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Xavière Hardy

The wines of Les Terres Blues first came to my attention in 2019. Sitting around a table at François Blanchard’s house with friends Luke Skidmore and Campbell Burton, they told François and I the story of their days journey to visit producers in the Loire, and a particularly special visit they had made all the way to the west of the Loire, around 60kms or so north of Nante to visit an enigmatic woman called Xavière Hardy. As they spoke we tasted through some bottles from her domaine that they had bought back with them, and I was truly impressed - both by the story and the wines.

After many years working in environmental engineering, Xavière decided that she wanted to settle and grow vines in La Chapelle Glain, in the far north-western Loire. After much discussion with her peers and after specific scientific analysis, she chose grape varieties suited to thrive in the unique conditions and on the blue schist of the region, the only problem then was that the department and the local mairie expressly forbade the planting of any vines in her area.

Xavière was unrelenting and after a long fight against 'The Man', finally she was successful and commenced planting her vines in 2013. Choosing to work with grolleau, pinot noir, pinot gris and a traditional Etnean albarello training method (mentioned in our profile on Salvo Foti), Xavière enlisted the help of friends and family to help her install the hundreds of wooden posts required to train the vines in her new 1.5ha plot. The alberello method was a particularly insightful choice for the site, as the bush training allows for multiple beneficial factors relating to vine growth, maximum sun exposure - and air flow, which is very important as in 2016 and 2017 she lost upwards of 70% of her crop due to frost damage.

Doing everything by hand, she began working with both organic and biodynamic practices from the outset and as of 2019 is fully certified by Demeter. Preferring to maintain her natural approach, and with the overall health and vitality of the ecosystem as the paramount concern, the vineyard is only treated with nectars and tisanes made from local herbs and plants and, though she was been advised to do so due to the nature of her soils, she refuses to add any copper or sulphates in the vineyard or cellar.