Domaine la Haute Févrie
Les Gras Moutons is one of the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine appellation’s most admired vineyards; it is to Muscadet what the Clos du Papillon is to Savennières, or what Le Grand Clos is to Bourgueil. Having tasted one or two examples over the years, and drunk more than a handful of bottles, I have gradually come to understand the patchwork nature of this very individual terroir. Although I have to confess that when I last tasted with Sébastien Branger, of Domaine la Haute Févrie, his off-the-cuff drawing of a map of his parcels, as well as all those other parcels that lay around them, was instrumental in facilitating this new understanding.
Sébastien (pictured below) is the latest generation to take control of this family domaine, having first worked alongside his father Claude Branger. They are based, as the name of the domaine may have already suggested, in the hamlet of Févrie, which sits on the banks of the Sèvre. The domaine, and many of their vineyards, sit on the spear of land that lies between the waters of the Sèvre and the Maine, not far from Les Gras Moutons.
The story of this family domaine begins in the early 20th century with Sébastien’s great grandfather, who was an agriculteur-jardinier, a smallholder who cultivated vegetables and other crops, rather than planting and tending solely the vine. It is not uncommon for domaines in the Loire Valley, from Muscadet all the way up to the Côtes du Forez, to have grown out of polycultural smallholdings, and Domaine la Haute Févrie is no exception to this rule. He was based in La Haye Fouassière, close to where Jo Landron is located today, although later in life he crossed the Sèvre to settle in a small village called Févrie.