In 1996, Philippe Germain’s father, Bernard, bought Château de Fesles along with Château de la Guimonière and Château de la Roulerie from pastry chef Gaston Lenôtre, who died at the beginning of 2009. Lenôtre had bought these wineries in a fit of enthusiasm in 1991 following the wonderful vintages of 1989 and 1990, which unfortunately were followed by the severely frosted 1991, very mediocre 1992, average 1993 and difficult 1994. Making great sweet wines in the Loire is risky. Fesles and Guimonière were sold off and they kept the gem, the ancient Château de la Roulerie, whose origins date back to the 11th century.
Philippe has been living at the property since 2001 but it is only more recently that he has stamped his authority on the domaine. Previously, all the wine was made at Château de Fesles with Bernard overseeing the operation, and with the help of brother Thierry. In 2004 Philippe took full control, and with him firmly in place, operations moved to Château de la Roulerie in 2008, after renovation of all the buildings and installation of the equipment. Remarkably, this was the return of winemaking to the domaine after a 20 year hiatus, wine having last been made there only before the property was sold by previous owner Jadeau to the chef Lenôtre.
The domaine has a total of 42 hectares, 38 of them planted, divided between La Roulerie (24 hectares) and Les Grandes Brosses (18 hectares), for a total of 17 parcels. All the wines come from their estate fruit, encompassing Anjou Rouge (20% of the production amongst 3 cuvées: Château de la Roulerie, Les Terrasses, Les Mérances), Anjou Blanc (5 cuvées: Le Petit Chenin, Les Grandes Brosses, Château de la Roulerie, Les Terrasses, Magnolia), Côteaux du Layon and Côteaux du Layon Chaume. The vines are planted at a dense 4500 plants per hectare on schistous soils, ideal for fine wine production. The vineyards are all on the slopes and oriented South-Southwest, critical for even ripening in this northerly vineyard. Yields are kept to a low 25-30 hectoliters/ hectare. Dry white wines are only produced since the beginning of 2000. They were first going through malolactic fermentation (no more), had a little residual sugar and a strong oak character. The style has since evolved in favor of more balanced whites with higher acidity, more elegance (no more bâtonnage and skin contact) and discrete oak (Philippe now uses larger barrels, 600 and 700 liters). The wines are lightly filtered but never fined. There is very little free SO2 on the whites, 15 to 20 mg per liter.
Farming/vinification practices: Certified Organic since the 2015 vintage. Since 2011, Philippe has started to convert to biodynamie and face the number of challenges presented by the conversion. The wines are vegan.
Old Cabernet Franc vines