Domaine Nebout, Loire, France
‘St-Pourçain is aesthetically a kind of lost Burgundian appellation,
cast adrift on the crystalline mineral sea of Central France ’.
- Andrew Jefford, The New France
The Nebout story bears the familiar leitmotif of the artisan vineyards we love to champion. In the footsteps and vine rows of his father Serge and his grandfather Guy before him, Julien Nebout represents the third generation of rightfully proud wine growers in the ancient region of Saint Pourçain [? ? Sahn Poohr-SAHN] –some 75 miles south of Sancerre in the bull’s eye of central France. Here they grow according to the environmentally sensitive methods of lutte raisonée and bring into this world invigorating and appetizing wines unique to this corner of France.
Along the northeasterly Sioule [a tributary that feeds the river Allier that in turn feeds the Loire] this riparian vine land is one of storybook scenery and a long tradition of stunning wines –so long in fact that vintners here make the cogent claim of being France’s oldest vine growing region as the Romans were tending vines bound for winemaking 50 years before the birth of Christ. Saint Pourçain has graced the tables of history’s countless dukes, kings and popes and was a favorite of the Sun King Louis the XIV for being so light and easy. Saint Pourçain has even served as currency between nobles when settling their debts; this is especially fitting as their reds are an admixture of the noble varieties of Pinot Noir and Gamay –not unlike the finest examples of the Passetoutgrains of Burgundy.
Folklore and all historic acclaim aside, Saint Pourçain is proving a real eye opener for those of us who search for complex wines without too much brawn or extracted heft –fitting for a region named after the actual Saint Pourçain who worked such miracles as restoring eyesight and pacifying the warring tribes in the middle of the first millennium –and this doesn’t even begin to touch upon the salubrious merits of the Saint Pourçain wines themselves but one should perhaps discover these for themselves first hand.
‘Pour boire de ce Saint-Pourçain
Qui me fait souvent le cuer sain!’
[Oh, to drink the wines of Saint Pourçain
Which keep my heart happy and hale!]
- Jean Bruyant, 1332