Guide to the Loire regions

Quincy
a
The Loire’s oldest Appellation Contrôlée

 

‘Ce beau village au faîte d’un coteau,
Pas loin du Cher et tout près du ruisseau,
C’est Quincy, Quincy, Quincy
C’est Quincy, des vignerons, le paradis, mais oui!’

                   - Extract from ‘Les Gars de Quincy’ by Georges Dangla, 1908

Contents: 

This page:

  • Facts and figures
  • Ten of the Best
  • Overview
  • History
  • In the vineyard
    Situation and orientation

    Communes
    Climate
    Soil

    Permitted grape varieties
    Planting density and pruning
  • In the cellar
    Wine styles
  • Recent Vintages

Links: 

Facts and figures – The appellation at a glance

Appellation Contrôlée: 6th August 1936
Vineyards in Production: 240 hectares (2008)
Number of Growers: 33
Number of Co-operatives: Nil

Communes: 2
Wine Styles: White
Permitted Varieties: Sauvignon Blanc
Declared Production: 11,670hl (2008)
Vine Density: 5,500 vines per hectare minimum
Yield: 60hl/ha


Ten of the Best:  

Sorting out the wheat from the chaff…

With relatively few growers in both Quincy and Reuilly and a fair amount of cross-pollination (a reference to various Quincy producers now making wine in Reuilly), I have offered a combined ‘Ten of the Best’. The precocious nature of these wines means that no tasting notes are offered and evaluations have been made primarily using the 2009 vintage as a benchmark. The growers in each section are listed in alphabetical order.

The Best Ten producers in Quincy and Reuilly:  

  • Domaine Bigonneau                               (Quincy and Reuilly)
  • Claude Lafond                                      (Reuilly)
  • Domaine Lecomte                                  (Quincy)
  • Domaine André Pigeat                            (Quincy)
  • Domaine de Reuilly                                 (Reuilly)
  • Jacques Rouzé                                      (Quincy and Reuilly)
  • Domaine Trotereau                                (Quincy)
  • Domaine de Villalin                                 (Quincy)
  • Jacques Vincent                                    (Reuilly)
  • Chantel Wilk & Jacques Tatin                   (Quincy and Reuilly)

Ten honourable addresses in Quincy:  

  • Domaine Sylvian Bailly                            (Quincy)
  • Domaine de la Commanderie                     (Quincy and Reuilly)
  • Domaine de Chevilly                               (Quincy)
  • Domaine du Coudray                              (Quincy)
  • Domaine des Grands Ormes                     (Quincy)
  • Philippe Portier                                      (Quincy)
  • Valérie Renaudat                                   (Reuilly and Quincy)
  • Jean-Claude Roux                                  (Quincy)
  • Jacques Siret, Domaine du Grand Rosiers   (Quincy)
  • Vincent Siret-Courtaud                           (Quincy)



Overview
Quincy (it rhymes with Nancy) is a small and typically paysan village serviced by a single lousy bar and a boulangerie with little else (apart from the obvious opportunity to taste with growers) to attract the casual visitor. In fact one wonders why, when the appellation was created in 1936, that it wasn’t christened after the neighbouring commune of Brinay which at least exudes some character and draws in tourists who come to admire the 12th Century frescos in its pretty little church. 

Situated some twenty kilometres north-west of the city of Bourges, the vineyards of Quincy are farmed (as in neighbouring Reuilly) mostly by vigneron-agriculteurs; at just 240 hectares in size it’s interesting to note that the appellation is smaller than the majority of the farms owned by the individual céréaliers.

Improvements in quality over the past two decades come down to the pioneering spirit of the likes of Jean Tatin who encouraged the planting of better quality vineyard material and was instrumental in establishing one of the two co-operation cellars that vinify a sizeable proportion of the appellation. Organic vineyard growth and a strong domestic following has also ensured that supply rarely exceeds demand and, satisfyingly, the prices remain lower than those commanded by the Sancerrois (the wines of Quincy and Reuilly are mostly between two-thirds and three-quarters the price of Sancerre) whilst the relative quality is often their equal. 

This fact hasn’t evaded the important Berrichone négociants, with both Henri Bourgeois and Joseph Mellot active in the appellation. Their presence here has only helped to consolidate the success and recognition of Quincy outside of France by introducing their international clients to the appellation, although official export figures suggests that only 16% of its production is exported - compared to Sancerre’s 53%.

Whilst the négociants have been exploiting Quincy, a number of independent growers in the appellation have turned their interests to buying and renting land in Reuilly. One would have thought that with their close proximity to each other there would have historically been plenty of cross-fertilisation between the two appellations, yet it is only the current generation of growers who have traversed the appellation boundary. And the traffic is mostly one way (there is only one bone-fide producer in Reuilly who is active in Quincy), the reason being that producers here are restricted to the production of white wine only but by exploiting Reuilly’s right to make red, rosé and gris, growers in Quincy can at least embellish their existing mono-cépage offering. It’s essentially a commercial decision. 

