Domaine des Bérioles, 2019 Update

France has lost many vineyards, great expanses of vines wiped out largely by phylloxera. Often the only modern-day clue to their existence are isolated pockets of vines, not infrequently located some distance from the established roll-call of famous wine regions. Many of these isolated vineyards have been absorbed into the Ligérian fold, often by virtue of their fact that, despite their distant sequestration, they still reside somewhere along the banks of the Loire, or one of its tributaries.

One such region is Saint-Pourçain. These vineyards, a few hundred hectares gathered around the town of Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule, have been absorbed into the Loire Valley region based on their position along the banks of the Allier, the waters of which flow into the Loire at Nevers. They are the only remaining vineyards in the Allier département, a decline from 8,000 hectares planted in Saint-Pourçain (16,000 hectares in the entire département) during the 1800s. The varietal focus of the appellation today includes the three leading Burgundian varieties of Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot Noir, and the vineyards lie just 155 kilometres west of Mâcon and well south of the famous slopes of the Côte d’Or; both facts suggest to me that the vineyards might logically be considered a peripheral region of Burgundy, but I am happy they are not. Principally because their presence adds another varietal facet to the Loire Valley through the presence of a fourth variety, Tressallier, also known in the region as Sacy.

Domaine des Bérioles

There are not a great number of domaines here today, and many maintain a fairly low profile. One of the most exciting I have discovered in recent years is Domaine des Bérioles, run by Jérôme Roux (pictured above) and family. Earlier this year I met up with them to taste some of the latest vintages.

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