RSJ's 30th anniversary: 1980-2010

2010 was a very special year for us as the RSJ Restaurant celebrated its 30th year. We held a number of special events through the year to mark our 30th birthday.

36th Year: 1980-2016

Another milestone with events happening during our 36th anniversary year.

Our producers

Ripe Cabernet Franc grapes: 2014 vintage 

Ripening Chenin Blanc: 2015

This is a new section on the RSJ Blog that celebrates the work of some of our favourite Loire producers. Over the next few weeks and months we will be  adding new profiles.  

List of producers: 

Pays Nantais: 
Domaine Luneau-Papin (Muscadet – Pays Nantais) 

Château Pierre-Bise – Anjou 
Domaine Ogereau – Anjou
Domaine de la Bergerie
– Anjou  

Domaine de Bablut – Anjou (coming)
Domaine des Rochelles  – Anjou (coming) 
Domaine des Hauts de Sanziers – Saumur (coming) 
Domaine de Nerleux – Saumur (coming) 
Château de Villeneuve – Saumur (coming)
Domaine des Roches Neuves – Saumur (coming)        

Domaine de la Noblaie – Chinon 
Frédéric Mabileau – Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil + Bourgueil
Clos Roussely – Touraine (coming)
Domaine Champalou – Vouvray (coming) 

Central Vineyards: 
Roger Champault et Fils – Sancerre
Domaine Treuillet – Pouilly-Fumé (coming)
Domaine des Ballandors – Quincy (coming)  



Pays Nantais 

The Luneaus in 2011: Monique, Pierre-Marie, Marie and Pierre 

Domaine Luneau-Papin, Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine 
Pierre and Monique Luneau, Pierre-Marie Luneau and Marie Chartier-Luneau
This domaine in Le Landreau has long been a beacon for top-quality Muscadet Sèvre et Maine through Pierre Luneau's very rigorous approach both in the vineyard and the winery. We are great admirers of Pierre and Monique's Muscadets that come from the heart of the Sèvre-et-Maine. Pierre and Monique are now stepping back with Pierre-Marie, their son, and his wife Marie Chartier-Luneau taking over.  

All the Luneau wines are sur lie, meaning that they stay on the fine lees until bottling at various times depending on the cuvée, starting in the spring and running through to September. This gives the wines more weight, a slight yeasty touch and a tiny prickle at the back of the throat as you swallow. Many of the wines are vinified separately – vineyard-by-vineyard, soil type by soil type. 

The best vineyards are picked by hand with the others machine picked. 

One of Luneau’s finest wines is called ‘L’ d’Or. It is vinified with ageing in mind and is bottled in the September following the vintage. It ages brilliantly – keeping its freshness for several decades while becoming more complex. 

Also excellent is the Clos des Allées – a parcel planted on mica-schist adjacent to the Luneau's home and winery.  

Also bottled in September is a single vineyard called Terre de Pierre, which belongs to Pierre-Marie. It is on both slopes of the Butte de la Roche with one side facing the rising sun and the other that overlooks the Marais de Goulaine with the city of Nantes in the distance. 

They also make a very good Folle Blanche – Gros Plant – full of flavour with matching freshness. Great with oysters and shellfish. 

The Luneaus also have a range of top-end wines that have long aging on their lees for at least 24 months and sometimes considerably more. These are Excelsior and Pueri Solis. Spending such a long time on their lees makes these Muscadets particularly complex and excellent with fine fish dishes. 

The Terre de Pierre in foreground
– Nantes in background
Gros Plant 'Folle Blanche du Pays Nantais',The Luneaus also have a range of top-end wines that have long aging on their lees for at least 24 months and sometimes considerably more. These are Excelsior and Pueri Solis. Spending such a long time on their lees makes these Muscadets particularly complex and excellent with fine fish dishes.


 Harvest time: hand picking Melon de Bourgogne 

Monique Luneau – the boss of the pickers 

 Pierre-Marie Luneau 

Marie Chartier-Luneau



Château Pierre-Bise – Anjou 
Joëlle, Claude, René and Christophe Papin

 Château Pierre-Bise, Beaulieu-sur-Layon 

Claude and Joëlle Papin harvesting in 2008

Christophe Papin in Savennières 

René Papin 

Another example here of a changing of the generations. Claude and Joëlle Papin, who have been running this estate are gradually retiring with their sons René and Christophe taking over. The Papins have vineyards on both sides of the Loire: Savennières on the north side and, on the south side, vineyards along the Layon.

