The Côteaux du Giennois is a small appellation just north of Pouilly Fumé on the way to Auxerre. While the appellation produces tiny quantities of wine, it stretches 50 kilometrers in length with small parcels spread over 200 hectares of clay-limestone and silex dominant terrain. In the Giennois, Sauvignon Blanc reigns supreme and shares some of the the clean, flinty, mineral characteristics of nearby Pouilly Fumé.
In the micro-hamlet of Villargeau sits a stone farm house and two cattle barns built circa 1730 as well as the fine estate of Domaine de Villargeau which was founded in 1991 by brothers Jean-Fernand and Francois Thibault. The family has a long history as cattle farmers and grain growers, with special emphasis on cereals and corn, specifically for the production of corn-based biodegradeable materials for use in place of plastics. With a passion for wine and polycultural farming, they added vinegrowing to their roster of metiers. The new winery, adjecent to a nearly 300 year old stone barn, is fully insulated and powered by solar panels -- a clear nod to the family's desire to merge the old and new.
Today, second generation vigneron Marc Thibault manages 23 hectares of south/southweat-facing vineyards, with more plantings to come. The domaine is committed to natural farming methods and is a proud member of Terra Vitis, a group who eschews the use of chemical agents in favor of biological methods. In particular, no pesticides are used and grass grows between the rows. Villargeau vinifies all parcels separately in stainless steel tanks and, in general, uses only wild yeast fermentations. The resulting wines are aromatic, vibrant and succulent. Domaine de Villargeau has emerged as the quality leader in the Côteaux du Giennois and is the perfect destination for those in search of mineral, bright expressions of Sauvignon Blanc but without paying the prices demanded by neighboring appellations. less