One anomaly that can’t be ignored is the omission of the village of Preuilly in the appellation statute. As the map (below) illustrates, its vineyards lie on the same north-south axis as those of Quincy and Brinay, enjoying the same climate, soil and orientation. So why then was Preuilly excluded from the appellation in 1936? Questions during my research came up with various theories, but it essentially resolves around a conflict between two men: the entrepreneur mayor of Quincy and the committed communist mayor of Preuilly. The two protagonists clearly had little in accord with the former blocking any advances by the vignerons of Preuilly. Some commentators believe that the growers were approached but didn’t want any part of it, clearly not understanding the potential long term benefits of belonging part of the fledgling Appellation Contrôlée initiative. Whatever the reason, Preuilly remained in the viticultural wilderness - producing humble Vin de Table for the next 37 years - until the commune was invited to become part of the Reuilly appellation in 1973. It is political decisions like this that undermine the credibility of the AC system, with natural cynics (like me) needing to look no further than the lieu-dit of Mirabelle - split between the two communes of Quincy and Preuilly - to highlight these hypocrisies. Within Mirabelle the northern half (located in Quincy) is planted to Sauvignon whilst the section in Preuilly is mostly Pinot Noir. It’s ludicrous.

So what differentiates the wines of Quincy from the other Sauvignon appellations of the Berry? It would be fair to say that the fairly formulaic production methods for the variety throughout the Loire can often blur any real sense of place, especially when growers employ commercial yeast strains (which they mostly do). First and foremost, Quincy needs to be a vin de cépage, displaying the typical characters Sauvignon. The lighter sand and gravel soils of the appellation mean that the wines barely show anything other than a modest sense of minerality or an identifiable soil type, as should be the case with a vineyard specific Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé. A classic Quincy should be light and fresh, floral and fruity; a wine that is destined to be consumed within the first couple of years as there is simply no real incentive to keep them. Beyond that, vintage character can and should be identifiable. In what would be considered a ‘standard’ vintage (more recently 2007 and 2008), one would expect the wines to display (what the growers would like to think as) blackcurrant leaf or cassis aromas and flavours which can tease the senses with whiffs of both fruit-like and vegetative characters emanating from the same glass. In leaner years (more recently 2004), the wines can appear stricter and unripe with the aroma and flavour profile moving towards a greener, cat’s piss expression. On the other hand, riper years (more recently 2005 and 2009) add greater texture to the wines, bringing them closer to the style that one would expect to find in neighbouring Reuilly.


The wine harvest - 12th Century fresco in the church at Brinay

History
Stone tools found in the sandy gravel soils of what is now the lieu-dit of Le Pressoir in Brinay attest to some sort of human habitation that dates back an estimated 700,000 years.

The name of Quincy is believed to originate from the name of Quintius, a leader of the Bituriges-Cubi, a local tribe centred on Bourges around the first century BC. We know that the vine has been cultivated in the Berry since Roman times although there is no documentary evidence as to which varieties might have been planted here. Certainly, Gregory of Tours (538-594) mentions in his work The History of the Franks, the existence of wine in the Berry by 582.

It’s believed that Sauvignon Blanc (or even Sauvignon Gris) arrived in Quincy during the Middle Ages with Benedictine monks, who are said to have planted Savignum at the Abbaye des Femmes de Beauvoir. Founded in 1234 by Robert 1er de Courteney (1168-1239), grandson of Louis VI, the abbey was located at Marmargne between Bourges and Mehun-sur-Yèrve. When Saint-Louis, King of France (1214-1270) and his mother, Blanche de Castilleaimaient visited Beauvoir, the royal dignitary’s departing message was ‘Bon Chair, Bon Vin!’ meaning ‘Good Food, Good Wine!’ Unfortunately, little evidence of the abbeys existence remains today.

By the turn of the first millennium, all the vineyards along the banks of the Cher were in the possession of the abbey at Vierzon. It’s believed that this is the source of vineyard material that the Augustine monks acquired when planting vines around the abbey at Saint-Satur (at the foot of the hill of Sancerre) and for the abbatiale in La Charité, sitated on the opposite bank to Pouilly-sur-Loire. In 1120 (Burgundian born) Pope Calixtus II cited the wines in official correspondence and the religious influence extends to various depictions of scenes from the viticultural year in both painting and sculpture, around the churches of the region. Recently restored stone carvings on the Gothic porch at the Cathédrale Saint-Etienne in Bourges were completed around 1225, whilst frescos in the churches of Brinay and Allouis which depict the wine harvest date back to the 12th Century.   

QUINCY – VIN NOBLE
Once considered the ‘Vin de Bourges’ there is an element of confusion as to who actually christened the wines of Quincy ‘Vin Noble’, a term that some growers in the appellation insist on retaining on their labels today. Chronologically, Jean, Duc de Berry (1340 – 1416) and the third son of King John II of France, is the first candidate.
Jean, who was a great patron of the arts, most famously commissioning the Très Riches Heures, would certainly have enjoyed Quincy as his local wine whilst in residence at his château in Mehun-sur-Yèvre. The other nominee is King Charles VII (1403 – 1461), often referred to derisively as the ‘King of Bourges’ since he spent much of his reign here. His own private cup-bearer (the Medieval equivalent of a sommelier), Jean de Maubruny, owned a vineyard in Brinay.

By the 16th Century the wines were being transported to Paris for the table of the Valois court.

THE 20TH CENTURY
Until the end of the 1800s the production in Quincy was centred on both red and white wines, although the arrival of railway links to the Midi meant that growers in the Berry were in greater competition with those in the south, resulting in a swing in production from red to rosé.

Phylloxera first appeared in the neighbouring département of Indre in 1878 and by 1885 growers were already grafting onto American rootstock. But during this period, many vignerons had already started to turn to farming cereals as an alternative to viticulture.

