Domaine de Villargeau, 2021 Update
It was in 1991 that the Thibault brothers, Jean-Fernand and François, decided to plant vines on the hillsides of Montour, not far from Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire, just downstream of the Pouilly-Fumé appellation on the right bank of the Loire. They had good reason to do so; these were slopes of flint-rich soils ideal for Sauvignon Blanc, and they had once been planted with vines, for many centuries in fact. It was only the devastation of phylloxera that brought this long period of viticultural prosperity to an end. In the recovery period, well-known names such as Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé were quickly replanted, but more peripheral vineyards such as this beside the river, on the way down to Gien, were often abandoned.
This was the state of play in 1991; the region did not even have an appellation for its wines, which were classified as Vin délimité de Qualité Supérieure. Nevertheless, seemingly undaunted, the Thibault clan began their planting. It took some time but the wines soon began to make their mark. It was perhaps about fifteen or twenty years ago that I became aware of them, not long after the region was upgraded to the Coteaux du Giennois appellation. At the time the overarching style seemed to be charming and easy-drinking, and rather varietally driven. But as the vines have aged, and perhaps as the family have honed their skills, the wines have improved. Today the next generation has hold of the reins, and from 2016 the domaine began a conversion to organic viticulture.
I was thus delighted to be able to taste some of the results of the family’s endeavours, three of their top cuvées in the 2019 vintage.