DOMAINE DU PETIT CÔTEAU
Facts and wines
Domaine du Petit Côteau in Vouvray was founded in the early 2000s by Christian Feray. The cultivation method is organic. The 15 ha. field is on a slope between Vernou and Chançay, where the plants are protected from cold winds and ensured good sun exposure. Here, in a soil consisting of clay and lime, the Chenin grape acquires an intense flavor. The wines are sparkling, still and sweet of good quality at affordable prices.
- Vouvray Les Tuffières Brut 100% Chenin blanc
- Vouvray demi sec 100% Chenin blanc
- Vouvray L'Etoile 2010 100% Chenin blanc
- Vouvray Sec Grenouilles 2013 100% Chenin blanc
Domaine du Petit Côteau was founded in the early 2000s by Christian Feray, who already owns a number of wine castles in the area around Vouvray. Christian Feray's story is quite fascinating: He has a long career behind him as a surgeon and is therefore now a wine producer, but it started more modestly:
Feray's parents were both field workers on a farm. In the 50s, the father, who was an enterprising man, got a job as a truck driver. The job was hard, every day he lifted many hundreds of kilos of heavy goods for a number of working hours that far exceeds what we know today. Subsequently came the opportunity to buy an old truck. It required lighting a small fire in the winter to heat the oil, but it ran and the father thus became an independent truck driver and created a small transport company. Christian Feray remembers that as a 12-year-old he had to help his father after school load the truck with heavy recycled metal, stones or cowhide. Christian Feray nevertheless got good results at school and became a trailblazer: first he trained as a school teacher and later he continued his studies at medical school.
In 1994, at the age of 60, Feray retired to become a winemaker. He had to learn everything from scratch, and the start was far from lucky: a week after he had bought the first fields, the region – on March 14 – was hit by a very hard frost. 95% of the buds were destroyed. The rest was sorted by a hailstorm during the summer.
With a lack of harvest and a depleted treasury, the project was thus threatened from the start. In the following years, Feray learned how many skills you need to master in order to grow vines and turn grapes into good wine, as well as that in the Touraine region it is also necessary to have sales talent, as the wine does not sell itself quite as easily here as in example in Sancerre, which has a good international reputation. But with a determined effort and help from competent people, luckily Christian Feray managed to succeed in the world of wine.
A PROTECTED OASIS IN THE BRENNE VALLEY
Domaine du Petit Côteau is located in the village of Vernou-sur-Brenne, 6 km east of Vouvray. You must follow the Loire River and turn north into a small valley where "La Brenne", a tributary of the Loire, flows. Here on a slope between Vernou and Chançay, you find a field called "Les Grenouilles" (the frogs). The valley protects against the cold winds and the slope ensures good sun exposure, while allowing the water to run down. In the soil, which consists of lime and clay, the Chenin grape acquires an intense flavor. The organic cultivation ensures a low yield and a good anchoring in the soil. This gives a considerable concentration and length in the taste as well as a characteristic mineral touch.
ONE GRAPE – THREE TYPES OF WINE
"Les Grenouilles" is made exclusively in steel tanks and without malolactic fermentation, which gives them a fresh, uncomplicated and clean character with notes of apples, flowers and green herbs. In order to balance the acidity and make the wines welcoming, the producer chooses to leave a small, almost imperceptible amount of residual sugar, which rounds off the taste in an elegant way.
Caravinsérail was founded in 2002 with the aim of spreading awareness of this still too unknown wine region, which produces some extremely interesting wines – not least when you take the low prices into account. The house does not own vineyards and does not produce any grapes, but instead buys wines from a handful of carefully selected winegrowers and markets them under its own label.
This is a classic négociant model, where an actor with market expertise buys the goods from those who are good at producing them, but do not necessarily have the sales opportunities or the desire to do so. Caravinsérail differs from many other négociants by its small size (only approx. 150,000 fl. / per year) and its focus from the start on the Ventoux area, which is based on the very strong local expertise of the founders.
Caravinsérail offers a range of wonderful wines – from the charming and uncomplicated to the more ambitious – which perfectly illustrate what Ventoux has to offer: intense southern wines with a fresh and balanced character at very attractive prices.
Ventoux – an attractive area with excellent, balanced wines at low prices
The freshness of the wines comes from the cool air currents created by the high mountain. In a period of significant climate warming, when many wines from the South of France, and Southern Europe in general, have challenges with high alcohol percentages and heaviness, the freshness of the wines from Ventoux is a great advantage for these wines.
The extremely attractive prices are not due to a lack of quality, but probably mostly – still today and despite undeniable commercial successes – a lack of knowledge of the area and its potential as well as a lack of a clear image among consumers and opinion makers. The best wines from here therefore constitute (while they last) some of the best value-for-money in the entire Rhône valley.
Caravinsérail – a house under change
We have had the pleasure of working with Caravinsérail since 2004 and have had considerable success with their wines, including in the restaurant market. We also happen to have a small influence on its history. During a dinner in Copenhagen in 2013, where we had invited him and a few others, the current owner told us that he wanted to sell the company. Also sitting at the table was Xavier Logette, who is the export manager for another of our suppliers, Château Gigognan, in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The two sounded good together, and after a few years of collaboration, Xavier Logette has taken over Caravinsérail.
This will mean some interesting changes for the house, which will expand its range with wines from several other places in the southern Rhône and in Provence, as well as an even greater focus on organic wines - something we like about Terroir Wine Shop!
It will therefore be exciting to follow Caravinsérail's development in the coming months and years.