Billes de Roche
Aymeric Hillaire and Mélanie Cunin originally met while studying enology in Montpellier, and then traveled the world together, making wine in both hemispheres, and racking up some impressive work experience along the way with people like Château Pradeaux in Bandol, Château Guiraud in Sauternes, and, most notably, Bernard Baudry in Chinon. Inspired by Baudry, in 2006 the two would return to Aymeric’s hometown within the new appellation of Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame, and slowly built up their vineyard holdings to the 4ha they have today, naming their new winery Mélaric (a combination of their two names). They purchased two notable lieux-dits, “Billes de Roche” and “Clos de la Cerisae”, and immediately converted everything to organics, and followed up with the introduction of biodynamics. The vineyards are planted on shallow clay soils with a base of pure limestone chalk beneath, which was the basis for awarding this area it’s own AOP. Vines are very old (average age is 45-50 years old), and are mostly Chenin Blanc (2.7ha), with the rest being Cabernet Franc (1.3ha), plus a touch of Grolleau. Their philosophy is to work meticulously in the vineyard, carrying out much of the work by hand with the help of a horse. Harvesting is also by hand, and Aymeric favors minimal interventions in winemaking, with no additions of enzymes or cultured yeasts. The wines are raised in old (4-8 years), 400L barrels, and get just a small dose of SO2 at bottling. These are wines of purity and elegance, with a fresh structure imparted by the limestone soils. Although the appellation may be new, Aymeric and Mélanie are already showing that the terroir of Puy-Notre-Dame has something special to say.