Domaine de Vens-le-Haut

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Country of Origin: France
Location: Seysell, Haute-Savoie
People: Georges Siegenthaler, Owner & Winemaker
Viticulture: Practicing Biodynamic

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The Domaine Vens-le-Haut was established in 2003 by Georges Siegenthaler, a Swiss biochemist who taught and did research at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Geneva. The story of this petite domaine started with a single, small parcel of the Molette grape planted in Vens-le-Haut, a hamlet of the village of Seyssel in the Haute-Savoie. Siegenthaler immediately accepted as his challenge the objective of producing the highest quality wine while following the principles of organic and biodynamic viticulture. To that end, he has adopted a “no till” approach to his vineyards; he has planted various legumes, including clover in the rows between the vines, which he cuts two to three times during the season to provide nutrients to the topsoil. Siegenthaler’s best workers in the vineyards are the resident earthworms! Vine cuttings and marc produced during the vinification are used as compost for the vines. Harvest is, of course, manual. In 2009, the domaine expanded when Siegenthaler was joined by Jean-Marie Loriaud who brought two hectares of vineyards to the domaine.

At present, the vineyards are split between the one hectare parcel planted in the hamlet of Vens-le-Haut, just outside of Seyssel at approximately 300 meters altitude and two hectares in the “cru” of Chautagne at 380 meters altitude. The vineyard at Vens-le-Haut is planted primarily to younger vines of Mondeuse on black-tinted sandstone soil (mollasse) along with the local white grapes, Molette and Altesse. The vineyard faces southwest. The vineyards in Chautagne face south-southwest, are on a very steep slope and are composed of a clay-limestone mix. One finds here plantings of Gamay, Mondeuse, Pinot Noir, Jacquere, and Aligoté.

The white wines of the domaine are vinified and raised in stainless steel and bottled as dry wines with no residual sugar. The reds, after crushing, undergo remontage but not pigeage during the 15 to 20 day cuvaison. Then, the malolactic occurs in stainless steel followed by an elevage for 8 to 9 months in small oak barrels before bottling.