Clos Roche Blanche

Touraine, a Loire Valley appellation, designates a rather large viticultural area around the city of Tours. The vineyards of Clos Roche Blanche, planted on the Touraine hills bordering the Cher river by the Roussel family at the end of the 19th century, have remained in the family since. Catherine Roussel took over this 28 hectare estate in 1975, and was later joined by Didier Barouillet, who tends the vineyards and makes the wines. Both are enthusiastic proponents of non-interventionist winemaking.

The soil is poor, mainly clay with flint over a limestone subsoil. The varietals grown are Gamay, Cot (or Auxerrois, the grape of Cahors) and Sauvignon Blanc. Roussel and Barouillet keep yields low by maintaining old vines, using organic fertilizers in moderation and growing grass between and plowing under the rows.

They converted the vineyards to organic farming over the past three years and the 1995 vintage bears the official "organic agriculture" accreditation. The vines are treated with copper and sulfur solutions, and plant decoctions (a mix of nettles and other herbs) used in bio-dynamic viticulture.

Neither Catherine nor Dider has studied oenology or viticulture. They both learned their trade in the vineyards and the cellar, searching for methods and techniques to make wines of exceptional character in an appellation of modest reputation.

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