Domaine des Bérioles
The vineyards of Saint-Pourçain once covered a great expanse of several thousand hectares, but phylloxera, war and a shift towards other more lucrative agricultural crops tossed the region into a long viticultural decline. Today, though, there has been something of a renaissance, even if it is a rather limited one. Céréaliers looking to diversify are increasingly likely to plant some vines, and if they don’t fancy tackling the fermentation and élevage themselves then there is a local cave co-operative ready and willing to take what fruit they have grown.
What vineyards remain lie either on the left bank of the Allier as it flows towards the town of Moulins, or further upriver on the left bank of the Sioule, a tributary of the Allier. These rivers flow generally northwards here, and thus the vineyards tend to have an east- and southeast-facing aspect. They are not far from many of the vineyards of Burgundy, being just 150 kilometres west of Mâcon, a fact which is reflected in Saint-Pourçain’s principal varieties, these being Pinot Noir and Gamay for reds, and Chardonnay for whites. Oh, and Sacy of course, also known as Tressallier, the jewel in Saint-Pourçain’s crown. One domaine cultivating all these varieties, including what must be about 10% of the world’s entire plantings of Tressallier, and vinifying the wines for themselves, is Domaine des Bérioles.