Guide to the Loire regions

Côte Roannaise

Grower Profiles

Jean-Claude Chaucesse

Domaine de la Paroisse

The vineyards of Domaine de la Paroisse adjoin those of Domaine Sérol high up on the slopes between Renaison and Saint-Haon-le-Vieux, but their approach to winemaking couldn’t be more different. Created in 1610, these vineyards have continuously passed from father to son for the last four hundred years. The house, cellar and the old stables (now the tasting room) date back to 1753 when the property was first given its name. Robert Chaucesse was responsible for ensuring the domaine’s future, although surviving as a vigneron during the post phylloxera and post war period was not easy, and during this period the family also kept Charolais cattle on the higher pastures above Renaison. Recently retired, the domaine has now passed to the next in line. Jean-Claude is yet another Roannaise grower who is a graduate of the lycée viticole at Macon Davayé. He joined his father in 1996 after spending time gaining some wider experience in Oregon. The next generation is already assured by way of Jean-Claude’s two young sons.

There are seven hectares of vines, split into two equal parcels. The one surrounds the domaine itself, whilst the other is in the commune of Saint-André-d’Apchon. The vines are, on average, around 80 years old which helps to explain why four hectares are trained to gobelet. It is also the dictating factor for the need to harvest by hand. The oldest vines, which are located at the rear of the house, date back to 1878 and are probably the oldest grafted vines in the region. It is documented that phylloxera arrived in the Beaujolais in 1874, so one can assume it arrived here around the same period. There are also 0.7 hectares of 30 year old Chardonnay planted; the Chaucesse being the first within the Côte Roannaise to experiment with this variety.

The winemaking here is about as traditional as it gets in the region. There are fibre glass and stainless steel tanks here which are used for rosé, which accounts for about 20% of their production. The early drinking red, ‘Tradition’, is made from young vines and generally destemmed to ensure there is no unripe character from the stalks. It is the ‘Cuvée à la Ancienne’, however, that the Chaucesse are recognised for. The whole bunch cuvaison here typically lasts for ten days, allowing for spontaneous fermentation. The wines are fermented in century-old wooden fût with the must cap being immersed daily using the age old method of bodily contact; jumping into the vat and physically homogenising the fermenting mass. This method means that temperatures are harder to control, and it is common for them to rise to around 33˚centigrade towards the end of vinification. The resulting wine remains in the vats for around six months before bottling.

My appointment with Jean-Claude Chaucesse was the last of my week long sojourn in the Roannaise. When I mentioned this, he said, jokingly, that at least I had saved the best until last….

Jean-Claude thinks there is less of the variation in the quality of the wines around Renaison than is seen around the rest of the region in 2007, and he likes this vintage better than 2008. The wines here are consistent to the style in which they are made, and tasting through a run of vintages of the ‘à la Ancienne’ back to 2001, it’s clear that the wines are capable of ageing and probably do deserve keeping. These are very much in the class of cru Beaujolais , and an analogy can be drawn to the more ‘masculine’ styles of Morgon or Moulin à Vent. The Chaucesse’s reputation as one of the leading growers of the Roannaise is fully deserved.  

Jean-Claude Chaucesse
La Paroisse
T: + 33 4 77 64 26 10

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