Chateau de la Roulerie
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In 1996, Philippe Germain’s father, Bernard, bought Chateau de Fesles along with Chateau de la Guimoniere and Chateau de la Roulerie from pastry chef Gaston Lenotre, who died at the beginning of 2009. Lenotre had bought these wineries in a fit of enthusiasm in 1991 following the wonderful vintages of 1989 and 1990, which unfortunately were followed by the severely frosted 1991, very mediocre 1992, average 1993 and difficult 1994. Making great sweet wines in the Loire is risky. Fesles and Guimoniere were sold off and they kept the gem, the ancient Chateau de la Roulerie, whose origins date back to the 11th century.
Philippe has been living at Chateau de la Roulerie since 2001 but it is only more recently that he has stamped his authority on the domaine. Indeed until recently all the wine was made at Chateau de Fesles with Bernard overseeing the operation, and with the help of brother Thierry. In 2004 Philippe took full control, and with him firmly in place operations moved to Roulerie in 2008, after renovation of all the buidings and installation of the equipment. Remarkably, this was the return of winemaking to the domaine after a 20 year hiatus, wine having last been made here only before the property was sold by previous owner Jadeau to the chef Lenotre.
The domaine has a total of 42 hectares, 38 of them planted, divided between La Roulerie (24 hectares) and Les Grandes Brosses (18 hectares), for a total of 17 parcels. All the wines come from their estate fruit, encompassing Anjou Rouge (20% of the production amongst 3 cuvees: Chateau de la Roulerie, Les Terrasses, Les Merances), Anjou Blanc (5 cuvees: Le Petit Chenin, Les Grandes Brosses, Chateau de la Roulerie, Les Terrasses, Magnolia), Coteaux du Layon and Coteaux du Layon Chaume. The vines are planted at a dense 4500 plants per hectare on schistous soils, ideal for fine wine production. The vineyards are all on the slopes and oriented South-Southwest, critical for even ripening in this northerly vineyard. Yields are kept to a low 25-30 hectoliters/ hectare. Dry white wines are only produced since the beginning of 2000. They were first going through malolactic fermentation (no more), had a little residual sugar and a strong oak character. The style has since evolved in favor of more balanced whites with higher acidity, more elegance (no more batonnage and skin contact) and discrete oak (Philippe now uses larger barrels, 600 and 700 liters). The wines are lightly filtered but never fined. There is very little free SO2 on the whites, 15 to 20 mg per liter.
Farming practices: the wines are produced organically and will be certified Ecocert in 2014. Since 2011, Philippe has started to convert to biodynamie and face the number of challenges presented by the conversion.
On Sale $14.49
Philippe Germain doesn’t believe in high alcohol for Chenin Blanc, thinking around 13% works best. Manual harvest, picking in tries, facilitates the management of ripeness and alcohol, as well as allowing for some fruit to be directed into ... more