Laws passed in May 1919 and July 1927 sought to delimit the zones of production and to protect the names of specified regions. Increased demand encouraged a wave of new plantings during the 1920s, with this renewed interest culminating in the growers of Quincy, led by local producer Emile Roux (the great-uncle of current vigneronne Maryline Smith), lobbying the authorities to protect the good name of Quincy from abuse. Well connected in Paris, it was Roux who took the initiative and presented the case for recognition within the fledgling appellation system to the court of appeal in Bourges as early as 1931, his actions helping to accelerate Quincy’s accession towards some form of formal recognition. Famously, on the 6th August 1936, Quincy became the first wine producing region in the Loire valley to receive Appellation Contrôlée status, despite the vignerons having something of an amateurish attitude towards winemaking at that time.

The Second World War put a halt to consolidating Quincy’s position as the leading Sauvignon producing region in the Loire despite there being a further wave in planting in the years immediately after 1945. During the period, it was two ex-presidents of the grower syndicate, Gaston Lapha and Fernand Vilpoux, who were cited as the most important and influential vignerons within the appellation. By 1956 there were an estimated 250 winegrowers (although only 55 sold wine commercially) working a total of 150 hectares and producing between 4,500hl and 5,000hl each year. By the early 1960s, however, the appellation was retracting as agricultural workers began migrating into the cities and started abandoning viticulture. During this period the village became as famous for its roofers as its wine. It’s a peculiarity of the houses in Quincy that the roofs are mainly made of slate and vignerons often had a complimentary occupation as roofers. The nemesis came in 1975 when the vineyard area dwindled to around 100 hectares as old vignerons retired without successors. In 1985, Les Compagnons du Poinçon de Quincy was established. Made up from the remaining collective of growers, this brotherhood was created to support and help raise the awareness of the wines of the appellation.

AGRI-CHER, A FAILED INITIATIVE
Established in 1992 and based in Bourges, Agri-Cher was a co-operative set up for processing and selling cereals. As part of their expansion plans they also began to diversify into poultry and wine. Several growers in both Quincy and Reuilly, including the domaines of Jean-Paul Godinat, Houssier, Picard and Sicard (who were heavily involved with Agri-Cher by way of their position as local landowning gentry) all signed up to the scheme where they supplied their grapes to the co-operative. The grapes were then vinified in a purpose built cellar erected mid-way between the communes of Preuilly and Quincy. The wines were then sold and marketed by Agri-Cher; or at least that was the theory. Although wine was only a nominal part of their business, the run of poor vintages during the early 1990s did little to help their cause and the co-operative failed in 1996/7 leaving those who had supplied it with grapes a legacy of unsold (and unsaleable) wine.    


La Cave Romane

LA CAVE ROMANE – A CO-OPERATION CELLAR
The origins of the Cave Romane date back to 1992 when advisors from the European Unions Common Agricultural Policy, or Politique Agricole Commune, arrived in the Berry and recommended that cereal farmers explore their options in diversifying their crops. Following the lead of the Cave de Reuilly, the Cave Romane was conceived in 1993 by three céréaliers: Jean Tatin, Gérard Bigonneau and Domaine de Chevilly. The association vinified its first harvest (from seven different domaines) the following year. As a co-operation cellar its objective is to share resources, rather than grapes, which helps to distinguish it from a co-operative. The principle is so simple and sensible that it’s amazing that no other marginal wine region has emanated it.

The cellar is situated in farm buildings which date back to the 1870s and which once belonged to the Château de Brinay. Outside, it is possible to see the restored dovecote and pigsty with the old bergerie now being a wine storage room.

In 1998 the members of the Cave Romane also took over La Maison Blanche in Quincy. This facility is made up of two purpose built warehouses erected in the early 1990s by the Dumange family, owners of Domaine de l’Epinay in Vouvray. After developing 33 hectares of vineyards in the appellation (at a time when total plantings numbered around 180ha), the elderly grower retired and his son, Luc, lost interest and the vines and cellar were offered for sale. This created a number of new producers (also made up of mostly local cereal farmers) who saw an opportunity to diversify into wine.

Today, the two combined facilities in Brinay and Quincy process one hundred of the appellations 140 hectares of vines, vinifying around 2,500 hectolitres each vintage. In addition, two of the members, Jean-Charles Bourgat and Jacques Tatin, who have expanded into Reuilly also deliver their crop to the Cave de Romane.  

In the vineyard    

Situation and orientation
 
The vineyards occupy a low-lying narrow plateau that runs parallel with the left bank of the Cher for approximately ten kilometres, although at one point the vines spill over to the opposing side of the river. To the west the vines mostly butt up against the local forests of Brinay and Quincy which help afford some minor protection from the Atlantic fronts. The vineyards tend to face south-south-east and benefit more from the morning sun. A between 110 and 130 metres above sea level, the elevation is not high.

Communes
There is nothing complex about the appellation of Quincy; a single variety grown over two communes on a north-south axis. Any red or rosé wines produced within the appellation defer to the generic appellation of Vin de Pays Coteaux du Cher et de l’Arnon, although very few examples are encountered even within the region.

Permitted communes  

Quincy
Brinay

NOTABLE LIEUX-DITS
For such a small appellation, Quincy is split into some tiny plots (for reasons that are explained below); the map highlights almost 50 separately named lieux-dits making it appear even more complex that the average Côte d’Or commune. Sites which deserve a special mention include:

Gatebourse – To the north of Quincy, this is believed to be one of the oldest sites and is made up of deep gravel and sand. Jacques Tatin acquired one hectare here of vines that were planted in the 1960s.

