La Tour Saint-Martin, 2019 Update

A leading light in the Menetou-Salon appellation, Bertrand Minchin’s story encapsulates how the Loire Valley has changed over the last century. Many of the region’s domaines, even some that are today highly regarded, have evolved from polycultural smallholdings, often in the space of just two or three generations. Find a young vigneron in Bourgueil, Cheverny or indeed Menetou-Salon and, regardless of his or her renown there is every likelihood that the grandparents were looking after not just vines but cereals, vegetable plots and livestock. Especially goats. It always seems to be goats.

With Bertrand the transition from agriculteur to viticulteur is not one or two generations ago, but within his lifetime. When he joined his father in working on the domaine it was on one side vines, the fruit all sold to a local co-operative, but on the other they had an expanse of wheat fields. Bertrand started out on this polycultural farm in 1988; by 1994, however, he had decided it had to change. He began to focus on the vine, which meant vinifying, bottling and selling his own wines. It was the moment one of the Menetou-Salon’s leading domaines was born.

La Tour Saint-Martin

Today Bertrand (pictured above) has an array of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir vines in the appellation, enough to produce several single-vineyard cuvées alongside his entry-level wines. And he also has vines in the Touraine and Valençay appellations, allowing him to produce a fascinating matrix of cuvées; while Sauvignon is the base material for all the whites, the reds are made from Pinot Noir, Côt, Gamay and Cabernet Franc, sometimes utilising some unorthodox and distinctive blends (such as all four varieties blended together, as in his Le Claux Delorme cuvée).

I recently met up with Bertrand to taste through some of his more recent releases. Several wines from the 2018 vintage I tasted I have already included in my Loire 2018 report, so here I focus on wines from 2017 and preceding vintages.

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