Loïc Cailbourdin, Domaine Alain Cailbourdin

Loïc CailbourdinAt 27 Loïc is one of the oldest of the 'new generation' of growers that News editor Joanna Goodman interviews at our July tastings. He has already had considerable experience at his family domaine in Pouilly-Fumé with some of his initiatives already bearing fruit.

2010 was the first vintage for Loïc at his family's domaine, created by his father Alain in 1980. Loïc tells me that originally his father made wine for other people but was able to buy one plot of vines and over the years has added to this little by little, so that they now have 20 hectares.

Like Charlotte Denis of Domaine de la Renaudie, Loïc is one of three children. Similarly he is the only one of his siblings to be interested in working in the family business, something that he tells me he has always wanted to do and from the age of 14 was sure about.

Loïc has had a fairly typical wine education, studying oenology and viticulture in Mâcon, Burgundy, then gaining broader experience by working for Château de Sancerre and at a property in Bourgueil. After graduating he worked for Château de Tracy, one of the most famous producers in Pouilly-Fumé, for nine months. One year was spent studying business at the wine school in Bordeaux with English lessons every day.

I wondered whether he'd had the opportunity to put any of the ideas gained from his experiences into practice at his own domaine yet. 'I haven't really changed much in the winery,' he tells me, 'but I have introduced a lot of changes in the vineyard already, particularly when it comes to the pruning of the vines and ébourgement (de-budding).'

The English lessons in Bordeaux pay off as Loïc is able to articulate why de-budding is so critical to the quality of the wines. 'This involves removing some of the grape's buds before they mature and it is the most important technique in the vineyard, I believe. It ensures that grapes are kept separate and do not touch on the vine eliminating the risk of rot and disease.'

In 2013, a challenging vintage in many ways, Loïc says that there were dramatic differences between those that had de-budded and those that hadn't. 'The hard work in the vineyard paid off,' he says, plus the wind helped to save the crop by blowing through the vineyard and keeping the rot at bay. 'We also had the advantage of being able to machine harvest, allowing us to pick the grapes quickly when the weather started to deteriorate.'

'When you are young you need to push the boundaries'

Loïc and Alain Cailbourdin with Society Buyer, Jo LockeI ask how Loïc's father, Alain, has taken to the changes brought in by his son. 'In general we share very similar views and ideas. Because of my training I am now able to back up some of the ideas we have with solid theory. When you are young you need to push the boundaries, sometimes my father is a bit reluctant, so we meet half way.' He says that he and his father get on very well and enjoy each other's company. 'If we couldn't work together you'd feel it in the wines.'

September 2014

Find out more about Domaine Alain Cailbourdin
Browse for wines from Domaine Alain Cailbourdin
Read more interviews with the new generation of Loire growers

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