Lamé Delisle Boucard
A century or two ago the lanes and paths coursing along the terraces and slopes above Restigné, Benais, Bourgueil and no doubt other communes along the length of the Vienne were bustling with smallholders. While many of these small-scale farmers tended some vines, this was usually only one crop among many, and I am sure in some cases the wine they made was intended solely for consumption by themselves, their family and their friends. It was largely during the course of the 20th century that the many proprietors tending these vines moved away from this polycultural existence to focus on their vines, presumably because when you have land in a respected appellation such as Bourgueil, making wine holds the promise of greater profit than growing asparagus or looking after goats.
This conversion means that for many of these estates, their histories are not well documented. No-one charts the history of a smallholding as if it were Château Margaux or Château Cheval Blanc. And even if they did, efforts to trace these histories back through time are frequently confounded by the phylloxera epidemic at the end of the 19th century, when many parcels of vines changed hands, disrupting the fragile thread of ownership. Many parcels simply ran wild, tired would-be vignerons having thrown in the towel, after the realisation that they lacked both the energy and the funds to replant their louse-scorched land with newly grafted vines.
I am happy to report, however, that there are exceptions to these ‘rules’. One example of such is Lamé Delisle Boucard, a sizeable domaine situated on the terraces east of Bourgueil and Restigné. The domaine’s grand heritage is communicated through late-released wines, one recent cuvée to make its way to market being the 1976 Bourgueil Cuvée Prestige, a wine still fresh as a daisy despite being forty years of age. My interest suitably piqued (who wouldn’t be a curious about a domaine, anywhere, releasing wine that had been held back for four decades?) I recently called in on Philippe Boucard (pictured above), of Lamé Delisle Boucard, to learn some more of their history, and to taste their wines.