Loire

Philippe Valette

Philippe ValettePhilippe has 8.5 hectares all planted with Chardonnay and is the third generation of his family to work in Chaintré, a small village in the south of Burgundy located on the border of Beaujolais. His grandfather came to Chaintré by foot from neighboring Bresse, penniless, looking for work in the vineyards, which he found; he learned to tend the vines, became a tenant, and raised a family. Philippe’s father was the first farmer in the region to stop selling grapes to the co-op and start estate-bottling his own wines.

After finishing wine school in 1990 Philippe decided to convert the vineyards to organic, which went against everything he’d learned at school, and made for a few difficult years of trial and error. However, with a lot of work in his vineyards, but without any chemical treatments, he gradually saw major improvements. Most importantly, perhaps, a diverse microbial life developed that he feels maximizes the expression of terroir. To promote this, he aerates the soil by tilling or grassing, depending on the geographical and geological configuration of the plot. In this way, he obtains well-balanced grapes that he leaves on the plant until they are perfectly ripe.

Philippe ages his wines in old barrels (with the exception of his Macon-Villages, which he ages in a combination of steel tanks and barrels) until he feels they’re ready. One of the other things that distinguishes his whites is that he ages them on their fine lees, usually for two years. He’s generally acknowledged as one of the godfathers of natural winemaking.