Olivier Lemasson – Les Vins Contés
Based in Monthou sur Bière in the valley of the Cher. Olivier studied and worked as a somellier before he felt he got bored of stiff restaurants. He started working at Eric Macé in Rennes and luckily he was the first cave to stock natural wines in the city! He spent 4 years interning at Marcel Lapierre before spending a whole year there between the chai and the vines. He set up a négoce structure in 2002 with Hervé Villemade who left the project in 2006 to focus on his own domain. Nowadays he is the one in charge but gets helps from friends like Jeremy Quastana for the every day tasks in the vineyard and in the cellar. Olivier buys all of his grapes from growers he trusts and also owns 2 hectares of his own. All the grapes from the négoce are organic and he even had to put an end to some partnership because of the reluctancy of some land-owners to invest in organic agriculture. He vinifies a total of 12 hectares in Cheverny and 2 hectares in Touraine (the parcels he owns). However he rejects the A.O.C and bottles all of his production in Vin de France. It was not a choice at first: in 2006, he had 300 hectoliters of wine waiting for the jury’s approval and every single cuvée was declassified for “atipicity”. A common yet very vague notion that the jury uses mostly to reject wines made with minimal intervention. This decision is based on a tasting with a panel of growers, sometimes neighbours. He was rejected a second and third time, still on the notion of “atipicity” although the chemical analysis came out perfectly, no excessive volatile acidity for example. Olivier’s wine did not taste like the jury wanted or expected it to, in a Loire A.O.C.
He initally thought he would struggle to sell out the 300 hectoliters as Vin de Table, especially for the export market but everything went smoother then he expected. It was harder but he decided since to not worry about the A.O.C and its jury panel and bottles everything straight in Vin de Table. His vinification is straightforward: hand harvested, whole cluster carbonic fermentation of 10 to 30 days for the reds, no pigeage or racking.
Vin de France – “Cheville de Fer” 2016
Vineyard: grapes from a parcel in Couffi, no certification but chemicals were never used.
Grape variety: 80 to 100 years old Côt vines (Malbec)
Terroir: heavy clay and flinty clay
Winemaking: hand harvested, whole cluster carbonic maceration for 10 to 30 days. Aged 12 months in barrels, no S02 at any stage.