Domaine des Herbauges, 2019 Update

If there was a watchword for the wines of Jérôme Choblet, of Domaine des Herbauges, it would have to be consistency. Whether the vintage be warm or cool, benevolent or challenging, classic or completely frosted out, year-in and year-out he fashions a range of remarkably fresh and flavoursome wines which remain true to their Nantais origins. When you take into account the fact that he manages this despite farming 85 hectares of vines, it makes his accomplishment all the more remarkable. Not just consistency, but quality and volume too; no wonder his wines have positions with at least two leading UK supermarkets.

Well, I should correct myself. Jérôme did have 85 hectares to work. Having recently purchased a new domaine, named Les Cinqs Chemins (I confess it is not an estate I was familiar with), he has added another 30 hectares to his mini-kingdom. These new vineyards, with their schistous soils, are located in Port-St-Père, which sits on the Acheneau, which drains the Lac de Grand Lieu (and, as the name suggests, there is a very small port on the river). This is very close to Jérôme’s cellars, which are in Bouaye. His acquisition means he is now looking after 115 hectares of vines; is this a record for a family-run domaine in France? It must surely be a contender.

Domaine des Herbauges

Jérôme started the 2018 harvest on September 2nd, having obtained special derogation to do so, the official ban des vendanges having been agreed for September 3rd. Because his fruit was all ripe, with potentials well over the minimum required 12%, there was no problem with this. In fact he picked Melon de Bourgogne with potentials between 12.5% and 12.8%, while his Chardonnay hit 14% in parts; there is clearly no problem with achieving ripeness and concentration in this vintage. The harvest, like much of the growing season, as described in my Loire 2018 report, was warm and dry. Jérôme picks by machine, probably inevitable with 115 hectares to manage, with on-board optical sorting. In order to keep the fruit cool and fresh he picked at night, starting at midnight, finishing by 11am each day. That’s dedication.

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