Vouvray, Loire Valley, France
This small Domaine is situated on the famous flinty slopes of the Vouvray region just to the north of the majestic Loire River. It produces tiny quantities of exquisite white wine from very old Chenin Blanc vines. Their soils are packed with flint and silex – miniscule million year old sea fossils, dating back to a time when the sea covered this part of Northern France. The modern day soils now give perfect drainage in this cool wet region.
Domaine d’Orfeuilles was founded in 1947 by Paul Herivault. This vineyard is now cultivated by Bernard Herivault and his son. They make every effort to proudly maintain the traditions in the cultivation and production of their vines. Resulting in clean yet unctuous viscous wines that show a plethora of qualities from fresh lime and fennel seeds to dry savory “flinty” notes.
For me Vouvray encapsulates what I love about wine, flavour, the ability to age and history. One of the great wine books is Wine & War by Don & Petit Kladstrup and one of the amazing stories is that of Gaston Huet, a winemaker in Vouvary. Huet was called to active duty; early in the war he was captured by the enemy in Calais. He was separated from his family and vineyards for five years while in a German prisoner of war camp. By the time he returned to his vines in Vouvray, he was a 100 pounds lighter and in tears over the reunion with his little girl and the state of his overrun, untended vines. That he lived into his 90’s could be considered a miracle, a rich stroke of good fortune for the wine community. Also as a footnote whilst a POW he remarkably blackmailed a guard to allow a shipment of wine from home to be admitted into the camp…but that’s another story!
The wines of Domaine D’Orfeuilles are delicious – perfect reflections of the noble Chenin Blanc grape in its various guises.