Moderator : Myriam Laidet
3. Claude Mettavant - Viticultural closeries of the Loire Valley: the example of field houses in the Rochecorbon
The term "closerie" is nowadays mainly known as the old denomination of small wineries, the name indicating that the whole was probably enclosed by walls or hedges. If this definition is close to the historical origin, it needs to be more precisely defined.
In the Middle Ages, the term appears to designate a farm so small that its entirety can be easily enclosed by live hedges. Its finances do not allow to build stone walls.
In the Renaissance a vast social movement emerges throughout Europe: the bourgeois population wishes to move away from the noise, pollution or hectic city-life and settles in the countryside seeking to retrieve a meaning to life and some roots. But the houses they are going to build are not country houses, but "houses in the fields", where the owners relearn agriculture and breeding, supervise the activity and control the work of the farmer and staff.
Their farm is divided into three parts on the model of ancient Roman villae: pars urbana is the dwelling house, pars rustica which is the agricultural part providing food to the family is called closerie (or closeau, clouserie, borderie), and finally the pars fructuaria which is the agricultural part intended for the sale is called the farm (or borde). In order to distinguish the lands of the closeries from larger farms, they are surrounded by hedges, or walls in the case of more wealthy owners.
The closerie provides vegetables, cereals, fruits, meat and milk. However another role trademarks her forever: she must also provide the wine. A plot of vineyard is planted. Due to the sheer number of these houses in the fields, they contribute towards the restructuring of the rural landscape. Their owners, of often low nobility, give a name to their domain. The vine extends over all land lending itself to its culture.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the bourgeoisie abandoned their homes in the fields, receiving only income. The closeries focused on wine production, the vineyards grew. In the nineteenth century the domains are dismembered, the viticultural closeries are bought by winemakers.
The presentation will present some examples in the town of Rochecorbon, a rural town next to Tours: flat land properties of the châteaux of Montgouverne, Rosnay and Sens, the hillside properties of Grand-Vaudasnière, La Haute-Bourdaisière and the châteaux of Vaufoynard.
4. André Morgenthal - Old Vine Chenin Blanc: Preserving heritage and creating future value
In all the winelands of the world, old vines get proudly mentioned on labels, in many languages. Such is the value everywhere accorded to old vineyards and the wines they produce. But only in one country, South Africa, is it possible for that claim to be certified by a regulatory authority. The Old Vine Project (OVP) was formalised in 2016 with seed funding from the Rupert Foundation, although the effort to document South Africa’s old vines was embarked on much earlier along with vineyard manager Rosa Kruger. André Morgenthal joined Kruger in 2016 to develop this heritage project into a viable, self-sustained model.
Members of the Old Vine Project (OVP) can apply for a Certified Heritage Vineyards seal on bottles of wine made from vineyards of 35 years or older, together with the planting date. In a time where consumers are constantly seeking more knowledge and transparency about products, this guarantees authentic wines made according to the OVP viticultural and winemaking guidelines.
Chenin Blanc forms a crucial part of the old vine story and represents more than half of all vineyards of 35 years or older in South Africa. The cross regional representation of old vine Chenin Blanc gives consumers the opportunity to experience its different expressions. Not only are the vineyards a great source of scientific knowledge, but they hold stories of our viticultural heritage and potential to create future value.
One of these stories is about a Chenin Blanc, planted in 1982 on Joostenberg Wine farm, that was always sent to the local co-operative to be used in white blends. It was a gnarly looking vineyard and the owners contemplated its removal. However, once the vineyard moved into its 30’s, they gradually recognised the potential quality. The vineyard is now lovingly cared for and produces a wine with the name derived from the Afrikaans saying “die agteros kom ook in die kraal” (the hind ox also gets there), which means with time you also arrive. With a renewed focus on the quality that old vines in South Africa offers, it has the potential to raise the price of grapes and benefit farmers. The name of the wine, Die Agteros, also reflects the history of Chenin in South Africa, our politics and our resilience as a nation.
This is only one of the many stories of old vine Chenin Blanc from South Africa. The Certified Heritage Vineyard seal provides a platform for these feel-good stories of vineyards and heritage to be complemented by tangible initiatives to add value to the old vine custodians and the greater South African Wine industry.