Exploring the wines of Fiefs Vendeens and the iconic estate, Domaine St. Nicolas
Positioned at the far western edge of the Loire Valley, where the river meets the ocean, lies the beautiful yet somewhat obscure region of Fiefs Vendéens. The wines here are a refreshing blend of vibrancy and nuance in flavour, with a notable minerality, courtesy of the significant oceanic influence.
The Fiefs Vendéens wine region occupies a prime spot in the western Loire Valley, falling within the boundaries of the Vendée department in the picturesque Pays de la Loire region of France. Owing to its location, the region enjoys milder winters and cooler summers. This guarantees a longer growing season, during which grapes ripen slowly, with complexity in flavour increasing during this time. Predominantly composed of schist and granite, the soil here also reveals patches of limestone and clay.
As synonymous as the ocean is with the region, so is one winemaker, Thierry Michon of Domaine St. Nicolas. Truly an iconic figure, setting a benchmark here for quality wines. Where the vineyard is less close to the ocean, and more in intimate dialogue with it.
Since the 1990s, Thierry Michon has been a forerunner in adopting organic and biodynamic farming practices. This wasn't simply a strategic shift; it was deeply rooted in Michon's profound respect for the land and its ecosystem. Through his approach, which emphasises synergy with nature, he has nurtured a vineyard where every aspect, from soil to local fauna, plays a role in crafting wines that truly represent the terroir.
This journey began in 1970 when Thierry's father procured a vineyard at Ile d’Olonne. Spanning 37 hectares, managing the whole estate biodynamically is no minor feat! He even goes the extra mile, purchasing buffer zones around his property to shield his parcels from chemical intrusion from nearby vineyards.
The vineyard produces a stunning range of wines, including complex, saline whites and lush, fruity reds, along with an equally sought-after rosé. Each wine carries a distinct identity, yet all feature a notable, irresistible saline character.