Eight Generations at Domaine des Huards
Thank you Suzanne Barros for this post from Cour-Cheverny!
Our host for the tour of Domaine des Huards, tasting and fantastic lunch was Alex Gendrier, the 8th generation to run the estate in Cour-Cheverny, a small appellation with only 58ha of vines. Alex’s father Michel Gendrier stopped using chemicals in the vineyards in the 70s, began farming biodynamically in the 90s (one of the first estates in the Loire to do so) and by 1995 all of the production was biodynamic. Their received organic certification in 1998, and biodynamic certification in 2010 and they only use estate grown fruit from healthy vines that showcases their terroir and vintage. There are still issues that can occur throughout the year, but they believe that taking care of the vines in this manner makes them stronger and more resistant to disease pressure.
Dm des Huards produces wines made from several different varietals but the king of Huards is Romorantin, which was first planted on the estate in 1922. King Francois introduced Romo to the region in the early 16th century from its traditional home in Burgundy when he decided to plant vines at his mother’s castle in Romorantin, which is 20km from Domaine Huards. After planting vines around the area, the Romo was found to do the best in Cour-Cheverny.
Romorantin is not the first, second or third white grape that you think of from the Loire but I think it’s high time for that to change with the help of the Gendriers. Romorantin (or Romo) produces an amazing style of white with lots of texture, viscosity, fresh acidity and minerality. Incredibly delicious on its own, Romo is truly a wine for food that can stand up to heavier preparations.
As a big fan of biodynamic farming and wine, I have heard many producers spout the virtues of that method of farming, but I have rarely heard someone as eloquent and passionate as Alex Gendrier. As we walked through the estate, he told us about their use of music in the vineyards because they believe that different frequencies can help the vines compensate for various pressures. Unhealthy vines are obviously more vulnerable to problems, and it can become a vicious circle of treating problems in the vines that are caused by the herbicides and pesticides of conventional farming.
Most of the soil on the estate is clay/limestone, with 30cm of clay over limestone and there few neighbors to affect the Huards with their conventional farming methods
In terms of red in the region, there has traditionally been more focus on Pinot Noir with an interest in Gamay, due to its increased flexibility. In the region, there is plenty of humidity, rain and frost, for which they use low doses of copper, nettle and valerian as natural bug repellents in addition to chamomile tisane.
Interestingly, Romo is 25% of the estate’s production but it can be more challenging to farm than the other varietals. Fortunately, Romo gains complexity and secondary aromas with age and the acidity holds up.
It was amazing to witness the family’s passion for biodynamic viticulture, along with their expertise with this unique grape. Domaine des Huards a fantastic addition to our portfolio as well as one of my personal favorite producers. Thanks so much to the Gendrier family for their incredible hospitality!