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Pierre Gauthier/Domaine du Bel Air


FranceLoire Valley


Natural farming

Years ago, while searching for a producer in the Bourgueil area of the Loire Valley’s Touraine, Didier Dagueneau was the first to recommend Pierre Gauthier to us. Upon shaking Pierre’s hand for the first time, there was no mistaking that this man is close to the earth. Since 1979, this master of Cabernet Franc has farmed 18 hectares in the village of Benais—the heart of the Bourgueil AOC. With the help of his wife, Catherine, until her untimely death in 2016, and their son, Rodolphe, who joined the domaine in 2005, Pierre does all of the vineyard work by hand and has been certified organic since 2000. They plow the soil, maintain a cover crop between vineyard rows, use bud-pruning and green harvests to limit their yields to under 40 hl/ha, and thin the canopy three weeks before harvesting. This level of attention to detail is part of the secret to their success.

The Gauthiers treat the cellar with the same immaculate care. In fact, these cellars, containing mostly double barrels, are carved directly out of one of his vineyards in Benais, thus providing natural temperature control. They de-stem 100% of their grapes and employ native yeasts for long cuvaisons of up to 3 weeks. Their Bourgueil “Clos Nouveau” is a relatively recent addition to their lineup—a historic parcel of land, the oldest in Benais, that was once owned by lords of Bellay. Since 2005, they have worked tirelessly to promote the biodiversity in this silica and clay terroir. It is their pride and joy.

Follow this link to view photos of Pierre and Rodolphe Gauthier’s amazing transformation of the Clos Nouveau: