There are many ways in which the vineyards of Anjou could be likened to those of Burgundy, or other favoured wine regions, but one obvious common theme is that it is perhaps to the grower we should turn first when choosing what to drink. Appellation, terroir, vintage too, all these are of course important, but here as anywhere else good wines come from the cellars of good growers. Dedicated growers, who work hard in the vines, often in a very sustainable fashion, employing environmentally friendly or perhaps even organic practices, although many don’t bang the drum as loudly as those who like to make this a defining feature of their work. No, because for these vignerons, it is the quality, purity and honesty of what goes into the bottle and then the glass that matters most.
One grower who obviously matches this description in Anjou is Vincent Ogereau. Based in Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay, on the banks of the Layon, here Vincent turns out a great array of wines, from simple thirst-quenching rosé to serious Savennières, from tannin-rich and cellar-worthy Anjou-Villages to the very sweetest cuvées, his vines in the Bonnes Blanches and Quarts de Chaume vineyards being two distinctive jewels in his crown. His are wines which, beginning the very moment when he took hold of the reins, have picked up one award after another. This profile looks in detail at Vincent, the man and the domaine, and of course I must also cast the spotlight in the direction of his son Emmanuel, who has returned from studies in far-flung foreign vineyards (which these days means New Zealand, not Beaulieu-sur-Layon or Rochefort-sur-Loire). Father and son now work side-by-side on this domaine.
Vincent Ogereau is a fourth-generation vigneron, the family domaine having been established here by his great-grandfather as far back as 1890. This was not a huge viticultural adventure though and, as you might imagine (because this is a common story in Anjou, and elsewhere in the Loire Valley), the domaine was polycultural. The vineyard was just one part of the domaine, and its produce would probably have been sold in bulk, probably to négociants.
Although it is Vincent Ogereau who deserves most of the credit for the domaine’s reputation today, some must also go to his father Francis Ogereau who was running the family domaine back in the 1960s and 1970s. At this time the domaine had shifted towards purely viticulture, although as was perhaps the norm for the time practices tended to focus on quantity and not quality. Nevertheless Francis was clearly interested in improving his lot, and that of his family. He invested in the business and modernised his facilities, most significantly with the installation of air conditioning in the cellars. And one of his sons, Vincent of course, was packed off to the local viticultural lycée to learn about modern winemaking. Vincent’s twin brother, meanwhile, never showed any interest in the vine or wine, and instead left home to pursue a career in information technology. Today he has nothing to do with the running of the domaine.