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In honour of his upcoming masterclass with us in London, we’ve interviewed Anjou legend Emmanuel Ogereau about the idiosyncratic world of Anjou Noir. Please email to attend.  To celebrate Ogereau's visit, we're offering 15% of all of his wines until March 20 with the code ANJOU15.



What is in schist that gives it such a profound effect on the wine?

Schist is a metamorphic rock and generally results in soils that have a very low clay content.


When looking at the Coteaux du Layon and Savennières hills - both schist - the soils here are also very thin and stoney. As such, the water reserves are very low - sometimes less than 80mm. This lies in comparison to the limestone in Saumur or Montlouis for example. 


All of this comes together, resulting in extremely low vigour of the vines. In these conditions, Chenin gives a lot of phenolic content in the skins.


The challenge as a vine grower is to control the stress of the vine and find good physiological balance and ultimately, delicious grapes. Our schist terroirs naturally give a lot of power and concentration to the wine.


Your Vent de Spilite is very idiosyncratic - what makes Spilite special and what should we expect in the glass?

The slopes of the hill Pierre Bise form a sort of island of Spilite in the midst of an ocean of Schist. Spilite is a volcanic/magmatic rock - a form of basalt. It is rich in iron which gives a red colour to the soil, as well as being extremely rich in Magnesium and poor in Potassium.


Like with our Schist, the soils of the Spilite are also very stony and thin and give a lot of concentration to the grapes. 


This vineyard lies at the top of Layon fault facing across the southwest of Anjou. It is incredibly windy and I am convinced that wind is very important in vine physiology and the taste of the grapes. 


The concentration of Magnesium is so high here that it is very difficult for the roots to absorb Potassium which results in even more concentration and low pH at the press. It is a very unique place and produces a very idiosyncratic form of Chenin; electric, with so much energy.


I find that Spilite produces wines with a strong structure and a fantastic energy at the end of the palate; you have a kind of fresh wave at the end which cleans all the texture and power from the mid palate.


To finish talking about this particular site, it is important to note that we are alongside a botanic reserve that is home to an array of wild meridional flora and fauna. I strongly believe that this botanical diversity is very important for the terroir character of these wine. 


What are the main disease pressures that you face in Anjou?


Downy mildew pressure can be very high here in the west part of France and powdery mildew pressure is increasing.


Actually, the biggest fungal grape disease is Botrytis for us. Chenin and botrytis form a sort of marriage, which can of course have great results and not such great results! The best outcome is noble rot and this ability of producing fantastic sweet wine. The worst case scenario is grey rot. Chenin is very sensitive and we often lose grapes because of bad botrytis. 


Wood disease (Esca) is a huge problem and unfortunately, Chenin vines are very sensitive to this. It is a big challenge. We have to think deeply about our viticulture, the way of pruning, the genetics, the fertilisation…


Anyway, these diseases are nothing in comparison with the effects of global climate change.


Now, our region is very impacted by frost damage; we suffered terrible damage in 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2021. It is a bit crazy. We try to fight - for example we’ve tried to cover the vineyard with winter sails which is very effective and has a low carbon impact but still, the situation is extremely difficult. On top of frost, there is drought, which was an issue in 2020 and 2022. 


As paysan vigneron, we can see it is very difficult to adapt with climate change.


Luckily, Chenin is a very adaptable grape and even in the hot vintages, it maintains very nice acidity.



How does Schist perform in different vintages?


We love schist because it gives us wines with a unique style that express deep flavour, texture and concentration, with a beautiful finish and lots of bitterness and acidity of course. However, it is a difficult sort of terroir with a low tolerance of extreme weather variation. The yield potential is already very low - we are very happy if we get 35hl/ha for dry Chenin.


So the vintage effect is high in our region. For example, 2021 is showing good concentration, big acidity and fresh nearly vegetal aromatics, whilst 2022 is showing a lot of texture, dry extract and a surprising energy for its low acidity. Meanwhile, 2023 is a different balance with low alcohol content for Anjou Noir and a perfect phenolic ripeness with apples and pears aromatics.



You have been working with many different vessels for fermentation and ageing. What have you learnt? How do the different vessels work with schist? Does this differ from Spilite?


I still have so much to learn about ageing Chenin. I am only at the beginning of my trials and experiences.


Here, it is important to remember that Chenin is a son of Savagnin and so, it has this very special enzymatic profile and it can be beautifully oxidative. At the same time, it can be very reductive on the lees. In its youth, Chenin is very shy on the nose and can be seen as having a somewhat boring aromatic expression. Meanwhile, on schist terroirs, the texture of Chenin is enough in itself. With this in mind, I find that sometimes the tannins from the barrels provide too much heaviness on the palate.


Having explained all these characteristics, from the 2022 vintage we have been trying lots of new vessels. Whilst removing a host of old and tired barrels, we took the opportunity to try some new foudres, amphoras and concrete eggs.


My primary goal always is to highlight the character of each terroir and to showcase Chenin without any major reduction or oxidative notes. My second goal is to avoid strong new oak flavours or heavy oak structure.


