Château de Plaisance
There are a number of historic châteaux rooted onto the Butte de Chaume, that wonderful multifaceted outcrop of schist, spilite, sandstone, poudingue and quartz which is home to both the Chaume (Coteaux du Layon Chaume, to give it its proper name) and Quarts de Chaume appellations. A number of these châteaux have great historical relevance not only to these appellations but also to Anjou and Coteaux du Layon as a whole, their stories, and those of these appellations, interwoven as one. Château Belle-Rive is a good example; it was once the home of Louis Mignot, the designer of the original Anjou wine glass, and was one of a small number of estates present on the butte at the inception of the Quarts de Chaume appellation in 1954.
While I quickly became acquainted with these famous names and their wines, I was for many years puzzled by the presence of a number of other châteaux which, despite having an enviable position on the Butte de Chaume seemed, superficially at least, to make absolutely no wine at all. One property in particular interested me. This château stood silent, its rendered facade tired and cracked, its most notable featured its twin chimneys of alternating limestone and red brick. Never did I see it display any sign of life, and yet it was surrounded by swathes of emerald green vines, their crop presumably nurtured through botrytis-driven concentration each year. But what happened then was a mystery. Under what name was the wine bottled? And to whom was it sold?
Some of these questions were answered in 2021 when I met the new proprietor of this property for the very first time. The estate in question is Château de Plaisance (pictured below), an old maison situated on the cusp of the Chaume and Quarts de Chaume appellations, with a handsome holding of vines in each. The new proprietor is the young, talented and dynamic Vanessa Cherruau (pictured above). In this profile I focus on Vanessa and her wines, but first I look back to the origins of the estate, and in the process I uncover exactly why I never tracked down any of its wine.