The Story

 

Next to the vines of Coulée de Serrant lie the ruins of the fortress Roche-au-Moines, the site of a key battle in the Anglo-French War of 1214. At this point, the domain was already celebrating its 84th vintage. The wine was first made here by Cistercian monks as far back as 1130, and a monastery still stands on the site today. The vineyard is so respected that its wines were even praised by Louis XI and Louis XIV.              

It is therefore fitting that Coulée de Serrant, with an appellation d’origine contrôlée spanning just seven hectares, relies so heavily on traditional methods of farming. Every aspect of production is carefully and naturally controlled. Manure comes from a herd of ten Highland and Nantaise cows, who are themselves fed only natural local produce, and from the winter passage of Oussant sheep. Snails are removed using chickens from a portable coop, and the minimal amount of ploughing that takes place is done using horses. Herbicides have not been used here for decades, and medicinal plants are used rather than harmful chemicals. 

 

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The People

Virginie & Nicolas

Nicolas Joly, who runs the estate with his daughter, Virginie, is perhaps the world’s most vocal proponent of biodynamic viticulture, having written a series of books on the subject (and a very interesting website explaining biodynamic techniques).  

With such a great level of care and attention, it is perhaps little wonder that Coulée de Serrant is world-famous for its incredible Chenin Blanc wines. The grapes are harvested in three to five parcels over three to four weeks to ensure that they are of the correct level of maturity.

Listen to Virginie Joly's podcast on Interpreting wine, by Lawrence Francis. 

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The Place

Loire, France

The vines, which are on average 35 to 40 years old, are grown on steep slopes facing south/southeast. Only a small yield is harvested, allowing for a high level of concentration that expresses the rich minerality of the terroir, with its soils of schist, quartz and flint.

These exceptional wines improve after being opened, with their flavours intensifying sometimes for more than a week.

Clos de la Coulée de Serrant Location