Domaine de Montrieux
Ariane Lesné and I have something in common; we have both had chance encounters with the wines of Émile Hérédia, unanticipated experiences which have had a positive impact on our lives. Émile, for so long the doyen of Domaine de Montrieux, was for many years a Vendômois specialist, carving intriguing wines from distinctive raw materials, principally Pineau d’Aunis but also Gamay and, this being the Loire Valley, Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc naturally also played their respective parts. Émile’s wines were works of art, the labels adorned with poems from some of France’s greatest literary figures, the wine within each bottle honest and true.
I resolved to seek out more of Émile’s wines, not an easy task and, on reflection, I think I failed. It was not for want of trying, more that despite my efforts the wines were very rarely encountered. Ariane Lesné, however, went one (very large) step further. She too fell in love with the wine. And she didn’t just seek out the wines, to drink and enjoy them. Ariane really put he money where here mouth is, because she bought the domaine.
The story of Domaine de Montrieux begins in 1999 when several parcels of vines were brought together under this umbrella by the aforementioned Émile Hérédia. In the Coteaux de Vendômois appellation, an underdog if ever there was one, Émile could pick and choose what he wanted; his domaine was thus a collection of high-quality parcels, featuring old vines rooted into interesting terroirs mostly of flinty topsoils with a deeper limestone bedrock, situated on south-facing slopes on the north bank of the Loir. The noble Pineau d’Aunis ruled, along with Gamay as a more rustic back-up, and Chenin Blanc for the whites of course. Using these varieties Émile fashioned an eclectic portfolio of wines, principally red and rosé made using Pineau d’Aunis, but I must confess I always had a soft spot for his Boisson Rouge, a sparkling wine made with Gamay.