Domaine des Herbauges, 2020 Update

The past few years have not been easy ones in Muscadet (and other parts of the Loire Valley, it has to be said); while nobody would complain about the bountiful harvest seen in the 2018 vintage, 2016, 2017 and now also 2019 have all been blighted by frost. In the 2019 vintage Jérôme Choblet of Domaine des Herbauges lost 45% of the crop, akin to the 50% he lost in each of the 2017 and 2016 vintages.

One reason Domaine des Herbauges has thrived despite Jérôme (pictured below) regularly bringing in only half a harvest in recent times is that this is a very extensive domaine with – the last time I checked, a year or two ago – more than 80 hectares of vines. Jérôme does not appear to content to rest on his laurels though, as in the 2019 vintage he has added another cuvée to his line up. Les Cinq Chemins originates from a newly acquired domaine in Port-Saint-Père at the western end of the Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu appellation, where the soils are mainly schist and micaschist, dotted with a little amphibolite. There are 15 hectares of vines aged between 55 and 85 years here, largely on high land (hopefully offering some protection against frost). The vinification is traditional, and the wine itself displays the typically fresh, minerally and minty style of the domaine.

Domaine des Herbauges

And there is more to come; Jérôme told me he that this year he expects to sign on another property, the running of which he will take over in 2021. With the addition of Les Cinq Chemins this domaine has in fact grown to 115 hectares (my 80-hectare figure was already out of date), and by the end of 2021 he expects this figure to be closer to 140 hectares. At this point Jérôme expects to call a halt on further expansion, partly because he already has difficulty finding local people willing to work on the domaine, but also because if his harvest grows any larger he will need to acquire more winemaking facilities.

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