Eccentricity in the Loire Valley

One of the Loire’s most famous and longest lived whites, Clos de la Coulee de Serrant, comes from a 17-acre vineyard that is farmed according to the principles of biodynamics. This is a holistic system of “living agriculture” whereby the soil is nurtured through the natural forces. The vineyard is not exposed to chemicals. Planting, harvesting, and bottled take place only at certain times according to the position of planets, as well as the intensity of light and heat. Natural animal and vegetable matter is applied to the soil to strengthen it, and herbal preparation may be added to help maximize photosynthesis.

Each winter, horn manure is prepared by stuffing a mixture of dung inside the horn of a female cow and buried for six months. In spring, the mixture is sprinkled in the vineyard to rejuvenate the roots. In summer, horns containing ground quartz crystals are buried, then dug out around harvest and applied to strengthen the vine for winter.The Joly family, owners of the vineyard since 1959, believe that modern agricultural methods have ravaged the soil, creating inferior wines. Though many consider the Joly idea eccentric, a number of famous French wine producers also follow the principle of biodynamics.