Château Tour Grise - Saumur-Le Puy Notre Dame

Pioneer vignerons and their iconic domaines have often elevated the statures of lesser known appellations with which they are then invariably linked. Philippe Gourdon, Château Tour Grise in Saumur-Le Puy Notre Dame is one such name. Before bio was cool, Philippe was animated by his like-minded, local, organic/biodynamic iconoclast peers of the 1990s, in trying to find meaningful and sustainable solutions to vineyard maladies and mysteries. Tour Grise obtained biodynamic certification in 1998.

Philippe GourdonOwing to a fundamentally different approach of vineyard management and winemaking, Château Tour Grise was founded when Philippe decided to break with his brother at the family domaine, Beauregard, in 1990. Originally created with 20 hectares, that number has since dwindled to 8 as Philippe and partner Françoise have chosen to rent out more than a half of their original surface in order to devote more attention to the most interesting parcels. A staunch believer in promoting the greatest measure of biodiversity in the vineyard as a control against undesired pests, Philippe does not plow during the vegetative cycle, unlike most who consider plowing an indispensible alternative to chemical weed killing. Aside from a superficial cleaning around the foot of each vine, all variety of plants are left to flourish between the rows. Écimage and Rognage or trimming the tops and sides of vines during the growing season, a common practice elsewhere to promote aeration, is not a practice one finds in his vineyards, as Gourdon believes in preserving the integrity of the vine in its quest for equilibrium within the vineyard ecosystem. In the cellar, he takes an equally hands-off approach, leaving the wines to unfold according to their will rather than to any pre-conceived notion of the cellar master.

Président du syndicat de vigneron, Philippe was at the fore in promoting his village of Le Puy Notre Dame in its quest to obtain appellation status which was obtained in 2007. Contributing to the singular qualities of this terroir, is the shelter it enjoys from Le massif des Mauges 40km to the west, keeping the vineyards notably drier than further west and approaching the Atlantic. Its location at the top of a butte rising to 100m, also affords the surrounding vineyards a unique protection from springtime frosts which can predictably and adversely affect vineyards at lower elevations.

Ironically, the appellation structure which Philippe worked to install, is the same that now frequently labels his wines “atypic” for the appellation thus denying him AOC status and the village name on his labels. Such is the current state of AOC regulations which are increasingly driving passionate winemakers and defenders of authentic and natural wines outside of the A.O.C system in their pursuit of wines which accurately reflect their unique sense of place and tradition.

Château Tour Grise fact sheet

Regions

France

Beaujolais
Burgundy
Champagne
Montagne de Reims Emmanuel Brochet Côte des Bars Domaine Marie Courtin Valleé de la Marne Flavien Nowack
Southwest
Côtes du Marmandais Élian Da Ros
Jura
Languedoc
Terrasses du Larzac Domaine du Pas de L’Escalette Saint Chinian Domaine Rimbert
Loire
Provence
Rhône
Château Tour Grise

Saumur Brut, Non Dosé, 2004100% Chenin Blanc coming from a blend of the two principal soil types of Les Fontenelles and Les Amandiers

Les Fontenelles100% Chenin Blanc coming from flint and hard limestone based soil. Vinified and aged uniquely in œufs en béton (concrete, oval shaped tanks) for 11 months.

Les Amandiers100% Chenin Blanc coming from chalk and tuffeau (soft yellow limestone) based soil which are dominant in the region.

Chenin NoirRose and jasmine florals, black pepper and earth. Nicely textured and aromatic…