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Thomas Batardière

Thomas Batardière

VigneronThomas Batardière
LocationRablay-sur-Layon (Maine-et-Loire)
Size of Domaine3.3 ha
TerroirContinental climate with Atlantic influence. Sandy decomposed schist on schist bedrock, altered volcanic rocks. Gentle slopes, 50-100m altitude.
ViticultureBiodynamic (Certified Demeter)
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Born in 1980 in Angers, Thomas Batardière got bitten by the wine bug in 2008 following a degree in anthropology and a job as a cinematographer.

Thomas is a doer, he does not stand still, voluble and passionate he worked as a sommelier at first, and then feeling the need of getting closer to wine, he joined Château Yvonne in Saumur, quickly becoming Mathieu Vallée’s right-hand man (whilst studying agriculture in Beaune!).

Transferring from white to black Anjou (limestone to schist), he finally struck out on his own in Rablay-sur-Layon in 2012, buying a couple of hectares of his beloved chenin but without any equipment or cellar. He built the latter as well as his house right next door to Richard Leroy who he has befriended, the two exchange a lot, so much so that there are talks about buying and operating a brand-new press together.

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Vines in Rablay-sur-Layon
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Applying biodynamic principles from the get-go, Thomas went on planting as well as buying to reach 4ha (currently 3.3ha in production), just enough he believes to be independent and express himself. Most of his vines are south of the Layon river, in Rablay, on sandy and stony soils with clay over schist – chenin and cabernet franc (Clos des Noëls planted in 1932) are grown here as well as grolleau, a grape well-suited to the area. His best parcelles of chenin, including the Clos des Cocus planted in 1968, are up the stunning coteau of Faye d’Anjou (north of the Layon) clinging into the schist bedrock.

Thomas has a very individual take on chenin, he loves its finesse, acidity and ability to reflect terroirs, picking it early (ideally with 12.5% alcohol potential and yields at 30 to 40hh), and fermenting as well as ageing in small cuves inox to preserve purity. He aims at making zero-sulphur wines, rarely racking and working reductively on the lees – a tricky exercise and a theme often debated with Richard.

"I am pragmatic, not dogmatic, so if I have to add sulphur to save my wine I will,” says Thomas, a confident and brilliant vigneron for whom we predict a great future.

01_Vine_Trail_Thomas_Batardiere_16_9 Entering the Clos des Noëls

Thomas Batardière Wines

Thomas Batardière

L’ESPRIT LIBRE 2018
Vin de France
100% Chenin (12.5% alc.)

Most of the 30 to 90yo vines are in the lieu-dit L’Éspérance near Rablay-sur-Layon, next to the Domaine des Sablonettes (Jérémy Ménard and Thomas are mates regularly helping each other) on a gravelly plateau of red sand, quartz and clay. Thomas prefers stainless steel to accentuate chenin’s natural tension, a judicious choice in the recent hot vintages. This wine ages on fine lees without sulphur until bottling in the summer. It is fruit-forward but still bright and crisp with a strong saline stamp.

Thomas Batardière

MAMA ROSE 2018
Vin de France
40% Grolleau, 40% Chenin Blanc, 20% Cabernet Franc (12% alc.)

Thomas wanted to make a light rosé with an interesting mouthfeel and so harvested the cabernet franc early to bring tension, and the grolleau late for the aromatics. Both were pressed after one day of maceration and blended with the chenin after fermentation. It’s quite pale and aromatically expressive with notes of red fruit and pepper from the grolleau, while the chenin brings weight and texture to the palate.

Thomas Batardière

CLOS DES NOËLS 2017
Vin de France
100% Cabernet Franc (13% alc.)

Clos des Noëls is a lieu-dit close to Rablay-sur-Layon where Thomas owns 0.15ha of vines planted in 1932. Unusually for the sector the soil is mostly metagraywackes, a variety of sandstone poor in quartz but rich in clay and feldspar, whose water retaining capacity is well suited to cabernet franc. Thomas wants to extract fine tannins from the stems rather than the skin and pips, so he vinifies whole bunches but doesn’t do any remontage or pigeage (just keeps the cap moist) during the five to six weeks long maceration. Both fermentation and ageing take place in stainless steel. It’s a vibrant expression of cabernet franc, the fruit is red and crisp, it’s light and floral with beautifully fine tannins and food friendly bitters, very digeste.

Thomas Batardière

OSCAR 2017
Vin de France
100% Chenin Blanc (11% alc, 270g/l of rs)

This comes from the oldest plot (also used in L’Esprit Libre), a 90yo massal selection developed specifically to produce sweet wines: bush vines with small bunches and tightly-packed berries to promote the onset of botrytis. Oscar is only made in years when botrytis settles early, preserving high levels of acidity, and this 2017 is a perfect example of the balance for which Thomas looks. It is incredibly lifted and digeste despite its 270g/l of residual sugar, and the old vines add complexity and depth. For drinking now to 2025.