The Chateau du Petit Thouars has an extraordinarily long and rich history. Built in the early 1500s as a sort of “low-key hunting lodge” (an amusing notion, given the house’s immensity and grandeur) for a wealthy family from the town of Thouars (hence the name “Petit Thouars”), the 150-hectare estate is run today by Sebastién du Petit Thouars, the twelfth generation to dwell here since his ancestor George purchased the property in 1636. George was a diplomat for the famous Cardinal Richelieu, and the generations who followed him managed to survive several centuries of remarkably turbulent French history; one of Sebastién’s forebears even fled the French Revolution and fought in the American Revolution.
This friendly, extremely energetic and intelligent couple combine a deep appreciation for their family’s history with a desire to push their wines and their vineyard management to their maximum of expression.
Though records and physical evidence exist of wine having been made on the property centuries ago, it wasn’t until the late 1970s that the enterprise was revived—this time, by Sebastién’s father, who gradually planted fifteen hectares of Cabernet Franc (plus a little Chenin Blanc) immediately behind the house itself. Although Sebastién spent much of his younger years in Paris, he and his wife D’Arcy moved with their two young children to the chateau in 2013, and they have since made wine their foremost focus. This friendly, extremely energetic and intelligent couple combine a deep appreciation for their family’s history with a desire to push their wines and their vineyard management to their maximum of expression, and we are thrilled to begin our partnership. Chateau du Petit Thouars is located in the commune of Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne, in the southwest part of the Chinon appellation, along the south bank of the Vienne River (a tributary of the Loire), and immediately east of Saumur-Champigny—in fact, the limit of the Saumur-Champigny appellation is visible from the estate’s westernmost holdings. When the Chinon appellation was created in 1937, growers in Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne opted out, putting their money on the “Touraine” designation instead—probably the “wrong” call in hindsight, but understandable given Touraine’s broader name recognition at the time. In any event, the commune successfully lobbied for inclusion in the Chinon appellation after Touraine’s AOC laws changed in 2012 to forbid 100%-Cabernet-Franc wines, and thus from 2015 on Chateau du Petit Thouars’s wines are labeled as Chinon rather than Touraine.
In contrast to the sandy soils that predominate further east in the appellation, the vineyards around Petit Thouars are clay-limestone—giving the red wines impressive potential for structure and complexity (much like those from Saumur-Champigny, in fact), as well as being particularly suited to producing outstanding Chenin Blanc. Sebastién and D’Arcy have been working toward fully organic viticulture, having eschewed the use of non-organic treatments except as an ultimate last resort (i.e., when a crop is on the line). The vineyards and cellar are managed by Michel Pinard, a born-and-bred Chinonnais who worked for many years as the right-hand-man of Charles Joguet—one of the appellation’s most famous and respected vignerons. A true man of the land in both appearance and spirit, Michel uses his profound, bred-in-bone familiarity with the particularities of this cépage in these soils to craft beautifully balanced, classic, unforced Chinon of immense expressive power. His deeply-rooted mastery of craft marries wonderfully with Sébastien and D’Arcy’s youthful zeal and vision.
In Organic Conversion
Copper sulfate, with synthetic treatments used as a last resort only when a crop is on the line
Annual ploughing to maintain vineyard health
Trained in Guyot and planted from 1978-1988 and in 2010
Controlled through severe winter pruning and debudding with a green harvest if necessary
Entirely manual and into small cagettes, usually from mid-September to early October
Entirely estate fruit
White wines ferment spontaneously in stainless-steel tanks. After total destemming and a 1-2 day cold soak, red wines ferment spontaneously in open-top tronconic oak foudres and stainless-steel tanks. Cuvaison lasts 10-30 days, depending on vintage and cuvée.
Red wines see daily pumpovers during cuvaison
Blocked by naturally high acidities for white wines; spontaneous, following alcoholic fermentation for red wines
Chinon blanc spends 18 months in 225-l neutral oak barrels purchased from Château Guiraud in Sauternes. Les Georges spends 6 months in stainless-steel tanks. L’Épée spends 18 months in stainless-steel tanks and neutral 225-l oak barrels. L’Amiral spends 24-48 months in neutral 225-l oak barrels.
Wines remain on their fine lees until assemblage prior to bottling
FINING & FILTRATION
Diatomaceous earth filtration