Domaine Ogereau, 2022 Update

In the world of wine, in which domaines are frequently handed down from one generation to the next, the prospect of stepping out from the shadow of your parents – and all their successes – must be both daunting and difficult. One Anjou vigneron who seems to have achieved this in a convincing manner is Emmanuel Ogereau.

To not understand how daunting this must have been for Emmanuel would be to fail to appreciate all the achievements of his father, and his significance to modern-day Anjou. Having studied in Bordeaux during the late 1970s and early 1980s, in 1982 Vincent Ogereau returned to join his father Francis on the family domaine, his mind brimming with revolutionary thoughts. Vincent’s ideas might seem commonplace today, but they were anathema to cash-strapped Anjou vignerons such as his father, for whom a high yield was the mark of a good vintage.

One of Vincent’s innovations was to conduct a green harvest in order to reduce the crop, gaining improved ripening and greater concentration in the wine in the process. Even today green harvesting remains a practice which vignerons practice with sensitivity; I recall, for example, one vigneron in Vouvray who, in one of the many recent frosted and hailed-out vintages, chose not to green harvest simply because he believed the sight of discarded ‘excess’ fruit, thrown onto the soil around the vines, would be an insult to those neighbours who had lost that year’s crop. Quite what Francis Ogereau thought about his son doing it has not been recorded for posterity, but I doubt any words spoken were complementary.

Domaine Ogereau

Vincent eventually took full control of the family domaine, and it was he who was in charge when the 1989 and 1990 vintages came along. It was the experience he gained in Bordeaux, combined with the character of these two vintages, that convinced Vincent he should call a halt to chaptalisation on the Ogereau domaine. It may surprise you to read this, but chaptalisation was commonplace in the region (as it was in many other corners of France), even when producing sweet wines. Although the Loire Valley has a fabulous viticultural heritage, it had lost its way somewhat during the 20th century, with a shift towards the more commercial production of vin de café rosés, and it was only with the introduction (or reintroduction) of methods from Bordeaux, including late-picking by hand, and harvesting in tries, that allowed vignerons, led by stalwarts such as Vincent, to reclaim their sweet wine heritage.

Such were the shoes into which Emmanuel had to step.

Despite this daunting prospect I believe Emmanuel Ogereau (pictured above, teaching his pickers how to select botrytised fruit on the Quarts de Chaume vineyard, just as Vincent once did) has not only succeeded in filling these shoes he has actively developed the domaine’s portfolio of vineyards and wines in a positive fashion, with a particular focus – as is the way in Anjou at the moment – on dry Chenin Blanc.

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