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Loire Valley Wine Guide: Quincy

Quincy

In Quincy we have an ancient and, if you concur with the manner in which some have seen fit to describe its wines across the centuries, a very noble vineyard.

It would seem, as is also the case with Pouilly-Fumé and a number of other Central Vineyard appellations, that this town and its vineyard have ancient origins. During the 1st century the region was the heart of a mini-kingdom belonging to the Bituriges Cubi, an ancient tribe of Celtic Gauls, and it is believed there was active viticulture, and trade in vines and wines, at this time. The tribe’s rule soon came to an end, swept aside in Julius Caesar’s war on the Gauls, opening a new chapter in the story of this vineyard. Quincy is a derivation of Quintius, which local legend has it was one of the earliest Gallo-Roman settlers to tend vines here.

While these historical morsels seem more supposed than certain, there is no doubt that there were vines here during the 12th century. The region had come to the attention of Pope Callixtus II (c.1065 – 1124), who had been born Guy of Burgundy, the fourth son of William I (1020 – 1087), Comte de Bourgogne. Callixtus II held the papal office for five years, from 1119 until his death in 1124, and in 1120 one of the bulls he issued referred specifically to the wines of Quincy.

The church naturally played its part in the subsequent development of the vineyard. Here in Quincy the arrival of the Cistercians at nearby Beauvoir in Marmagne, on the outskirts of Bourges, was significant. The Abbaye Notre-Dame de Beauvoir was established in 1234 by Robert I de Courtney (1168 – 1239), the grandson of Louis VI (1081 – 1137). Robert held the position of bouteiller to Louis VIII (1187 – 1226), which meant he was responsible for the provision of wine to the royal court. With such a collection of kings and notables in and around Quincy, perhaps we should not be surprised that the wine was regarded by many as a noble beverage, but I will look at that in more detail in a moment.

Quincy

Returning to the Cistercians of Beauvoir, the nuns that lived at the abbey have been credited not only with the planting of the vast majority (if not all) of the vineyards at this time, but also with the introduction of Sauvignon Blanc to the region, which they referred to as Savignum. Sadly, despite the great significance of the abbey to viticulture in the region, it no longer stands, having been razed to the ground during the French Revolution, at the end of the 18th century. Just an old watermill and an ornamental gateway provide testament to its past existence, and where the abbey buildings once stood is now the location of a 20th-century nursing home.

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