A Visit to Yannick Amirault, 2017

Pinpointing the vines of Les Malgagnes on a map is difficult enough; the lieux-dits of Bourgueil and St Nicolas de Bourgueil seem to always be much broader than I expect them to be, with ill-described boundaries, although I am sure the locals know at exactly which row of vines one lieu-dit ends, and another one begins. Locating a specific parcel of vines when driving back and forth along the numerous single-track roads that carve up these two neighbouring appellations is even more of a challenge. After doing one complete circuit around a section of the St Nicolas de Bourgueil vineyard, passing pickers (and more than a couple of mechanical harvesters) along the way, I hadn’t spotted anyone even vaguely resembling Benoît Amirault. I restarted the circuit once more, but this time resolved to stop and ask directions from the only group of vendangeurs I had passed who had been picking by hand.

Yannick Amirault

As soon as I stepped out of the car I knew this wasn’t Les Malgagnes; we were just too far down the slope. After a short chat I had no new idea of which direction I should head in to find Benoît, their advice essentially “try higher up the slope”. Thanks, but I had already worked that one out for myself. I returned to my car and nosed my way uphill, turning left up what looked like a dead end, one which I was absolutely certain couldn’t lead up to Les Malgagnes. I should have learnt by now that when I am absolutely certain of anything, I am usually wrong. Two minutes later I discovered another team of vendangeurs secreted among the vines, busily snipping bunches into their baskets. And when I heard a familiar voice shout out my name I knew I had found Les Malgagnes, as well as Benoît Amirault (pictured above) and his team.

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