Grape growing at Château d’Epiré remains very traditional, Grapes have been harvested the same way for centuries.
Soil culture takes a great part in the quality of our wines. We give much importance to theses aspects. Respect for traditional, time-honoured practices has been the basis of Château d’Epiré winemaking philosophy for centuries – and ample proof of its sustainability! That’s the reason why we have been only using organic Fertiliser:
Pruning is essential. That is what the production quality and the longevity of the plots depends on. The goblet-shape pruning gives a good grapes distribution on the branches of the vine plant.
The soil is worked every two rows by a superficial scraping. The alternating of grassed rows with ploughed ones allows:
The tractor to process in all weathers thanks to grassed rows which support its weight when a treatment is needed.
To absorb the water excess thanks to the natural grass.
Harvesting remains traditional, manual with successive passes to select the best grapes. Usually it starts late in September depending on grapes analyses, we wait for the perfect ripeness.
The grapes are only picked when they have reached the exact desired degree of maturity. Due to the varying maturity time of the chenin grapes, the harvest spread over a month and three to four successive passes are necessary.
In case of good weather, when Botrytis cinerea develops, we produce a little volume of moëlleux (mellow) wine, distinguished by a wonderful balance between sugar, alcohol and acidity.
Grapes picked are directly pressed inside the cellar, an old Roman church where the wine making process takes place. The pneumatic winepress takes into account the texture and fragility of the fruit to obtain the clearest juice.
Christophe Onillon, Maître de Chai (person in charge of the cellar), keeps a close eye every day on the good progress of fermentation process.
Depending on vintages and characteristics of the year, malolactic fermentation (the fermentation by bacteria of the malic acid in the wine into lactic acid) is used to give complexity and roundness to the wine.
Then the ageing on lees (dead yeast and sediment of wine) provides body essential to the balance of the wine. During this period, there is always a significant loss of wine, both by evaporation and by absorption by the wood of the barrels, especially when they’re new. Topping up is conducted regularly to bring back the levels so as to avoid excessive oxidation created by the wine’s contact with the air.
The success of barrel ageing depends to a large degree on the quality of the racking. In fact, each racking is a true decanting process. Repeated racking allows the wine to acquire a special transparency. The principle consists of separating, with the greatest possible precision, the clear wine from the sediment deposited.
After clarifying, the wine is bottled in the end of June before summer warmth. Despite the heavy walls of the church, our region is more heat-sensitive than where regions the construction in limestone allows to have underground cellars.
We produce several wines: dry white wine, with or without filtration, medium dry wine, as soon as the alcoholic potential of the harvesting exceeds 14°, and a little quantity of red wine. Our white wines are 100% chenin, and red wines 100% cabernet franc.
Savennières wines have left many historic traces, Louis XI compared the Savennières wine to a drop of gold. In the XIXth century, it was related that Josephine de Beauharnais, Napoléon‘s wife, considered it a source of relief when he was away from her.
The pope Jean-Paul II drank Château d’Epiré with his meal when he came to Sainte Anne d’Auray in September, 1996.