Even though this domaine was born very recently, and thus its history is perhaps a brief one, the viticultural chapter in the story of proprietor Noëlla Morantin is a little longer, and deserves recounting. It opens several years before she embraced the life of a Cher Valley vigneronne, and begins with the realisation that a career in marketing just wasn’t going to give Noëlla the life she truly craved. Satisfaction would only come with a fresh challenge and a new direction, it seemed. No doubt influenced by childhood memories of harvest time and winemaking, albeit on a small scale – her father having tended a few vines making wine for personal consumption rather than for commercialisation – viticulture and a life of wine seemed to be calling to her. But how to go about it?
A chance encounter with a viticulturist, and the advice he provided, seems to have been the spark that lit the fire beneath Noëlla. In 2000 she handed in her notice at the firm where she had been employed, and instead registered for a viticulture and oenology degree. Her studies were interspersed with stints working with René and Agnès Mosse at Domaine Mosse and Marc Pesnot at Domaine de la Sénéchalière, among others, so even early on she was making contact with some of the Loire’s more respected ‘natural’ vignerons, individuals with a tendency for organics or biodynamics in the vineyard, and minimal intervention in the cellars. With a qualification and some useful experience under her belt, in 2004 she took up a post as chef de cave with Junko Arai, a Japanese importer who had settled in the Loire in order to make wine herself, prising a few hectares of vines out of the hands of Didier Barrouillet and Catherine Roussel of Clos Roche Blanche in order to do so. The story of Noëlla Morantin and Clos Roche Blanche are somewhat intertwined; this isn’t the last time this iconic Loire domaine will crop up in this profile.