Clos de la Victoire – A plot referenced widely by numerous growers during this research. Some vines here date back to the early 1920s. It is believed that this lieu-dit was once under the ownership of the Château de Quincy prior to the Revolution.

Les Brosses - Between 2000 and 2002 members of the Cave de Brinay purchased 60 hectares of land, known as Domaine de la Brosse, in the centre of the appellation. Although this was considered virgin land, it is possible that vines were historically established here.

Villalin – Actually the name of the hamlet on the right bank of the Cher, but used colloquially by the growers when discussing the two lieux-dits of Le Grand Vigne’ and ‘Les Petits Vignes’. Documents dating back to 1608 refer to the propagation of the vine at Villalin. Today, there are four producers who maintain vineyards here: Maryline Smith, Jacques Rouzé, Domaine Mardon and Les BerryCuriens.

La Pointe - At the southern-most point of the appellation, this lieu-dit was planted in 1985 and subsequently acquired by a consortium of Cave de Romane growers (Jacques Siret, Jean-Claude Roux, Jacques Tatin, Domaine Sylvian Bailly, Domaine du Coudray, and Domaine Lecomte) when the Dumange’s withdrew from the appellation.

Les Rimonets (aka Les Rimonées, Les Rimonés) - between Quincy and Preuilly is made up of sand and silt. Producer Jacques Tatin rents land from the famous porcelain producing family of Deshoulières. It once formed part of the land that was once historically owned by the Château de Quincy.                                                                                    Les Brosses

Le Pressoir - An historical site that has unearthed tools used by early man. This lieu-dit is located close to the village cemetery in Brinay.


Le Pressoir towards the spire in Brinay

The vineyards of the Cher and Arnon
For an historical perspective, it is interesting to note that the following are cited as wine producing communes in the 1962 edition of Vignes et Vins de France by René Poulain and Louis Jacquelin.

Commune                             

Saint-Armond-Mont-Rond
Colombier
Venesmes
Brinay
Lazenay
Lury-sur-Arnon
Massay
Drevant
Saint-Georges-de-Poisieux
Quincy
Chéry
Preuilly
Vierzon-Bourgneuf
Cerbois

Climate
The vineyards of Quincy are famously fractious, historically split into parcels of 0.25 hectares; not so much due to any inheritance rights, but rather as an insurance policy against frost and hail. One producer, Domaine Mardon, works 16 different parcels of vines within the appellation to negate the overall risk. Frost is a perpetual danger given that the vines are situated on the low, flat plateau so close to the river. On average there is a serious attack here every five years and in order to combat the issue the growers have collectively erected some 32 wind turbines, referred to as either poliennes or éoliennes. They are reputed to be effective to minus 5-6° centigrade and are strategically (and theoretically) placed to protect the entire appellation. 

In terms of rainfall, the average precipitation is around 700mm a year and most of this falls during the winter months allowing Quincy a relatively dry growing season. The region, however, is often subjected to localised but severe hail storms which are capable of wiping out entire parcels of vines.

The harvest tends to happen a few days later than in Reuilly but around ten days earlier than in Sancerre due (in part) to the early warming of the sand and gravel soils in spring (Sancerre, at an average altitude of 310 metres, is also much cooler).

Soil
Whilst Quincy might share the same white grape variety as found in Sancerre and neighbouring Reuilly, the geology could not be more different. There is also an understandable logic as to why the appellation only allows Sauvignon; the soils along this section of the Cher valley are simply not suitable for the ripening of Pinot Noir. 

The village sits at the south-western extremity of the Kimmeridgean Chain, a relatively narrow band of hard Portlandian which runs diagonally across northern France for approximately 200 kilometres. The bench rises in the Aube (the southern-most part of Champagne), encompassing the vineyards of Chablis before it enters the Berry. In the Centre it is known colloquially as either the calcaire du berry or la champagne berrichone (so called because the Kimmeridgean marne is almost identical in profile to that found in Champagne) and there can be little coincidence that the vineyards of the Coteaux de Giennois, Pouilly-sur-Loire, Sancerre, Menetou-Salon – and Quincy - all rest on top of this cordon of rock. At Reuilly, a final outcrop of the Kimmeridgean appears on the left bank of the river Arnon before it descends under the lower Cretaceous where it has no further influence on the vineyards of the Loire. Layered above the calcaire du Berry is an agglomeration of marls and clays mixed with mollusc and crustacean shells. Collectively known as the Lacustres du Berry, this subsoil was deposited here 10,000 years ago after the last Ice Age once the shallow ocean which then covered the whole of the Berry retreated.

The reason why Quincy is different to the other Sauvignon based appellations of the region is that here the Portlandian bench has been eroded and submerged by the tertiary outwash of the Cher. Since the end of the last Ice Age debris has been carried down stream, from its origins in the Massif Central, lining the valley floor - in various degrees of thickness and composition - with sand, clay and gravel (made up of quartz and quartzites). Within this agglomeration there is also the remains of an alluvial pebble bed made up of rolled river stones, or galets and silex. The depth of this detrital cover varies along the plateau, but can range from just 40cm to several metres deep. All of this lies above the layer of Lacustres du Berry which in turn rests on the Kimmeridgean limestone below. 


Jean Tatin explaining the profile of the sandy soils

The majority of Quincy’s vineyards are planted on the left bank of the river where the soil make-up is mostly alluvial sand and clay. Once the bed of the Cher, paradoxically these soils now sit on the plateau that runs parallel with the course of the river. On the opposite bank the profile changes to more sand and gravel. Whatever the composition, these are very poor soils, but growers believe that the more serious wines are derived from vines planted on the sandy-clay profile of the left bank, whilst more elegant and lighter examples are associated with those vineyards established on sandy-gravel.

