Profile: Château La Romancière (St.Amour)


Tasted in St.Amour with Claire Midey, 14 July 2017.

Château La Romancière
Plâtre Durand
71570 Saint Amour Bellevue
+33 3 85 37 47 42

Claire is here at this wonderful old ‘characterful’ château, since 1994. The domaine exploiting 5.5 hectares of vines in Juliénas, Chénas and a little over 2 hectares here in St.Amour. This was a Priory originally, not a wine-making house. A count (the Comte Balmandière) owned the house after the monks, this together with vines and three houses were part of the his estate. After the 2nd world war this was more of a weekend house for Claire’s family – the grandparents did some work on the house around 1947. Like Claire, her mother an architect and this was their holiday home from home – the winemaking part having long-since been abandoned.

In the vines Claire explains that she works in the most ecological way possible “It’s almost 29 years since an insecticide was used, we work with training, with herbs between the vines and no tractor when it can be avoided. I work alone, just sometimes with my daughter. I was an architect, and of-course it’s hard work, but it is, in a way, a more relaxing life. Simple and serene!

In the cuverie there’s no ‘thermo-vinification’ only if there’s a little rot – as medicine. A little prefermentation maceration. I really only need help for the harvesting; triage is done at the vine and also on reception when needed. I do a little destemming when there is a direct need, otherwise its whole cluster. As you can see, I like to make everything as simple and intact as possible. My Chénas sees some barrel elevage, but 6-15 year-old barrels – it’s a more burgundian cuvée. The rest are done in tank: St.Amour and Juliénas – I try to do nothing – its nature that does it…” The Chénas sees two years on the cuverie, otherwise bottlings are before next harvest – whites and rosés in the Spring.

Everything is sold direct by the domaine – mainly at salons – to add to the ‘crus’ there are two whites and rosé too – Claire even sells grape juice. There are no exports, at least for the moment. Claire’s biggest markets are Paris and north and north-eastern France.

There are two St.Amours here; one near the cemetery on granite ‘that is more powerful’ and several parcels that produce a more floral style of wine. This year Claire lost close to 60% in Chénas to the hail…

The wines…

A small but perfectly formed domaine here – just like the wines!

Lots of grapes in 16 so we had to look for concentration the opposite of 15. A couple of 2016s:

2016 St.Amour
Not the vieilles-vignes – ‘a fruity summer wine’
A quite open, nose. There’s still a little structure here, but this is really about melting, pretty flavour. An easy wine but also a delicious wine. There’s a little rasp of finishing tannin – ‘It needed a lot of triage as there was some blocking of maturity…

2016 Juliénas Vieilles-Vignes
Hit by the 13 July hail, so needed some triage.
More depth of aroma, tighter above, slowly there is a nice violet floral. Larger scaled in the mouth, fresh, with good intensity, a little rasp of finishing tannin. A good finishing wave of flavour – really tasty – I find this lovely.

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