The Loire is without doubt the cradle of biodynamics; not only is this the region where Nicolas Joly trialled Rudolf Steiner’s methods for the first time, but the Loire Valley is also home to some early ‘serious’ converts, perhaps most notably Noël Pinguet of Domaine Huet. Years after these two committed wholeheartedly to biodynamics this spirit of individuality and self-expression lives on in the Loire, and today the region is also closely associated with – as ill-defined as it is – the ‘natural’ wine movement. Names such as Claude Courtois, Cousin-Leduc, Les Griottes and Jean-Pierre Robinet will be familiar to all followers of this new category of wine. Jérôme Saurigny, a young vigneron installed on the banks of the Layon since 2005, is another sure-fire addition to this ‘natural’ wine roll-call.
Having completed his oenological studies in Bordeaux in 2000 Jérôme left and took up work in the region, with the intent of buying a small domaine somewhere nearby in the Dordogne. I wonder whether at this point Jérôme really knew where and how he wanted to work. Reflecting back on his education, he recalls there was a lot of detail on manipulations and modifications in the winemaking process, and nothing on less interventional – in other words, ‘natural’ – methods. It was only when his brother introduced him to the wines of Patrick Desplats and Sébastien Dervieux of Les Griottes, two vignerons renowned for their non-interventional, zero-sulphur, ‘natural’ methodology, that Jérôme perhaps realised where his true winemaking destiny lay.