Location: Loire Valley, France
Founded in 2012 by François Saint-Lô
From curator Siôn Iorwerth:
"We visited François Saint-Lô at the Rue Des Belles Caves at the beginning of 2020. François and his like-minded affiliates have slowly roused the sleeping village of Berrie, situated in the southern part of the Loire Valley, just south of Saumur. What they’ve managed to create can only be described as a utopian co-operative, consisting of winemakers, artists, carpenters, and the like. We were invited to join them for dinner that evening since they were cooking a whole lamb in a pit, and everyone was sharing the wine they had made around an open fire. A lasting memory was the group of Czech winemakers dancing around the pit wielding a leg of lamb. This was our final trip to Europe before the world went into lockdown.
François Saint-Lô in his troglodyte cellar.
On arriving at the large wooden doors leading into the massive Sagrada Familia-esque cave dug deep into the limestone rockface, we were handed a glass of fizzy pink pet nat to begin proceedings. We’re very pleased to have a good allocation of François’s petillant natural - a wine that rarely makes it out of the village. It’s a blend of Gamay and Grolleau, left on lees for over a year before disgorgement.
With our thirsts quenched and jackets zipped up we descended into the caves. A long afternoon of tasting ensued, alongside Joel of Wright’s Wines - François’s UK importer. We tasted through barrels of ethereal expressions of Cabernet Franc and textured Chenins from various vintages that had benefited from a long and undisturbed élevage, deep in the cool limestone caves. There is a sense of peace in the caves. The wines are given time to find themselves and are not rushed to market. In our inaugural shipment of wines, we have bottlings from the 2014 vintage up until the current releases from 2018. Given time, these wines have become complete.
Much like his mentor, Olivier Cousin, François works the vineyards with a horse and plough, and everything is done by hand. The vines are currently rented and quite a drive away, but François farms them all himself. There are plans afoot to plant vines closer to the winery, so hopefully, there is a long future ahead for François and the village of Berrie, as they gradually restore the once vacant houses along the Rue des Belles Caves. "
All labels are illustrated by Justine Saint-Lô.