Les Frères Couillaud
Les Frères Couillaud are based at Château de la Ragotière, in the little commune of La Regrippière, at the very edge of the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine appellation, a few yards from the boundary between the Loire-Atlantique and Maine-et-Loire départements. The nearest village of any note is Vallet, at the time of writing a cru communal hopeful, and beyond that lie the more familiar names of Clisson, Gorges and Château-Thébaud, none closer than ten kilometres. In terms of making Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, this is about as far out as you can be. Any further, and they might find themselves producing Melon Vin de France. Or maybe Anjou Blanc.
It may be peripheral in terms of Muscadet, but for centuries Château de la Ragotière was a hot-bed of political and military activity. From the 14th century onwards this was the seat of the noble Loré de la Ragotière family, who swore allegiance to Bertrand du Guesclin (c.1320 – 1380), a knight from Brittany and a military commander who was active during the Hundred Years’ War. Such was his renown he was known as L’Aigle de la Bretagne (the Eagle of Brittany), a motif also seen on his coat of arms, which bore an image of a double-headed black eagle.
It is always interesting to follow the story of ancient proprietors, but any account of the Loré de la Ragotière family would take up two hundred pages (I can say this with authority, because just such a tome exists, and I have seen all two hundred pages with my own eyes). I thought that might be just a little too much detail. Suffice to say the family resided at the estate for at least five centuries, and to their credit they maintained hold of the land through the French Revolution, even if – like many other grander properties in the region – the château was destroyed at this time.