Le Clos Galerne
Henri de la Rochejaquelein was aged just 21 years when he was unanimously elected commander in chief of the Armées Catholique et Royale, the royalist armies based in western France who sought to overturn the new post-Revolutionary order and reinstate the French monarch. Sadly his courage and evident enthusiasm for the cause, exhibited during his participation in a number of victories during 1793, could not compensate for his lack of experience. His election came just three days after this army had been routed at Cholet, after which the army crossed the Loire at Saint-Florent-le-Vieil and headed for Granville in the hope of meeting reinforcements from England. The venture failed, and Rochejaquelein’s forces were hunted down with great loss of life.
The Guerre de Vendée waged by this counter-revolutionary force did much to shape the viticultural landscape of the Nantais and Anjou. Many of the great châteaux of the Muscadet region were ransacked and burnt to the ground, including the original Château du Coing de St-Fiacre today in the hands of Vignobles Günther-Chéreau and Château de Chasseloir, part of the Chéreau-Carré empire. Likewise many of the bridges, embankments and locks which once ran the course of the Layon, which had been canalised during the reign of Louis XVIII (1755 – 1824), were destroyed.
The story of the war touches the modern-day Le Clos Galerne in two ways. First, the flight of the Armées Catholique et Royale for Granville after their defeat at Cholet is known as the Virée de Galerne, named for the Galerne (or gwalarn in the Breton tongue), a northwesterly wind, in which the forces made their U-turn (virée). Today the name lives on in Le Clos Galerne, which sits on the banks of the Layon. Second, a significant part of the Galerne vineyards are focused around the Moulin Brûlé (which translates as burnt windmill), itself the scene of fighting between Rochejaquelein’s forces and the Republican army. Little wonder that the modern-day proprietor, Cédric Bourez (pictured above), settled on this name.