Located around 100km south of Nantes, the AOC Fiefs Vendéens is a discreet appellation where we find the soon-to-be star domain Saint-Nicolas. For over 35 years, Thierry Michon has been working on the soils here without adding anything artificial to his wines. He is always striving to better express the terroir to which he is so attached in Brem-sur-Mer.
The Fiefs Vendéens AOC
Let’s start by introducing the appellation, Fiefs Vendéens. Whilst this certainly isn’t the most well-known viticultural spot, the history of growing vines in the Vendée dates back to the Gallo-Roman period. It was really quite prosperous, too, before the phylloxera disease arrived. Some decades and several wars later, and the vines did eventually flourish here once more. This was how Patrice Michon, the father of Thierry Michon, came to plant several hectares in Brem-sur-Mer in 1960.
In 2011, after over 20 years of fighting for it, Fiefs Vendéens became an appellation in its own right. Shared between five, distinct areas (Vix, Chantonnay, Pissotte, Mareuil and Brem), the appellation extends across over 400 hectares worked on by around 20 wine makers. If the quality of the wines produced here has thus far remained largely unchanged, wine makers like Thierry Michon prove with each new vintage that the Fiefs vendéens is bursting with fine terroirs. It’s a question of knowing and understanding them.
In 1984, Thierry Michon and his brother, Eric, joined their father at the family domain in order to take it to the next level. This was the moment at which they purchased new vineyards in Sables d’Olonne and Brem-sur-Mer. From Pinot Noir to Gamay, and from Chenin to Chardonnay, they did not restrict themselves when choosing which grape varieties to plant.
If you ask Thierry how he succeeds in making such fine wines in a region that is, quite frankly, not known for such feats, he will give a clear and simple answer: biodynamics!
Having made his first attempts at this in 1993 and getting certification in 1995, this has been a long-term project. He sees biodynamic methods as a wonderful way of livening his soil by preserving a variety of microbial and plant life. And it’s safe to say that this works, since his wines can be found at the table in some of the finest restaurants.
As for the vinification, here again we find a wine maker working with and for his terroir. He has no desire to modify his wines in the cellar, which is why he leaves the fermentation process to indigenous yeasts. Maturation takes place in containers made of inert material in order to avoid any woody aromas transferring into the final product.
Despite the eclecticism of the grape varieties used, every cuvée is a great success! The whites have enchantingly mineral and saline notes whilst the reds each have their own strong character. Thierry’s two sons, Antoine and Mickaël, joined him a few years ago to propel forward what has quickly become a family tradition.