Thibaud Boudignon is 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. The domaine is made up of 7 hectares of vines, 5 hectares in Savennières and 2 hectares in Anjou. Thibaud planted the majority of his vines. All vines are planted via selection massale at a density of 6,000 vines per hectare and are Guyot-Poussard trained. Boudignon employs over 30 workers during harvest to harvest as fast as possible, usually in 4 days or less. Harvest always occurs later than neighboring growers as Boudignon wants to ensure optimal ripeness of the grape before picking. When discussing his domaine’s slow growth, he explains, “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, all other decisions will be made based on yields and the fruit itself. This is the way for me to be more precise.”
At the domaine, vinification practices are simple but extremely artisanal. Once all the fruit is picked and kept at a consistent 3 degrees Celsius, the fruit is very gently crushed in a machine which acts like as a delicate champagne press.
After pressing and the juice moves to tank by gravity, the fermentation process begins using only native yeast. The juice is moved into large Inox tanks before élevage occurs in a combination of new and used barrels. Barrels include a combination of 600L foudre, 320L “cigars”, 500L barrels, and lightly toasted Austrian Stockingers. 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 in barrel lasts up to 12 months before the juice is moved back to Inox tank for an additional 6 months before bottling.