Domaine du Mortier
The story of Domaine du Mortier really only begins in 1990, with the arrival of the Boisard family in La Gardière, a small hamlet sitting well up the slope above the town of St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil. Boisard mère and père acquired a small farmhouse, with just a few rows of vines, and capacious cellars. They had no interest in wine, having sought out the house as an attractive rural retreat, but it was clear that the domaine had an unappreciated viticultural history. It wasn’t long before most of the family had turned their minds and hands to tending their vines, and a new domaine was born.
In this profile I present the short history of this domaine, as well as exploring the Boisard family’s approach to viticulture and winemaking today. First, though, I couldn’t resist exploring a little of this hamlet’s history, to see if any clues about the origins of this domaine could be found.
The hamlet of La Gardière has long been home to a small community of vignerons. Writing in Les Vins de Loire (Parisienne d’Editions Techniques et Commerciales,1956), Pierre Bréjoux included the lieu-dit of Le Clos de la Gardière as among the best terroirs of St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil. A few decades later Suzanne Blanchet, writing in Les Vins du Val de Loire (Éditions Jema SA, 1982), noted the presence of a handful of vignerons residing in the hamlet, although most of these are clearly ancestors of younger generations still resident in the village today. There was, however, a vigneron named Pierre Couineau, resident at nearby Le Grand Mortier. Could he be relevant to the early story of Domaine du Mortier? Possibly, but I have to admit that the evidence is far from conclusive, and I am resigned to taking up the tale during the 1990s.
By the time the Boisard family acquired the property there were hardly any vines here; this was not a problem for Joël Boisard, the father, as he was never looking to make wine. Nevertheless there was a tiny parcel of Cabernet Franc, less than 1 hectare planted in 1963, attached to the property. And while Joël and his wife were not interested, the same can not be said of their two sons. Cyril and Fabien Boisard, mere teenagers at the time, were intrigued by the vineyard, and seeing this the old vigneron who had until that time had looked after the vines began showing them how to prune, how to pick, and how to vinify the crop. In these few gestures, the seeds of the modern-day Domaine du Mortier were sown.