The low fertility of these sand-clay-gravel soils helps to keep in check the natural vigour associated with the Sauvignon vine. Yet sand is beneficial in that it is quick to warm up in the spring, giving the vines a head start and accelerating the ripening process (even if the downside is greater risk from spring frosts). It also allows for good drainage, with the lower strata of clay below also helping to contain excessive growth and giving the resulting wines greater structure. Except in one or two locations, most notably in a crescent of exposed limestone on the right bank of the Cher, it is rare for the roots to penetrate as far as the Kimmeridgean. 

Back on the western plateau, a series of miniature valleys, or vallons, which run perpendicular to the Cher are made up of deep, fine grained particles. These tend to be the least favourable sites; not only because the soils are less interesting, but also as these low-lying areas are most at risk from frost. The cadastre of the 17th Century shows that the vineyards at that time were planted within the very heart of the village of Quincy, typically on the sandy-gravel soils. In Brinay also, the vines were much closer to its centre than they are today; their location now replaced by a modest housing estate.


Vine roots penetrating through the sandy soils

Such is the complexity of the soil types of Quincy, a study produced by the Chambres d’Agriculture du Cher et de l’Indre in 2000 identified the following essential six soil profiles within the appellation.

Soil profiles

Terroir calcaire sur Lacustre                                       9–12% Quincy and Brinay Found closest to the Cher where the river has eroded through to the bedrock, so primarily made up of limestone mingled with small stones and between 35-45% of clay. This is not ideal for vines.

Terroir à graviers et sables sur calcaire                       5% Quincy and Brinay
This is generally heterogeneous, made up mostly of clay and sand with some gravel and small stones. This retains moisture and offers the vine sufficient potential for growth.

Terroir sur alluvions anciennes sablo-graveleuses          24% Quincy, 13% Brinay
These are ancient alluvial deposits on the higher plateau and made up of light, sandy soil or sand and gravel. The soils are deep and allow for good drainage. 

Terroir sur alluvions anciennes des bords de plateau      19% Quincy, 9% Brinay
Located on the centre of plateau these are light sandy-silt or sandy-clay with more clay below and offer good drainage.

Terroir sur alluvions anciennes des plateaux                 20% Quincy, 40% Brinay
Situated at the western edge of the plateau these are light sandy-silt, sandy-clay or silt-sand with very little stone. The deep soil makes it difficult to initially establish the vines.

Terroir complexe                                                      10% Quincy and Brinay
Heterogeneous soils with clay at deeper levels. There are no stones in the make up of the soil profile and the poor drainage means it is unsuitable for the vine.

 

Permitted grape variety
Sauvignon Blanc
The success of the variety within the Berry (the variety represents 70% of the surface area of the vineyards of the Centre Region) is perhaps best explained by the grapes ability to express itself on the specific soils of the region, combined with characteristic aromatic profile derived from this continental climate. 

In the 1950s everything in Quincy was planted en massale to ensure a diversity of stock, whilst today there are around 15 clones available for the growers to select from. Two, however, 108 and 378, are most widely recognised for quality production. Others grown include 530, 159 and 107.


Sauvignon vines at Villalin

OTHER VARIETIES

Pinot Noir
It’s not unreasonable to assume that one might find a little rogue Pinot Noir planted in the appellation despite the varieties incompatibility to the soils here. Where it is grown it is obliged to be sold as Vin de Pays du Cher et de l’Arnon. Two examples worth seeking out are wines produced by Domaine Vilallin (from vines acquired from Raymond Pipet after his death) and André Pigeat, who has a little Pinot Noir planted in the lieu-dit of ‘Les Coteaux’. Jacques Rouzé mentioned that his father planted Pinot Noir in 1936 so that his workers and harvesters could drink some red wine.

Today, the décret states that it is forbidden to plant Pinot Noir (even for Vin de Table) and not to plant the same amount of Sauvignon.

Gamay
In the 1956 edition of Les Vins de Loire, Pierre Brejoux states that Quincy was planted to around 210 hectares vines of which 150ha were Sauvignon. This indicates that there were a further 60ha of non-Sauvignon varieties planted towards the end of the 1940s; the majority of which will have been Gamay. In his 1962 tome, Cépages et Vignobles de France. Tome III, Pierre Galet notes that there were nine hectares planted in Quincy; something confirmed by Hélène Mardon who stated that her grandfather planted the variety field blended with some Gamay Teinturier.

Le Genouillet
Popular in the Berry until the arrival of phylloxera, Le Genouillet was generally vinified with other red varieties where it produced wines for early consumption. Now largely forgotten, it is believed that there were over 3,000 hectares (more than modern day Sancerre) of Le Genouillet collectively planted within Quincy, Reuilly and the now defunct vineyards of Issoudun. It was abandoned after the crisis due to its low yield, inability to ripen fully and its sensitivity to oidium and grey rot.

Several vines were discovered close to Issoudun in 1990. Cuttings were propagated at the conservatoire at Tranzault (within the Indre department) and an experimental parcel was established in 2005 under the supervision of Onivins. Domaine de Villalin in Quincy has since planted 150 vines for historical interest where the resulting wine is said to offer a flavour profile of red fruits - framboise and cherry.

