The appellations of Bourgueil and St Nicolas de Bourgueil are home to an entire clan of vignerons named Amirault. While the best-known of these many names is surely Yannick Amirault, located high up on the gravel terraces just above the town of Bourgueil, you do not have to look far before you discover Yannick’s cousins, second-cousins and presumably other distant relatives all tending their vines and bottling their wines, all with Amirault on the label.
One such Amirault is christened Xavier, and he is based in one of the region’s most impressive maisons, an imposing three-storey stone-built residence which sits right on the main road as it runs through the village of St Nicolas de Bourgueil. One of the first buildings to be erected in the village, the Maison Amirault once served as the town hall and as a school. Today, however, it is home to this particular branch of the Amirault family, as it has been for at least 180 years.
I have an inkling that if you could trace the family trees of all the Amiraults of St Nicolas de Bourgueil back as far as you could you might eventually arrive at one man, perhaps a sword-wielding Medieval monk who settled here with an unresolved dream of planting some vines. Sadly no such tale exists, and a combination of local records and collective memory usually only takes us back a few generations. In this particular branch of the family there have been at least five generations of winemakers, all of whom regarded the Maison Amirault as their home. The property was purchased by an Amirault ancestor during the 1830s, and there were already vines here at this time. Seemingly prosperous, the property was augmented with an east wing, added by Octave Amirault, in 1893. It was also Octave who is credited with the creation of the modern-day domaine.