whole third of them is more than a century old. Renaud has collected this treasure over the years, buying tiny vineyards around the village of Bueil-en-Touraine (where he’s based) when he saw the opportunity. From the initial half a hectare bought off his stepfather in 2004, he’s now at 6.5ha, separated into 25 different tiny plots. To restore these often derelict veteran vines back into production is no small featyou have to regraft, reprune, replant and re-build the support, but as Renaud says, it’s worth it.

And so it isLa Grapperie’s wines count among the most compelling and chiseled wines you’ll encounter in the Loire Valley. The Chenin-based whites do justice to this cultish grape, with their lush flavors of ripe fruit cut through by flinty tang and vibrating acidity; the reds made from Pineau d’Aunis, one of the truly historical Loire-Valley varieties, wow you with hours worth of succulent fruit, crushed peppercorns, well-sculpted tannins and smoke.

These are true vins du terroir, clearly revealing that they’re rooted in some prime silex-clay on limestone subsoil. (The very limestonelocally called tuffeauthat allowed for the construction of the world famous Loire Valley chateaux not far from Renaud’s cave.) Guettier exalts the potential of this land and old vines by meticulous viticulture: painstakingly taking care of each vine by hand, using no herbicides or pesticides and only organic and biodynamic plant treatments; the estate is certified-organic since 2007. 

The policy of disturbing nature as little as possible continues in the cellar, of course: grapes and musts are moved along by gravity, all fermentations happen spontaneously, and the wines are then aged in old oak vats in the impressive cellar below, built in a former limestone quarry. The élévage takes at least a year, but usually two or more for each wine. This patient wait is an essential stage “when making wines without any addition at any stage, you need them to stabilize naturally, which means giving them enough time to settle down and develop,” as Renaud explains.

And the wines, once again, prove him right. The mastery, respect, patience, attention to detail, everything is in there. Opening a bottle of La Grapperie is that kind of jubilatory moment when you indulge in the rare synergy of nature’s finest fruit sublimed by a savvy human. Like taking a bite of a top ingredient elevated by a skilled chef, it’s a moment when you’re happy to be alive.


Adonis: — Back to the top

Grapperie Adonis tech sheet

Vineyard: blend of different sites in Bueil-en-Touraine and Dissay-sous-Courcillon. Vines aged 4 – 50 years, grown on silex, clay, and limestone 

Grape: Pineau d’Aunis (One of the oldest indigenous varieties in the Loire)

Cellar: The grapes, after being harvested and selected by hand, are gently foot-stomped and macerated for 3 weeks in large conical oak vats (cuve tronconique). The fermentation happens naturally and is followed by 12 months of aging on lees, in 600-liter oak barrels (demi-muids). Bottled without fining, filtration, or sulfur addition.

Personality: Deep purple in the glass with loads of black peppercorn, smoky bramble and sweet herbs on the nose. The palate is spicy and herbaceous with dried red and black fruit layered with spice. A most unusual and purely elegant wine that finishes with powerful tannins and mineral-infused spice. Perfect with grilled beef, leg of lamb, venison stew, braised oxtail.


publicViewAttachment (3) Pressoir Saint Pierre— Back to the top

Pressoir Saint Pierre tech sheet

Vineyard: blend of different sites in Bueil-en-Touraine. Vines aged 10 – 15 years, grown on silex, clay, and limestone

Grape: Chenin blanc

Cellar: The grapes, after being harvested and selected by hand, undergo a long pressing. The fermentation happens naturally and is followed by 12 months of aging on lees, in oak barriques. Bottled without fining, filtration, or sulfur addition.


La Bueilloise— Back to the top

La BueilloiseLa Bueilloise tech sheet

Vineyard: blend of different sites in Bueil-en-Touraine. Vines aged 10 – 15 years, grown on silex, clay, and limestone 

Grape: Chenin Blanc

Cellar: The wine is fermented in 50-hectoliter fiberglass tanks for about 30 days. It is transferred to the bottle while still fermenting and rests in the bottle in the limestone cellar for about 12-24 months. The wine is then hand disgorged and recapped with a crown cap without any addition of sulfur or sugar.


L’Enchanteresse— Back to the top

l'enchanteresse

L’Enchanteresse tech sheet

Vineyard: blend of different sites in Dissay-sous-Courcillon. Vines aged 50 – 115 years, grown on silex, clay, and limestone 

Grape: Pineau d’aunis

Cellar: The grapes, after being harvested and selected by hand, are gently foot-stomped and macerated for 4 weeks in large conical oak vats (cuve tronconique). The fermentation happens naturally and is followed by 12 – 24 months of aging on lees, in 600-liter oak barrels (demi-muids). Bottled without fining, filtration, or sulfur addition.


La Desirée— Back to the topLes Desiree

Vineyard: blend of different sites in Dissay-sous-Courcillon. Vines aged 50 – 115 years, grown on silex, clay, and limestone 

Yield: 25 Hectoliters/Hectare

Grape: Chenin Blanc

Cellar: The grapes, after being harvested and selected by hand, undergo a long pressing. The fermentation happens naturally and is followed by 24 months of aging on lees, in oak barriques. Bottled without fining, filtration, or sulfur addition.


Les Dorrées— Back to the top

les Dorées tech sheet

Age of vines: 115 years old

Yield: 20 Hectoliters/Hectare

Total surface of production: .6-hectares

Total Production: 1500 bottles

Pruning Method: Gobelet

Soil: Clay and silex

Varieties: Chenin Blanc

Vinification notes: Grapes are manually harvested and destemmed. The wine is fermented and aged in 228-liter barrels for about 2 years. The wine is not racked and there is no battonage. Zero added sulfur.


La Belle Egarée— Back to the top

Vineyard: blend of different sites in Bueil-en-Touraine and Dissay-sous-Courcillon. Vines aged 10 – 115 years, grown on silex, clay, and limestone 

Grape: Chenin Blanc

Cellar: The grapes, after being harvested and selected by hand, undergo a long pressing. The fermentation happens naturally and is followed by 12 months of aging on lees, in oak barriques. Bottled without fining, filtration, or sulfur addition.