Domaine de Montgilet, 2010 Update

One of the joys of visiting a region such as the Loire, particularly in contrast to Bordeaux, is in meeting the people that live and breathe the Valley’s air. In Bordeaux you are likely to find yourself having a genteel luncheon with a well-heeled proprietor rather than being introduced to anybody who actually has a role in making the wine. These wealthy proprietors are often dynamic and knowledgeable, and frequently prove to be fonts of fascinating information both contemporary and historical, but they don’t have the same connection with the soils and the vines as their employees do, the vineyard managers and winemakers. Sometimes I wonder if their consultants – Rolland, Derenoncourt or similar – might know their wine better than they do, even though they might only visit the estate once or twice a year.

Domaine de Montgilet

Here in the Loire Valley, however, in one man or woman you can find the whole package. Proprietor, manager, viticulturalist and oenologist all rolled into one. Although there are many that fit the bill, if I were asked to suggest just one as an archetype I would perhaps place Victor Lebreton at the top of my shortlist. He is a well built man, solid and broad, as if he were himself made of the Ligérian rock and soil that lies underfoot. In fact I half-fancy that were he not a viticulteur and winemaker he might take up a career as a wrestler. Not the fluffery that passes for wrestling today of course, all body oil and perms, where the winner is just as likely to take home an award for their acting as they are for their spinning-headlock-elbow-drop technique. I mean proper wrestling, from the days of giants such as champion arm-wrestler ‘Ironfist’ Clive Myers and ‘King Kong’ Kirk, real fighters who wore their stories on their faces, all flattened noses and cauliflower ears. The sight of Lebreton entering the ring to do battle with fighters such as these, trademark flat cap atop his head, would have me tuning in every week.

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