Other historic varieties
Galet (1962) notes that in addition to Sauvignon and Gamay there were a further seven or eight hectares of mixed plantings which including Malbec (Côt), Muscadelle, Gouche, Chasselas, Chenin, Melon, Pinot Gris, Durif, Limberger, Cabernet Sauvignon and numerous hybrids.


Cover crop in Saint-Victoire

Vine density and pruning

Vine density
The minimum planting density is 5,500 vines per hectare with a maximum of 1.45 metres allowed between the row and between 0.90 and 1.25 metres within the row. Most growers plant at a density of between 6,000 and 6,600 vines per hectare with the main consideration being the ability to harvest by machine. Virtually everything in the appellation is picked mechanically; the only two exceptions noted in the course of my research were with Philippe Pigeat, who hand harvests his oldest vines, and Pierre Rangon who picks about 10% of his crop manually.

Trellising and pruning
Whether the grower’s choice is Double or Single Guyot -the two approved trellising systems - they are selected, primarily, to accommodate machine harvesting. Single Guyot involves pruning each vine back to one principal cane and two short spurs, allowing for six to eight (and a legal maximum of ten) ‘eyes’ on each cane and two on each of the spurs, whilst the Double Guyot allows for a maximum of 12 ‘eyes’ per vine.

Rootstocks
The two most widely used rootstocks are 3309 and Riparia Gloire. The latter is said to adapt well to Sauvignon grown on the light, sandy soils of Quincy.

Declared plantings
The original 1936 décret for the Quincy sets the boundaries at around 500 hectares for the appellation (more than twice the current hectarage), with rights for just an additional four or five hectares granted by the authorities each year.

Declared Plantings

2008 – 240ha
2007 – 240ha
2006 – 223ha
2005 – 208ha
2004 – 174ha
2003 – 174ha
2002 – 174ha
2001 – 174ha
1998 – 167ha
1975 – 100ha
1936 – 220ha

In the Cellar
Vinification should, in theory, be conducted within the appellation - but there are exceptions. For example when the cellar in Quincy used by Jean-Paul Godinat stopped operating, he successfully applied to the authorities to allow him to vinify his wine at his cellar in Menetou-Salon, although the grapes are still pressed in Quincy.

In the revised 1974 edition of Les Vins de Loire, Pierre Brejoux states that Quincy produces between 4,500 and 5,000 hectolitres per year. The figures below help demonstrate how quickly the appellation has been re-established since the early 1970s.

Recently declared production

2008 – 11,670hl
2007 – 13,844hl
2006 – 12,283hl
2005 – 12,337hl
2004 – 12,635hl
2003 – 8,292hl
2002 – 8,369hl
2001 – 9,900hl
1998 – 10,257hl
1977 - 486hl

Wine styles
The generally formulaic approach to fermenting and ageing Sauvignon Blanc is little different in Quincy to anywhere else in the world. On the whole grapes arrive at the cellar already de-stemmed (a function of mechanical harvesting) and are simply pressed and the must is allowed to settle. A couple of growers in the appellation, notably Domaine de Chevilly (for their Cuvée Zoé) and Domaine Lecomte (for their Vieilles Vignes release), perform a macération pelliculaire on their reserve or later bottlings.

Fermentation is conducted using selected yeasts of which there are around 15 different commercial strains to choose from. In the course of my research in Quincy, I found only two growers, Philippe Pigeat and Maryline Smith, who rely solely on indigenous yeast with even the most traditional grower in the appellation, Pierre Ragon, partly using selected strains.

In order to qualify for the appellation, growers need to achieve a minimum potential alcohol of 10.5% before chaptalisation can be considered. This, however, has hardly been an issue in the past few vintages since between 2005 and 2009 levels were achieving between 12 and 14% alcohol naturally.

For the most part, the fermentation is conducted within an inert vessel such as stainless steel or fibre glass. There are four growers within the Cave de Brinay who dabble with barrel fermentation, invariably oak, on one of their smaller cuvées, although Jean-Charles Borgnat has been experimenting with acacia wood more recently. Another, Jacques Tatin, uses oak sourced from the local forest in Brinay and employs the services of cooper Fabien Gautier in nearby Menetou-Salon.

The average length of fermentation takes between 10 and 15 days to complete after which it would be expected that the wines would dry. The wines are then racked off their gross lees in November and allowed to age on their fine lees, perhaps with some batonnage until the wines are prepared for bottling - mostly in the spring following the harvest (although such is the current demand for the appellation some growers are rushing wines to bottle before the end of the year).  

Recent Vintages  
Typically the harvest in Quincy happens between the 15th and 20th September and takes around eight to ten days to complete. My own notes, taken during my numerous visits to the appellation since 2003, have been embellished by reports issued by the Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins du Centre (BIVC).

2010
This is a very good ‘classic’ Quincy vintage reminiscent of 2002. The climate during the 2010 growing season was relatively dry with something of an alternative rhythm of periods of hot weather tempered by cooler conditions. All stages of maturation - budding, flowering and véraison – were late. After budding, flowering started after about three weeks. The low temperatures in May and in early June prompted some coulure. The last ten days of June and all the month of July were particularly warm (2°C higher than usual). August and September were cooler, but allowed for heterogeneous ripening. The ban de vendange in Quincy was on the 20th September although many growers took advantage of the good weather and waited a further week before picking. The harvest itself was conducted over a three week period and was stopped by three days of rain that started on the 7th of October. The humid conditions did create some rot later on, although in general this did not adversely affect the harvest. Most had finished by the 15th October. Alcohols were generally correct, between 11.5% and 12% meaning that very little chaptalisation was necessary this year.

