Christian Tessier and his son Fabien, wine growers in Cour-Cheverny (between Chambord and Cheverny).
The Tessier family’s ancestors, as was often the case in France, had a variety of farming activities. In addition to vines, they grew cereals and asparagus and reared cattle. But when Christian took over Domaine de la Désoucherie, he decided to devote himself entirely to wine growing. The present-day estate boasts approximately 30 hectares under vine producing three appellations: Cheverny (white, red or rosé), Crémant de Loire (white or rosé), and the much lesser-known Cour-Cheverny.
The astonishing Romorantin grape variety
It is believed that Francis 1st introduced this white grape variety to the region. His mother’s residence was, after all, just 40 km from Cour-Cheverny, in Romorantin, and the king of France liked to plant vines around his chateaux. Genetic analysis of the cultivar shows that it is a cross of Pinot teinturier noir and Gouais blanc, suggesting the vines came from Burgundy. Nowadays, however, although the Cour-Cheverny appellation is entirely made from Romorantin grapes, it is the only place in the world where the variety is grown, and even here, quantities are diminutive.
With just 6 ha of Cour-Cheverny, Christian and Fabien account for nearly 10% of the appellation’s total production!
The estate’s Cour-Cheverny
They believe yields must be restricted to around 40-50 hl/ha, well below the legal limit, to control acidity. The clay-silica soils are poor and shallow in Cour-Cheverny. The climate is more continental – dry and cool – than in the Touraine appellations, but this is counterbalanced by the influence of many wooded hills. Father and son remove leaves from their vines so that they stay healthy and also remove some bunches (green harvesting) to concentrate the remaining juice. The white wine is dry, except for some extremely hot years (2003, 2005...) when there can be some sugar.
Over the first two years of cellaring, the wine offers up aromas of citrus, yellow-fleshed fruits or white flowers, occasionally exuding some notes of rhubarb, spice and menthol. But after a few years, honey, lemon, beeswax or prune appear as well as some soft oxidation notes, a hallmark of the varietal. This is exactly how the wine growers recommend it be enjoyed, unlike wines made from Sauvignon. Try Cour-Cheverny wines with a patina developed over time.