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Domaine du Clos de l'Elu

Interview met Grégoire du Bouëxic van Domaine du Clos de l’Elu.

When did you buy the domaine?

- We bought Clos de l’Elu on December 2007. Our first vintage was 2008

- The previous owners of Clos de l’Elu were “industrials”, working with harvest-machine, and ‘chemically’. They used to sell most by tank, BUT they had fabulous terrroirs!

- All the current wines we have now are our creations.

Did you decide to start working organically straight away?

We switched to organic straight ahead, but made all the organic papers in 2010.

This means we are in ‘conversion to organic’, and will be ‘Organic’ starting 2013 vintage (the one we have in barrels).

What are the varietals of your domaine?

We have 8 varietals: Sauvignon, Chenin, Pineau d’Aunis, Cabernet Franc,  Chardonnay, Grolleau, Grolleau Gris, Gamay.

- Most of our production is on Cab Franc (L’Aiglerie, Magellan) and on Chenin (Bastingage, Chaume)

- We planted, 2 years ago, more Pineau d’Aunis: today, we only produce 500 to 1,000 bottles of ESPERANCE, and the plan is to reach 3,000 bottles/year

 How many hectares of vineyard do you currently have and what’s the total production?

 - We produce around 60,000/70,000  bottles/year

 - We bought a 25 hectares vineyard, went to 30, passed to 24 and now 22 hectares on production, because we select our terroirs, and want to have very high-end, low-productivity terroirs.

What would you consider to be the philosophy of your company?

Philosophy:

o   Essentially, we want to make high end wines, what we call in France, “des Grands Vins”. High end wines must be the expression of the Terroir (this is why it took us 2 years to find fabulous terroirs), nothing more.

o   For this:

§  We want to live in good health, and for a long time, so we use no chemical poison and such stuff.

§  Organic agriculture is not a goal or a religion, it is just the only logical way to have wild yeast (necessary for the expression of Terroir) and work properly.

§  We want high concentrations, so productivity needs to be small (we plan to reach 30/35 hectoliters/hectares, but up to now, we never went over 25-27), and we do not use fertilizers (even organic ones)

§  In the cave, all we use is (minimum of) sulfites. Sometimes, when there is no need of sulfite, we do not use sulfites (Terre 2011; Espérance 2011 and Expérance 2012).

But first of all, for High End wines, there must be no “bad surprise” at the opening the bottle, so we use sulfites when necessary. Total level of sulfites is between 15 and 60 milligrams (a little more for sweet wines: around 100/120).                             

o   We are convinced the Loire Valley has an enormous potential, and this is the reason why we bought the vineyard in this area.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the background of Thomas and yourself?

Background:

o   Thomas is an agronomic engineer, and he always worked in wine-production: first in California, then in Champagne, and then in south of France, in Provence.

o   I am a certified public accountant, and worked essentially in Sales, as Export Director, and then as Sales Director, in American companies (nothing to see with wine).

o   When we met, both of us used to live in Reims (capital of Champagne)

o   Thomas wanted to buy a vineyard, I wanted to buy or create a business, and I was passionate with wine.

o   We thought it made sense to start something together, in wine production, having 1 expert in wine, and 1 expert in sales.