2009
This was the fifth successive vintage where the grapes reached a potential alcohol of between 12 and 14 degrees naturally.

Following a relatively cold and dry winter, April began with three weeks of temperatures 3°C higher than the norm. May was also warm, but marked, on the 7th of the month by the first of three destructive hail storms which reduced the crop. The principal vegetative stages (budburst, flowering, véraison, maturity) occurred up to 2 days earlier than the average of the last fifteen years. The temperatures in June and July were normal for the season, although more isolated hail storms caused further damage. It rained for a total of 13 days in July; with over 85mm of precipitation. This regular watering maintained the humidity of the soil at a sufficient level until the veraison. Mildew was a constant threat and remained a concern for the growers throughout the season. Thankfully, higher than normal temperatures during August and September (along with a drier climate) helped preserve the health of the crop. Overall, the yields were among the lowest seen in recent years.

The small crop ensured that sugar levels rose rapidly and attained particularly high levels; one must go back to the famous 1947 vintage to find such high concentrations thorough the entire crop. Acidity levels remained in place primarily thanks to cool nights during the first half of September and the dry period. The start of harvesting was spread over two weeks. Reuilly and Quincy started between the 12th and 15th September, with most growers picking either side of the 27th September.

With the sugars and acidity in balance, the principal deciding factor as to when to pick each parcel revolved around the aromatic maturity of the Sauvignon. Whilst the wines of Reuilly seem very aromatic this vintage, Quincy is a little more restrained.

2008
This is one of the latest vintages of the past ten years with the vine’s principal vegetative phases being similar to those in the 1980s.

Budburst was around 25 April followed by regular and uninterrupted growth, but spring bought plenty of rain and the vegetative cycle was delayed going into May which started off hot. Temperatures, however, soon descended to lower than what would be considered usual for the period and flowering began in the 20th June and lasted for around three days. By the end of the month rain showers were regular but lighter.

The ripening period occurred during a rare and beneficial dry spell. During the first phase, it was very slow then suddenly accelerated with the arrival of fog and mist in the beginning in October. The grapes were rich in sugar with some concentrations attaining very high levels. Cold nights prevented excessive degradation of malic acid and permitted a favorable evolution of aromas in the whites. Harvesting began in Reuilly on 22nd September and in Quincy on the 29th September - due to higher levels of acidity. Picking had finished by the 10th October. A healthy year all round.

2007
This is probably the weakest year of the decade in Quincy. A warm spring and a cool and rainy summer determining the conditions of this year’s vintage.

A memorably warm April bought on an early budburst. May and June, however, were wetter than average. Work in the vineyard needed to be performed quickly due to the rapid growth of the vines which were already three weeks in advance by the beginning of June. A cool and damp early summer meant that by the end of July worried winemakers were surveying their vineyards; the threat of mildew and rot a potential issue. August was dry with moderate temperatures, but on the 24th of the month the weather changed; a dry and cold north wind arrived and began to dry out the vines. This was followed by warmer days and cool nights. In these conditions, sugar production was accelerated and the degradation of acids slowed. The aromas of the Sauvignon developed slowly during the long ripening period, despite the precocity of the year.

2006
This was a hot and dry year marked by large climatic variations. After a dry winter, the vine's vegetative cycle began with welcome humidity; March and May were particularly wet. This created water reserves in the surface soil levels that were to prove very useful. June and July were very hot and dry (+2°C for June, +5°C for July compared to the seasonal average). These conditions suited vines where the growth was already two weeks earlier than normal.

In August, temperatures were -3°C lower than usual, whilst September - 2.5°C above the seasonal average - bought two weeks of very hot temperatures and no rain. The second half of the month was mild with a few light scattered showers. By the time of harvest the grapes were in excellent condition, with both sugar and potential alcohol levels rising quickly towards the 14th September after which they assumed a normal rhythm. Acidity and pH levels remained good thanks to the stability of the tartaric acid throughout the maturation. Cloudy skies beginning in mid-September permitted the preservation of aromatic intensity and freshness.

But the key to success was to harvest quickly and grapes were harvested in record time. Picking was concentrated during a period of 10-12 days: any sooner and the grapes would have been insufficiently ripe and later they would have lost their aromatic appeal and become over-ripe. The official harvest period was announced for 11th September for Reuilly and 13th September for Quincy.

2005
An excellent vintage produced following an ideal growing season. Generally warm and dry, the spring and summer were punctuated by alternating hot and cool periods. The very hot temperatures encouraged a rapid development of the vegetative cycle through the end of July. A cooler August allowed the vines to recover and begin the maturation phase. The low amount of precipitation, both regular and moderate, provoked an early stop of the vegetative growth. The moderate temperatures had a very positive affect with acidity levels remaining stable and balanced through to the end of the harvest.

Winemakers approached the harvest confident in the knowledge that the dry soils and absence of rot would permit them to pick at optimum ripeness. The harvest began in fair weather. Unusually, the first grapes to be harvested in the Berry were in Sancerre, beginning 7th September for some parcels of early-ripened Blanc. Reuilly started on 9th September with Quincy a day later.

2004
After the unusual heat wave of 2003, there was a return to aromatic and fresh wines in 2004. The vine growth cycle was about 8 days late when compared to the last 20 years. Night time temperatures were normal but daytime figures were often below average which helps to explain the slow vegetative cycle.

The season began calmly and was relatively dry with a virtual lack of vine diseases. On the 7th July there was a thunderstorm, the hail not only damaging the fruit but also affecting the baguettes which inevitably had a detrimental effect on the following year’s yields. Due to the storms the conditions became more humid with mildew and oidium also becoming a threat and requiring very close monitoring.

