Domaine de Ladoucette
With a huge production, taking fruit from hundreds of hectares of vineyards not just from Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé but from along the length and breadth of the Loire Valley, it is perhaps no surprise that I struggle to remember exactly when and where I first encountered the wines of Domaine de Ladoucette. What I do recall with certainty is that it was the basic Pouilly-Fumé that I met first, the vintage long forgotten, this being many years before Winedoctor was born, before I was even bothering to scribble down the occasional tasting note. I do recall the wine was of good quality though, with a classically pungent, smoky, gunflint quality which seemed to me to be just what Pouilly-Fumé should be about. I did notice, however, that the wine wasn’t the most affordable example of this appellation to be found, and yet this was just the estate’s entry-level wine. The more pricy Baron de L cuvée was, by comparison, priced at a stratospheric level.
Although the memory of my first encounters with these wines now seems more than hazy, thoughts of the time when I first I set eyes on the château are much fresher in my mind. For a start this was a much more recent event which came during a flying visit to Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire. Even so, who can fail be impressed by this château (pictured below), with its multitude of towers and dramatically pointed turrets? There are fat towers, thin towers, tiny towers hanging on the sides of larger ones, square towers and hexagonal towers, even one that seems to climb skywards in a spiral fashion. It is easily the equal of more famous Loire châteaux, many of which see thousands of visitors every year. Perhaps one reason is that many such châteaux have real history, whereas in truth much of what the eye beholds at Nozet is little more than a neo-Gothic 19th-century folly.
Even so, there is history here, and the origins of the original château – before the 19th century refurbishment – can be traced back another four hundred years. The wine is, as is the case at nearby Château de Tracy where the vineyard was reborn in the mid-20th century, largely a more recent phenomenon. This profile looks at the history of the estate, through to the modern-day incumbent Baron Patrick de Ladoucette, as well as the viticulture and winemaking which is now such a strong component of this estate’s identity.