I blend different vessels for each terroirs according to their characteristics.


Bonnes Blanches naturally gives a lot of texture (from the clay deposits) and bitterness at the end of the pallet (from the deterioration of schist). Here, balance is paramount. It is important to soften the structure through a long and gentle élevage.


Vent de Spilite has a big tannic structure and this incredible fresh “second wave” at the end of the pallet. It could wear beautifully some new oak flavour and plays a game between deep and fresh sensations. At the same time, it is important to keep a very clear finish. 500L barrels blended with amphoras makes for very interesting results. 


Clos le Grand Beaupréau has this kind of elegance and finesse with a lot of airiness. It is a bit more aristocratic in style. I don’t want to add any weight with ageing. I like to blend used foudres and amphoras for this wine. 


As far as reds are concerned, from 2021, we have stopped oak ageing with Cabernet Franc. The idea is to show a very pure expression of floral notes and the graphite characters of Cabernet Franc grown on schist.


With Cabernet Sauvignon in the Côte de la Houssaye cuvée, we are working with a blend of concrete tanks and 500L barrels from the 2022 vintage.

What is the difference in vinifying semi-botrytised Chenin and Chenin without botrytis?


In the past, my parents made some dry Chenin with a bit of noble Botrytis. The results were beautiful but Botrytis has a very strong impact on aromatics and enzymatic pool in the wines so that you lose the advantage of ageing on the lees. 


How do you manage the reduction in Chenin Blanc? What is the balance that you’re wanting to strike - when is it too much?


I love my wines not to be too immediately open. Instead, just a bit reserved and perfect after an hour in a decanter. Chenin’s reduction just isn’t quite as beautiful as what it can be with Chardonnay. As such, we do aeration at the end of fermentation to reduce the reductive potential. Then, we do a few lees stirrings at the very beginning of ageing so that the lees doesn’t remain too reductive.


What are your thoughts on lees ageing with Chenin Blanc?


This is a big question. In Anjou and Savennières, our new generation has this culture of long ageing on total lees. With climate change and warmer vintages, I think we will have to change a bit, with probably shorter ageing on lees or a long ageing, but only on fine lees.


Your focus is predominantly on Chenin, but what other grapes interest you on Anjou Noir?


Of course, Chenin is our king grape. It has been grown in Anjou for at least ten centuries. It is the noble Anjou grape. 


At the domaine, we have old vines of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon which were both planted by my grandfather.


I am also very interested in our old local red grapes, such as Grolleau. It is very well adapted to climate change and to growing on schist soils. It is our “Cinsault”; low alcohol, light structure and with lots of floral notes and spiciness.


We are also replanting Pineau d’Aunis. I love this grape with short maceration.


I am also convinced of the potential of Gamay on schist. It works very well when blended with Cabernet, adding some freshness and fruits.



Can you tell us more about the role of Cabernet Sauvignon in Anjou?


Cabernet Sauvignon on schist is unknown and underestimated. This grape is seen as being a bit  old fashioned, but it works so beautifully here. There is a real link between this grape and schist and creating something with a very unique expression. You can feel this savoury finish - a kind of bloody iron finish. Aromatic plays green and black notes at the same time. The structure shows present but fine tannins with a great freshness.


Cabernet Sauvignon is very skilled at taming the austerity and minerality of our schist and has great ageing potential.


What are your thoughts on the role of old vines?


We are lucky to grow old vines of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon as it gives great  concentration. A lot of our Chenin vines are younger. We are in the midst of replanting our massale selection on adapted rootstock. Genetic is a key. It is a very long subject with the context of climate change. 


What do you think is the future for Anjou Noir? For example, appellation changes?


It is a very exciting moment for our region. It has been a long time that there has been a big interest in Loire but today people are understanding and (re)discovering all the specificities of Anjou Noir. Our wines have a huge potential but it can be tough as a first approach. Today, sommeliers andwines lovers in general have a big interest in the mosaic of Anjou terroir.


There, there is a big dynamism with so many top producers and a great diversity of family estate, new adventures, small winegrowers, boutique negociants…


With the development of organic viticulture and the return of “Vin de Lieux dits”, Anjou is back on its historical place as a wonderful wine region. 



Who are you influenced by? What regions, wines, producers have sparked something in you?


The magic of the Loire is a kind of solidarity between growers. I can not go without mentioning my friends from the Loire: Sérol, Luneau-Papin and so many others that have given me a hand and so much advice over the years. 


Stéphane and Carine Sérol insisted on a quick conversion to Biodynamic practices.


Locally, Jo Pithon and Patrick Baudouin have really shown me the idea of exploring all the diversity of Anjou Noir’s mosaic.


Whilst in Montlouis, Jacky Blot has shown me all the dedication needed to produce great wines every year as well as a great sense of team building. 


I love to speak  a lot with different growers and to share views and ideas. Just recently, I had very interesting discussion with Olivier Pithon on the ageing of white wines.

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