Cedric is one of the first winemakers we started working with, visiting him on our very first trip to the Loire. I remember being greeted by his friendly dog and tasting his wines in his kitchen on a bleary eyed morning. Cedric's quiet manner and engaging wines, alive with fruit were very easy to get on with - whether you were into natural wine or had never heard of the term. This was important to us early on as we were importing mainly to sell the wines at Wright's in Llanarthne South Wales. We found his wines to be very popular with our wholesale customers and they have built a devoted following over the last few years.
Over the years, Cedric's wine making has seemed to get more and more precise, he is well established in the vibrant Anjou wine scene and now helps to organise the excellent February trade fair Les Anonymes which we imagine will return next year. We caught up with him to see how he got into wine and what the future holds for his estate.
How did you start working in wine?
My father and my grandfather were already working in the wine industry in Anjou. I grew up among the vines! I started at the age of 17 in a work-study program: school (6 years of wine studies) and many internships in different wine estates, 21 years working in the vineyards and 11 years on my own.
What inspired you to work the way you do?
I started working in different conventional fields at the beginning and towards organic farming. Then when I started my own project in 2010, I started organic farming and vinification without inputs (apart from a little sulfur before settling). In 2014, I chose to vinify without sulfites because I had good control over my vinifications.
When I started drinking wines without sulfites in the years 2012/2013 I told myself that this was really wine, no drying aftertaste and plenty of fruit! Just a wine of pleasure. Today I just want to make wine that is easy to drink and on the fruit, unpretentious.
Have you learned from other winemakers in the region?
Yes, a lot of discussion with the winegrowers of Anjou, a lot of different ways of vinifying and I think that my wines have evolved thanks to these always very friendly meetings.
Why did you decide to stop adding sulfites altogether?
Because sulfites erase the qualities of the grape, it is a product that stabilizes and protects the wine, but all the aromas are lost. A good balance between alcohol, acidity and tannins is enough to preserve the wine. The key is to find the right balance. I work without safety nets and though there are sometimes problems, it's worth the effort.
Can you tell us about your approach to working your vineyards?
I have 3.5 hectares of vines labeled in organic agriculture, on soils with a majority of schistes, 4 plots in the municipalities of Beaulieu sur Layon and St Lambert du Lattay. Most of the work in the vines is done by hand, so a lot of time is spent in the vines, I have a part-time employee to help me, plus a harvest team of around 8 people. As little tractor use as possible, except for soil work on certain plots, mechanical weeding under the cavaillon (mound of soil near the vine). Vegetable cover on some plot to keep cool in summer. I use a quad for the rest of the time, less heavy than the tractor for treatments, harvests ... I don't add anything to the soil to allow the roots to dig deep.
Can you tell us about future plans - I believe you have made new plantings recently?
Recent 0.20 ares plantation of Pineau d'Aunis, first harvest 2021. .For the first 3 harvests of Pineau d'Aunis, blend with Grolleau, for Somnambulles Rosé. Then make a red but the vine needs a little age beforehand for a good structure.
Plantation 2022: 50 ares of chenin in mass selection on the slopes of the “Soucherie” with plantations of fruit tree. This will go into my “Lunatic”.
You help to organise Les Anonymes, which was cancelled for obvious reasons this year, what is the plan for it and how is life in lockdown?
For this year we decide to cancel Les Anonymes. We will have a meeting soon with the two other persons who organise the fair. Maybe we find a way to do a tasting this year? In June? Outside? That depends on the virus!
Covid Lockdown: for myself nothing changes really, I work outside! It's just more complicated to sell wine but I have found a few new customers so I m ok for the moment😉. I just hope the restaurant and bar re-open quick because will be very complicated for them...
Hope we can meet this year!
Me too, thanks to Cedric - you can find his wines here