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Domaine Vrignaud

The Vrignaud family has worked its estate for five generations. The first vines were planted in 1955, and these still produce the premier cru Chablis Fourchaume Les Côtes De Fontenay to this day. It wasn’t until 1991 that Joëlle and Michel Vrignaud decided to bottle and sell a portion of their wine themselves, starting with just 3,500 bottles a year.

After studying oenology at university and after spending time working at other wineries both in France and abroad, Guillaume Vrignaud returned home in 1999 and gradually assumed responsibility for winemaking and oversaw the expansion of the estate’s production facilities. Under his auspices, the domain now bottles and sells over half of its entire production.

The 19 hectare Domaine Vrignaud is located in the village of Fontenay-Près-Chablis, in the middle of the Premier Cru Fourchaume vineyards. It is a typical Chablisien village, founded in 1130 by the Commanderie of the Templars, and its 12th century church is the oldest in area.

Most of Domaine Vrignaud’s vines are located in and around the commune of Fontenay-Près-Chablis, except for those in the premier cru Mont De Milieu vineyard, situated in the commune of Fleys. Vines are planted at a density of 5,600 per hectare, and they are trained using the double Guyot system. Each plot is worked individually, and in the flatter vineyards ryegrass and bluegrass are planted in between two of every nine rows of vines to reduce soil compaction, to facilitate the passage of the tractor and to reduce soil erosion. Every non-grassed row is ploughed to force the vines to push their roots ever deeper into the Kimmeridgean marl, supplying the characteristic minerality of Vrignaud’s Chablis.

In the more steeply sloping plots, around the middle of May winter cereals are planted between the rows of vines to fight against soil erosion, to assist in the recovery of the soil’s microbial life and to reduce the use of chemical weedkillers.

The Vrignauds are passionate about sustainable viticulture and the minimal use of chemicals in their vineyards. No fertilisers have been used for over 20 years and an annual soil analysis is performed to determine any possible deficiencies the vines may face. Their efforts to maximise the microbial life of the soil are focused upon returning life to the vineyards, enabling them to make the best possible wines, naturally. Recently, they have been experimenting with alternative farming methods, using only minerals and plant-based treatments. They have been certified organic since 2013.

Every parcel of vines is harvested and vinified separately to fully express the potential of each different plot of land. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. In 2008, the vat room was rearranged to allow for the installation of new presses at the winery. Constant refinement of their techniques has resulted in wines that are refined and long lived that can also be enjoyed in their youth. The wines from Domaine Vrignaud are expressive, elegant, refined and simply exude all the classic characteristics that have made Chablis so sought after over the years.
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