Over the years Claude and Joëlle have built up Pierre-Bise's reputation. Claude is geological specialist. Visiting the vineyards with him is fascinating. Claude will relate the changing grasses and plants growing in the vineyard to the changes in soil. With different soils supporting different vegetation. Claude is a philosopher vigneron – translating his words into English during a tasting can be a real challenge!   

The Papins vinify their wines according to different soil types. The main property Château Pierre-Bise is not far from the Quarts de  de Chaume and overlooks some of the finest parts of the Layon valley. From here comes his powerful Anjou Blanc ‘Haut de la Garde’ made from 100% Chenin Blanc and his various concentrated cuvées of sweet wine.
The sweet whites from Pierre-Bise are truly outstanding. 

Claude is the président of the Quarts de Chaume producers and under his leadership the appellation's rules have been tightened despite the consistent opposition of the Baumard family, one of the most significant producers in the Quarts de Chaume. In 2011 this small appellation became the first Grand Cru in the Loire Valley.    

Over a decade ago Claude took over Francois Roussier’s renowned vineyard Clos de Coulaine in Savennières. More recently the Papins set up a joint venture in Savennières with Domaine Ogereau and Domaine de la Bergerie at the Clos du Grand Beaupréau dividing the vineyard up into three sections. 

As well as the whites there are also reds: a truly memorable and concentrated Gamay and a couple of Anjou Villages – one from vineyards on schist and one on spilite. The Anjou Villages tend to need time in bottle to show their best and to soften the tannins. 

Looking across the Layon from the south side 
towards Pierre-Bise that dominates 
the group of houses on the skyline  


Domaine Ogereau, Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay, Anjou
Vincent, Catherine and Emmanuel Ogereau

Vincent and Catherine Ogereau
Emmanuel Ogereau during the 2015 vintage – October 

Here, too, the changing of the generations is underway with Emmanuel Ogereau increasingly taking over from his parents – Vincent and Catherine. Emmanuel officially became an associate on 20th April 2015. Emmanuel is the 5th generation in this family of vignerons. The Ogereaus have owned this domaine since 1890s. 

Vincent and Catherine took over responsibility for the domaine in 1989 – the year when they made an excellent 1989 Coteaux du Layon St Lambert Cuvée Prestige and followed this success with an award winning 1990 Coteaux du Layon St Lambert Cuvée Prestige.    

Vincent is thoroughly modern in his approach to quality wine-making. His winery is impeccably clean with high quality throughout his Chais. Vincent is a great believer in Chenin Blanc. His Savennières is wonderful. His bright hued, dry Rosé de Loire has an enjoyable red fruit character with zest and style.

Vincent’s reds are some of the best in the appellation. His “straight” Anjou Rouge is nowadays made in a slightly lighter style for earlier drinking, whilst his 'Villages' wines are sterner stuff and need a few years cellaring to show their finest attributes. The Ogereaus top red is a single vineyard –
Côte de la Houssaye. This is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and only released in good vintages when the Cabernet Sauvignon ripens properly.

There are two dry whites:
an Anjou Blanc En Chenin made, as the name implies, from 100% Chenin Blanc and a Savennières Clos le Grand Beaupréau. This is from the joint venture vineyard with the Papins (Pierre Bisé) and the Guégniards (Domaine de la Bergerie). 

They also make very elegant and refined Coteaux du Layons – a range of three. First off a straight Coteaux du Layon Saint-Lambert and a top wine the Clos des Bonnes Blanches from a well-sited single vineyard that overlooks the Layon. Fermented in 500-litre barrels and the aged for 18 months this is only made in good vintages. This is one of the top sweet wines from the Layon.  

Then there is a recent introduction – Harmonie des Bonnes Blanches. This is lighter and less rich than Clos des Bonnes Blanches. It is also vinified in 500-litre oak barrels and aged for 15 months.  

Before returning to Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay Emmanuel had considerable experience working away from the Loire. He spent just over two years at Les Vignerons de Buzet from July 2010 to July 2012. Then he had a short spell at the Cave de Tain l'Hermitage from


Domaine de la Bergerie, Champ-sur-Layon, Anjou 
Yves, Marie-Annick and Anne Guégniard

Anne, Yves and Marie-Annick Guégniard
Domaine de la Bergerie is in Champs-sur-Layon, the next commune to the east of Saint-Lamber-du-Lattay. This 36-hectare domaine is now run by Yves and Marie-Annick his wife and Anne their daughter. Anne is the eighth generation of the family to be vignerons. Yves' grandmother bought the domaine in an auction by candle (à la bougie). 

In 1964 she passed the estate onto her daughter, Marie-Agnès, and then in 1979 Yves joined. In 2009 Anne joined her parents and is increasingly involved in running the domaine, which is now in conversion to organic viticulture.       

