CHATEAU DE VILLENEUVE
Why purchase just any old vineyard when you can snap up one with an 18th century chateau, complete with sweeping views of the Loire?! This may or may not have been the train of thought of Jean-Pierre Chevallier’s parents when they purchased Chateau de Villeneuve in1969, but in any case we consider it a good buy.
The chateau had long been one in the hands of winemakers, with records showing wines produced on the site since 1577. Fittingly (and perhaps necessarily) a maze of old cellars, still in operation, can be found hidden underneath, and more recently in 2016 a modern winery was added to ensure the wines are made in the best of conditions.
The estate itself is composed of 22ha of Cabernet Franc, along with 5ha Chenin Blanc, planted at 5,500 vines per hectare on limestone soils, with an average vine age of 40 years. The vineyard has been certified organic since 2009, however Chevallier has been farming according to organic principles since 1993. It must also be mentioned, the nostalgic Chevallier also has a few small parcels of gorgeous 80-year-old vines from his hometown of Dampierre-sur-Loire.
In the vineyard, the utmost care is taken at each stage of the vine’s lifecycle. Chevallier prides himself on not taking ‘short cuts’, refusing to use chemical fertilizers or pesticides and working his vines and emphasizes that "in organic culture, we obtain more stable wines even at 13 ° and ph are lower. The roots really plunge into the ground.”
Come vintage time, all grapes are hand harvested and carried in small crates to reduce any unnecessary damage. This is followed by hand sorting on the sorting table, before they are gently delivered, with the help of gravity, to underground vats, thus avoiding the harshness of the pumps.
Aging takes place in a mix of foudre, 500L barrels, concrete and stainless steel tanks depending on the nature of the cuvee. Importantly, there is minimal sulfur used in the winery, and Chavallier does not add yeast or chaptalise.
Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc lovers should find their happiness with Chateau de Villeneuve wines. Quality is the number one aim for Chevallier, resulting in balanced, mouth-watering cuvees, reflective of the land in which they are grown and the expertise of a family with five generations of local knowledge. Happily, the sixth generation are already on the job, with Jean-Pierre’s two daughters set to continue the family tradition - we can’t wait to taste their legacy!