Visiting Vincent Grall in SancerreBy Marisa D'Vari | October 10th, 2012 | Category: Loire, News | No Comments »
As you will have read in the previous post, I had finished my scheduled meeting with Domaine Fouassier and was walking back to Coeur de France where I am studying French ... and I see other eleves (students) walking toward me.
They were on their way to visit Domaine Vincent Grall, who turns out to be a small producer here.
I join them as we walk to Grall, who between the pressing of the newly harvested grapes drives us in a giant white van to the vineyard.
It is gorgeous! Like something you would see in a postcard. Hard to believe a tiny family run winery like this has so much land.
Not expecting to be picking grapes, I am dressed in a typical Manhattan way (yes, the heels, the black, etc) and the vivacious Adelaide, wife of Mr. Grall, gives us all a warm welcome.
The other eleves are from all over the world, including the UK and Australia, and are given pails and begin to pick. My four inch heels are already sinking into the mud, where the more clever of the eleves has tied some plastic shopping bags to her tennis shoes with self-made plastic straps and is now happily picking.
Suddenly it begins to not rain, not pour, but some other thing ... a very wild weather condition that sends sheets of water into the vineyard.
Thunder rolls. Adelaide herds us all into the truck where we wait out the storm. It is pretty fascinating. The only other time I have seen anything like this was in a vineyard near St. Tropez. The day had been dazzling, then suddenly, hail!
Rain does not really destroy a crop as hail can, yet it is possible to dilute the grapes.
After the storm a gorgeous rainbow shines, and the weather turns so sunny and hot I can't believe I forgot sun protection.
In the fullness of time we are driven back to the vineyard, with Adelaide showing us around the winery. It is the smallest winery I have every seen in all of my wine life ... it is just a ten minute walk from the heart of Sancerre, yet a small space with a garage like area for the state-of-the-art pneumatic crusher, and an equally small garage like space for the "vat room."
Okay, it is possible I have been spending too much time in the giant, corporate owned vat rooms of top Chateaux in Bordeaux, yet this is also small by Burgundy standards and I have visited many producers there.
What's amazing is that Vincent Grall is able to produce such delicious wine with such a seemingly tiny, economically efficient winery.
Adelaide is both super friendly and very savvy about the wine process, from viticulture to how it is sold (she is also in charge of exports as she speaks excellent English).
As we taste through the wines ("the Tradition you are now drinking is where you picked the grapes," she tells us ....
... I find the wines extremely good which of course stems from the terroir and the care in the winery.
Adelaide says that the winery is 'sustainable" and like many others, tries to be as organic as possible. Yet they need to use some chemicals in years where there is a crisis, so can not be certified as organic.
Seeing the Grall family, it is easier to understand the pressures on a small, family-owned winery and the little economies that must be made in order to have a successful season.
On this trip to Sancerre, I visited many wineries, both large and small, and each had state-of-the-art equipment.
The wines of Grall are very good, which perhaps reflects on Mr. Grall's winemaking talent as much as the first class terroir.
Adelaide's charm has brought this small family winery into the world market ... Norway, Belgium, and other countries are buying lots of their wine, and they are now represented in the USA as well.