Guide to the Loire regions

Côte Roannaise

Grower Profiles

Domaine du Picatier
This domaine was previously run by Pierre Pousset who retired in January 2007. He handed over this seven hectare estate and cellar to Géraldine and Christophe Pialoux, who settled here in preparation for the 2006 harvest. Géraldine was born in the Roannaise, about 30 kilometres from the cellar, whilst Christophe originates from the Auvergne. He studied at the lycée viticole in Beaune before spending ten years working for Maison Drouhin. They come to the Roannaise with some new ideas and, in tasting through their first wines, bring a degree of much needed competence with them. There is much work to be done, however, in the vineyards which have been sadly neglected, and in the cellar is currently a mess. There are plans to develop a chambers d’hôtes over time on a piece of land opposite the house. In the barn there stands a redundant mechanical harvester, should anyone be interested in making them an offer.

The vineyards here are situated at the point where the slope meets the plain and the profile of the soils are different, with outcrops of granit blanc alongside those of the more typical granit rose. On the former, there is a single hectare of 40 year old Pinot Noir planted as well as one hectare of Chardonnay, planted here in the early 1980s. This is one of the reasons that attracted the Pialoux’s to the property, but they also have aspirations to plant some Viognier and Roussanne too. The couple have a clear vision of what they want to achieve in the coming years, with the primary objective being the transformation to organic farming and to have their vines certified by the 2011 harvest.   

The cellar looks like an old fashioned, and derelict co-operative from the 1930s with some makeshift additions; a combination of cement tanks, large tonneau and 600 litre demi-muids. For the moment at least, the Pialoux’s have to work with what they have, although their primary objective was to make wine more naturally; using indigenous yeasts and no SO2 during the fermentation. The Gamay and Pinot Noir receive a classic approach, with no destemming and an eight to twenty day cuvaison, depending on the variety. To date, the Pialoux’s have labelled all their production as Vin de Pays d’Urfé (including the Gamay, which would be entitled to the Côte Roannaise AC), as they want to produce wines ‘without restriction’ that the appellation laws bring. For the moment, the wines are also sold without mention of the grape variety. The ‘Auver-Nat-Noir’ is from Pinot Noir and declassified to Vin de Table aged for 11 months in barrel. The Vin de Pays white sold as ‘Le Blanc’ is from Chardonnay and is also raised in oak. Their rosé makes use of both direct pressure and saignée, and there are two separate red wines for the Gamay; ‘La Cuvée’ and ‘La Cuvée 100%’ which is made in a primary Beaujolais style.

With the Pialoux’s only just established, it’s hard to comment on their first releases, but there is no questioning their determination and vision for the future. They will certainly be one of the growers to watch over the coming vintages and their winemaking philosophy is laudable.

Géraldine et Christophe Pialoux
Domaine Picatier
Le Picatier
T: + 33 4 77 62 19 95
P: + 33 6 20 92 30 90

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