The clouds hung grey and low over the vineyards of Gorges as I gave the accelerator a gentle nudge, which gently coaxed the car a few more metres along the tarmac. As the wipers continued their interminable task of clearing the raindrops from the windscreen, I peered into the gloom ahead; each sweep of the blades opened up a soft-focus vista of Ligérian vines, regimented rows of black silhouettes that seemed to emerge from and then once more recede into the heavy blanket of hazy grey mist. It wasn’t great weather for driving. Nor was it great weather for trying to locate an unfamiliar domaine, one you have never visited before, and one where you are not sure if the sign will say Domaine Andre-Michel Brégeon, or Domaine Frédéric Lailler, or Domaine Brégeon. As it turned out, it was a combination of the last two, the sign eventually appearing from the murky gloom at the side of the road.
It is quite a few years since I first encountered the wines of André-Michel Brégeon. It was his 2004 Gorges cuvée that I tasted before any other, a wine bottled after a remarkable 64 months on the lees. It was the embodiment of the Gorges terroir, a wine seared with an exciting and pungent mineral character, so vivacious, vigorous and alive. It was an awakening for me to the quality coming out of these cellars, and it reinforced a growing belief that the new wave of wines coming out of the crus communaux of Muscadet deserved more determined exploration. I have been exploring the wines of the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine appellation and its crus ever since; it has, however, taken me a while to get around to learning more about the wines of André-Michel Brégeon.
But that desire does explain why I am here, kerb-crawling through the vineyards of Gorges, on this grey, dreary, windswept December day.