The first half of September was dry and warm with temperatures of 25° to 30°C which accelerated grape development and consolidated the problems caused by the July rains. Then sugar accumulation returned to its usual pattern and the reduction of acidity slowed. Conscious of the importance of the harvest date and despite the advancement of the season, winemakers wisely exercised patience and waited for full maturity. By offsetting the risk of losing part of the harvest, they succeeded in optimizing the quality of the grapes. In Quincy, the ban de vendange was on the 27th, although most growers here waited until the second week of October to harvest. In addition, the vast majority of grapes were picked and brought in under the best conditions and lower acidity toward the end of the season compensated for some of the higher levels experienced at the beginning.

Vital for quality in 2004 was the elimination of surplus grapes during the growing season. This was a vintage that has required a great deal of attention throughout the year, both in the vineyard and in the cellar.

2003
Remembered as a very hot year and the earliest harvest since 1893. During the vines vegetative cycle from 1st April to 30th September, the average temperature was more than 2.5°C above normal. For long periods (the second half of April, all of June, between the 10th and 25th July and the first half of August), temperatures were between 4°C to 10°C above the seasonal average.

These high temperatures had a negative influence on both quality and quantity, parcels of young vines suffering burnt leaves and grapes resulting in significant losses. Yet 2003 was not a year of excessive drought: timely rain between 30th June and the 4th July and again on the 17th August provided sufficient moisture. Typical September weather pattern began in late August: cool nights, morning dew and warm afternoons, but by this time the crop was already in the cellar. Sugar levels continued to climb right through the harvest achieving levels of concentrations rarely seen before, but acid levels tumbled leaving flabby, short lived wines.

Reuilly, acknowledged as the hottest place in France this season, started the harvest on the 19th August. Quincy began to harvest on the 4th September. This was generally a year to avoid.

2002
A very successful season.
Spring frost that affected some regions was negated in Quincy thanks to the installation of the turbines. Flowering was extremely fast due to a hot spell in June, which caused some issues with abortion. High temperatures in mid-August ensured véraison was completed homogenously. The harvest started in mid-September in dry but cool conditions.

2001
The mild winter favoured an early budburst. The flowering was between the 10th and the 25th June. The vegetative season was more humid than in recent years with the threat of mildew requiring constant vigilance. The climate of 2001 divided the maturation into two phases. September's cool temperatures slowed the ripening and acidity levels remained high which prompted those brave enough to make the decision to delay the date of harvest by about ten days in order to obtain good maturity. The first couple of weeks of October brought warm weather (day and night) which rapidly accelerated the ripening of the grapes, ensuring a rise in sugar, the balancing of acid levels and refining of Sauvignon aromas. Returning to more normal harvest dates, the first grapes were harvested in Reuilly and Quincy around the 25th September. Encouraged by the continuing fair weather, many growers chose to wait as long as possible before picking with some holding off until the 15th October. They were well rewarded; the last grapes harvested being in good condition.

2000
The start of the growing season began around April 15th; a little more precociously than in an average year. An unusually hot period in May and June speeded up the vine growth and in the middle of June the flowering was practically finished. A cool and humid July slowed the evolution, obliging wine growers to pay careful attention to the state of the foliage. From the month of August the climate was favourable, with the maturation taking place slowly. The last three weeks of the month were excellent, ensuring a good important accumulation of sugars and the acid content remained well-balanced. The weather remained mild which allowed the wine growers to harvest parcels as they ripened. The harvest started around the 18th September for the earliest Sauvignons.

1999
A good season throughout. Budding was early, commencing between the 6th and 10th of April and flowering between the 10th and 20th of June. Summer storms obliged wine growers to be very vigilant concerning the strong pressures of mildew, but measured treatments ensured healthy foliage. From the end of August to the middle of September warm days and nights speeded up the maturation process and developed very healthy grapes.

1998
The return of a very classical vintage. After a normal berry setting, hot weather in August scorched some grapes. Rain in September gave rise to fears of rot but generally this was a good quality harvest.

1997
March was very warm and the accelerated ripening posed potential issues with the risk of late frosts in April. Cold weather in June caused problems with flowering, coupled with storms in August which meant there were threats of disease. Finally, the grape harvest took place in good conditions – apparently the best in 50 years.

1996
The exceptional weather conditions from spring to autumn permitted a harvest that was exceptionally healthy. This was the best vintage since 1990.

1995
This is a classic if undistinguished vintage which was also affected by frost.

1994
Another vintage ravaged by frost. This should have been the first vintage for Christophe Gallon of Domaine des Grands Ormes in Quincy , but the entire crop fell victim to the gelée.

1993
A rainy September and cool temperatures delayed the maturation. Nevertheless the good health of the grapes produced a very classical vintage.

1992
This year was marked by rain at harvest.

1991
Like everywhere in the Loire, the vineyards of Quincy suffered the damages of a particularly devastating spring frost. The harvest was small but heterogeneous.

1990
An exceptional vintage. The weather conditions were excellent from flowering to harvest.

1984
Another frost affected year; probably the worst vintage in the past 30 years.

1978
A wash-out during flowering and a violent storm on the 29th July left the vignerons with practically no harvest to sell for a second consecutive vintage.

1977
The crop was devastated on the 9th April with a 90% loss for the vintage. Just 5,400 cases emerged from the entire appellation this vintage. 


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