Thibaud Boudignon is without question one of the most exciting young vignerons in the Loire Valley. He is humble but intense and his passion for his profession is felt within minutes of speaking with him. Upon first meeting Thibaud, we entered his brand new “cave”. You could see the excitement on his face as he explained his new technology which he built inspired by his dear friend Antoine Foucault of Domaine du Collier. “I created this system,” Thibaud tells us. “No literally, this has not been done before. I put everything into this. The temperature will always be at 12 degrees Celsius during fermentation. This is a air filtration system. I can control the humidity, the airflow, and I can make sure the winemaking environment is perfect. We are not in Saumur; underground like Antoine is. I visit him and I want to be underground, but we are in Anjou. The soil is schist. You can not dig into schist. We had to bring the Cave above ground.”
Thibaud has just over 2 hectares of vines in Anjou, most of which lie right behind his new facility, as well as, approximately one hectare of vines in Savennières. He has planted more vines and will slowly be growing production over the coming years. He explained to us, “I want to grow production and I will grow, but right now farming is everything to me. Vinification is everything to me. I can’t be everywhere at once. Right now I can harvest all my fruit before beginning any fermentation process. With my facility, the fruit is harvested and kept at 3 degrees celsius with no alteration in temperature. Once harvest is complete, cuvée discisions will be made based on yields and the fruit itself. This is the way for me to be more precise.”
Thibaud is a type of mad scientist intertwined with a elegant artist. Vinification practices are simple but extremely artisanal. Once all his fruit has been picked and kept at a consistent 3 degrees Celsius, the fruit is crushed using old champagne methods in a machine which acts like as a delicate champagne press. Thibaud explained to us, “I never use whole cluster, I never agitate the skins. Have you ever tasted a chenin blanc grape? The skins are thick, I don’t want the skins taking over my wines. We press the fruit like each one is between my finger and my thumb. We press slowly, delicately; with grace.”
Once all the juice is pressed, the fermentation process begins using only indigenous yeast. The juice is moved into large stainless steel vats before élevage occurs in a combination of new and used barrique. Malolactic fermentation never occurs and the decisions on oak usage are based on the harvest and sometimes even during the pick. “I can call my guys during harvest and let them know I need the barrels with more toast right during harvest and they will have them to me as soon as I need them,” Thibaud tells us when talking about his new Stockinger barrels. Élevage will last up to 12 months in a combination of new and used French oak and Austrian Stockinger barrels. Each cuvée will see a variety of different types of new and used oak.