Domaine Saint Nicolas, 2020 Update

During the course of many years spent investigating the wines of the Loire Valley I have uncovered any number of previously unappreciated gems. I would certainly place the Fiefs Vendéens within this category. Like many of the region’s peripheral appellations today this vineyard, the origins of which date back to at least the 11th century, is a shadow of its former self. Originally worked by peasants who dutifully paid their tithes to the presumably well-soaked monks of the local abbeys and monasteries, the area planted to vines later exploded after Cardinal Richelieu (1585 – 1642) donated large areas of it to the people. By 1880 there were 18,000 hectares of vines planted here, an area double the size of modern-day Muscadet, and six times the size of Sancerre.

Thierry Michon, Domaine Saint Nicolas

It was of course phylloxera that tipped the region into decline. It was first spotted in the region in 1875, and subsequently the entire vineyard was destroyed. Only a few isolated pockets, presumably on some of the more highly prized slopes, were reconstituted. There followed a period of faltering decline through the 20th century, as more and more vignerons retired, the younger generation reluctant to take on the yoke of the family vineyard. Today, noteworthy domaines are small in number; some villages once home to a hundred vignerons or more are these days close to deserted. One of a small handful of exceptions to this rule, and one of the many unsung domaines I am thankful for having encountered during my explorations, is Domaine Saint Nicolas.

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