Château des Vaults in Savennières dates back to 1495, and was inherited by Michèle de Jessey in 1962 from her childless aunt Madame du Closel. Michèle and Jacques de Jessey turned the small family estate into Domaine du Closel. The entire vineyard is located on the most western hill of Savennières and includes some of the best parcels in the AOC: Les Caillardières and Clos du Papillon. The topsoil is shallow, very warm and consists of purple/green schist and sandstone enriched with volcanic rocks in the best areas.
Evelyne de Pontbriand, Michèle and Jacques’ daughter, took over the estate in 2001. As a lover of botany and nature, she quickly converted the farming practices and today the entire estate has been converted to organic and biodynamic practices in order to best express the different terroirs. She is constantly searching for cultural practices best adapted to these austere sites of Savennières and has deeply changed vinification practices in the cellar. Vinification is done very naturally and with indigenous yeasts; sulfites are only added in tiny doses when needed. The wines are raised on lees from 12 to 26 months. The rhythm of fermentation is always respected.
The other experiments have focused on pruning: new plantations are pruned in the ancient style of gobelet, allowing the vine to grow bunches all around and have more exposure to sun and wind. Instead of being cut, the growing branches are now gently wrapped around the top wire. Evelyne believes that foliage thinning is traumatic to the vines, as leaves are the plant’s vital organs. She has quickly noticed a change in the aromatic palate of the wines. Much focus has also been dedicated to soil work. Different plants, such as cereals and cloves, have been used as green fertilizers; the idea is to let indigenous vegetation grow in order to reestablish an authentic biodiversity in order to help fight insects and pests.
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