Les Vins de la Madone

Location: Champdieu, Côtes du Forez, Loire
Founded: 1997
Size: 11 hectares
Varieties: Gamay Saint Romain, Gamay Noir, Gamay de Bouze, Gamay de Chaudenay, Gamaret, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris
Viticulture: Biodynamic (certified since 2009)
Vinification: 0 to 100% whole cluster, indigenous yeast fermentation in stainless steel with no added sulfur, aged in stainless steel for 3 to 12 months.

There is a fairly new association in the Loire Valley foothills of the Massif Central known as the “Loire Volcanique”, which encompasses four lesser known appellations – Côtes d’Auvergne, Côte Roannaise, Saint-Pourçain, and Côte du Forez (the least known of the lesser-knowns). Gilles Bonnefoy established Les Vins de la Madone here near the village of Champdieu, a place that reminds one of Tolkein’s Shire due to the small soft hills dotting the landscape in which you could imagine a hobbit making a home (but which are actually extinct and rather petite volcanoes).
Gilles grew up here, but he began his estate from scratch, renting a few plots of old vines in the late 1990s. His holdings have now grown to more than 11 hectares, all certified biodynamic by Demeter. Some of his vineyards are planted on the side of the more substantial (but still extinct) volcano de la Madone. Standing at the top of one of these with the statue of the Lady Madone (Madonna) towering high behind you, the vines stretch out below and very steeply indeed.
The red varieties – Gamay Noir a Jus Blanc, Gamay de Bouze, Gamay de Chaudenay and Gamaret – are planted here in granite soils that contain migmatite along with clay, basalt, and mica. For white wines, Gilles grows Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, and Roussanne.  Harvesting is done by hand. Fermentation takes place with native yeasts and no sulfur additions. Aging is almost all in stainless steel. Small amounts of sulfur may be added at bottling.