Domaine Réthoré Davy
If there is one facet of the Loire Valley about which I am most frequently reminded it has to be the region’s remarkable diversity. In part this is down to the sheer length of the river; its course from the Massif Central all the way down to the Atlantic Ocean takes it across a varied array of terroirs, from great expanses of schist, granite, quartz and other more complex igneous forms, to huge plateaus of flint-peppered limestones. And of course, multiplying this complexity, there is a cornucopia of varieties to choose from, from Gamay and Pinot Noir in the Côtes de Forez down to the Melon de Bourgogne, Abouriou and Négrette of the Atlantic vineyards.
I am certain, however, that much of the Loire Valley’s diversity is down to the irrepressible energy and inquisitive nature of the region’s vignerons. One such vigneron is Christophe Réthoré, who tends perhaps 40 hectares of vines in Saint Rémy en Mauges. If your immediate response to that little nugget of information is “err, where?” fear not, for I suspect you are not alone. Almost midway between Angers and Nantes, a stone’s throw from the border between the Maine et Loire and Loire Atlantique départementes, Christophe holds sway over a very isolated viticultural outpost. Here, in an island of vines surrounded by a sea of lush-green pasture and golden wheat, he grows the classic Loire Valley staples of Sauvignon Blanc and Gamay, not to mention Pinot Gris, Abouriou, Viognier and even Syrah. Yes, you read that correctly. Syrah. Well, I did say the Loire Valley was known for its diversity.