The Guégniards are close friends with the Ogereaus and the Papins. The three families exchange ideas as well as sharing a vineyard in Savennières – Le Grand Beaupréau. The Guegniards also have another vineyard in Savennières – La Croix Picot – further east than Le Grand Beaupréau and between Epiré and Bouchemaine. 

The whole range from Domaine de la Bergerie is impressive. Standouts include their Crémant de Loire – Chenin Chardonnay blend, Les Pierres Girard (Anjou Blanc – 100% Chenin, the two Savennières and two reds: the easy drinking La Cerisaie Anjou Rouge (80% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon) and Evanescence (Anjou Villages) – 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 

They also make very fine sweet wines topped by their Quarts de Chaume.

 Series of photos with the 2011 Quarts de Chaume – firstly Anne 



When Anne returned to the domaine, her husband David
Guitton opened the only vineyard restaurant – La Table de la Bergerie – in Loire as far I as know and very good it is, too. 36-year-old David had wide experience before opening his own restaurant: in Washington DC, Zurich and Lausanne, London and in Monaco. He has worked with Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon.  

   David Guitton taking a booking 

David Guitton (on the left) in his restaurant

Website: Domaine de la Bergerie 


Domaine de la Noblaie, Chinon
Jérôme and Élodie Billard 
Jérôme Billard – October 2015
Vintage time with a very young 2015 white
 Vines close to the family house

A few years ago now we needed a new Chinon as one of our previous producers had become rather erratic in terms of deliveries etc. We chose Domaine de la Noblaie, run by Jérôme Billard. This has proved to be an excellent decision: Noblaie's Chinons have understandably become very popular at the RSJ. We consider them to be now amongst the best wines of the Chinon appellation.

Domaine de la Noblaie is in Ligré on the south side of the Vienne – the river that runs through Chinon and joins the Loire at Candes-Saint-Martin. The domaine can trace its history back several centuries – it appears on a Cassini map of 1765. 

In 1952 it was bought by Jacqueline and Pierre Manzagol. They were originally from Corréze and ran a dairy in Poissy, one of the western suburbs of Paris. On a visit to Chinon they fell in love with La Noblaie and bought it on the spot. In 1953 the domaine produced just three barriques from five hectares of vines.

In 1968 Madeleine, their daughter, married François Billard from Bordeaux who was trained in wine, so brought with him his wine knowledge and his contacts in the wine trade. François became a professor of oenology at the Lycée Viticole of  Montreuil Bellay running the domaine in tandem. One of his pupils was Christophe Daviau of Domaine de Bablut.

By 2000 the domaine had 12 hectares of vines. In 2003 Jérôme, Madeleine and François, returned from working at Pétrus and Dominus (California). The area under vines had now expanded to 18 hectares. Jérôme's wife Élodie joined in 2006. By 2012 the domaine had grown to 24 hectares and a new and spacious winery was built in 2012. Although not fully finished the winery was just operational in time for the vintage. 

The wines 
Noblaie now produces four Chinon reds, two whites, a rosé and a Touraine Mousseux (sparkling).

The reds:  
Domaine de la Noblaie – the straight domaine Chinon emphasis on the fruit, aged in stainless steel for eight months.
Les Blanc Manteaux – single vineyard on a limestone ridge, aged for 12 months in 500-litre barrels. 
Les Chiens-Chiens – another single vineyard with a significant proportion of clay aged for 12 months in 400-litre barrels and then 8 months in stainless steel.
Pierre de Tuf: from vines planted before the 2nd World World on clay-flint. Vinified in a special stone vat hewn out of limestone dating from 15th Century. 12 months in 500-litre barrels and then eight months in stainless steel. 

The whites: 
Domaine de la Noblaie - the straight domaine Chinon emphasis on the fruit, aged in stainless steel for four months. 
La Part des Anges: made from very ripe fruit with some botrytised grapes. Aged in 500-litre barrels for 24 months. Capacity to age for many years. 

The rosé:
Gouette de Rosé: – fruit comes from the less well exposed slopes mainly at the bottom of the coteaux. Bottled early after four months in stainless steel, closed with a screwcap 

The Sparkling:  
MonAnge: fruit comes from the beginning of rows. Partial fermentation before bottling then at least 25 months sur latte.     

Jérôme about to test grapes             

 Jérôme in June 2006

François Billard 

The new winery in October 2012 
not finished but functioning 

2014: Jérôme loading the Pierre de Tuf vat

2014: Grapes going into the Pierre de Tuf vat

Website: Domaine de la Noblaie

The RSJ's retail list is here.

Page last updated: 6th January 2016

No comments:

Post a Comment