Covering a diminutive 0.36 of a hectare sandwiched between two walls and overlooking the Loire, the Clos Dubois vineyard has been singled out to produce an exceptional wine. Aware of the potential of vineyards planted on these clay-limestone soils, considered to be some of the finest in AOC Vouvray, Christophe and Astrid Boutet – third-generation wine growers heading up Domaine Boutet-Saulnier – have thrown down the gauntlet. They aim to overcome natural barriers to obtain a top mineral white wine allowing Chenin to fully express its inherent tension. “This is a steep, staggered vineyard where management using a tractor is hazardous”. During a course at Amboise college, Astrid Boutet shared some thoughts with one of the managers who specialised in horse-drawn tillage. The couple was immediately struck by the idea and saw it as an alternative to machines for managing the soils at Clos Dubois. The technique worked and the horse accessed parts of the vineyard the tractor could not.
Although the 13.5 hectares of Domaine Boutet-Saulnier are farmed sustainably, Clos Dubois complies with organic specifications. “We have not applied for certification, it would be too expensive for a micro label totalling 800 bottles a year”, explains Christophe Boutet. “But we meet all the requirements – we really go to a lot of trouble with this vineyard!” Using manual vineyard management, restricted use of agrochemicals and picking by hand in crates, particular attention is paid to each stage of the process. After the selected juice has been in the press and the native yeast carefully chosen, the estate’s flagship label is matured on the lees for eight months. With its precise aromas and fresh, fleshy palate, this dry white wine has a cellaring capacity of a decade or so and is equally enjoyable with Loire whitebait, sushi and asparagus, and on its own as an aperitif.