Quincy is the name of a village in the eastern Loire and also of a small appellation located south-west of Sancerre along the Cher river; it sits apart from the other, more regrouped Loire appellations, like its sister appellation Reuilly. There’s only one variety grown on the Quincy appellation, Sauvignon, and for us French wine amateurs who can’t buy Sancerre on a regular basis, the Quincy wines are a nice consolation at an affordable cost. The planted vineyards make about 220 hectares on both sides of the Cher river, on sandy or gravel soils with also some silt. This very old wine-producing region which was making both reds and whites in the past, ended up being centered on Sauvignon, and was oddly the first Loire region to get an appellation status, on august 6th 1936 to be precise. Read the very-detailed Quincy page by Richard Kelley.
Pierre Ragon is the 5th or 6th generation of growers/vignerons in Quincy, the first Trotereau (his mother side) arrived in Quincy in 1804, coming from Vierzon where they were making wine too. Although Vierzon is close from here and just a few kilometers north, it's hard to imagine today that there were vineyards there long time ago (it's mostly known in France for being a railways crossroads). Pierre Ragon began to work as an independant vigneron in 1973 from 4 hectares owned by his uncle/family and since then he replanted 10 more hectares, making a total surface of 14 hectares. That already quite a surface especially that he works alone with a permanent employee. It's all Sauvignon of course except for a few diverse rows that they vinify for themselves and don't sell (I love to know that there are such secret gardens and their mysterious wines...). The winery sits in the village of Quincy, in the very house built by his mother-side ancestors in 1830.
In the area, people look to make big volumes in general, he says, with the grapes often being picked not ripe and so on. For his part, Pierre Ragon picks when the acidity goes down, like under 5, like 4,8, it's fine for him. In 2010 some began to pick at 6,8 and that doesn't make a good result. The belief around here, he says, is that Quincy wines must be fresh and vivid (frais et vif) and they pick and vinify for that goal, loosing the aromatic side in the way. He aknowledges that harvesting later means more risks with a more arduous vinification, but the resulting wine is much more rewarding. That's the choice that he made anyway. His wines may be spotted as different during the agreement conmission tastings, but they still pass the test. What may happen in these commissions is that a wine can be adjourned for having a slight bitterness, something Pierre Ragon doesn't consider a fault. Being ajourned doesn't mean banned from getting the appellation, but it delays the green light for a couple of weeks until a following agreement session, which ads some stress and pushes the vignerons to apply some sort of self-restraint on what they bring for the agreement. Serving temperature counts by the way, the bitterness being more obvious when the wine is cold, he says. Also, the bitterness often disappears by june following the vintage year, and the agreement commission taking place earlier, they misjudge the wine as if it was as is forever.
The facility is still located on the family property in the village of Quincy, but there is not much room, so Pierre Ragon had this barn-like open roof built in the courtyard facing the 1830 house, under which he stores his machinery but also two coupled former freight containers inside which he set up a vat room. You can see the 37-hectoliter Bücher press in the background. In addition to this press, he uses two other older-generation Vaslin presses because on some days he has to press several plots in parallel. A press load takes 4 hours usually.
One of the fermentation vatroom has been set up outside in the courtyard under the roof, a couple meters from the press : Two former freight containers have been connected in line and fitted with 5 metal vats making 50 hectoliters each.. The ceiling in there is pretty low but that is enough for the vats, and at the beginning the cooling system of the freight containers allowed Pierre Ragon to cool the whole room at once. Now, he uses cooling coils (drapeaux) to cool individually each of the vats.
Asked if the press juice and the free run juice are blended, Pierre Ragon says that it depends of how they taste.
The soil is mostly clay and limestone with some quartz.
In the 1980s', his vineyards which were very scattered and often very small because of successive inheritance divisions were restructured along with the ones of several other growers around here. An OGAF was organised for this purpose, which is a voluntary land reform conducted under the supervision of the the State agriculture administration. The SAFER, another French agriculture administration received money in that operation (from the State or the region) so that it could buy back vineyard land that were not used anymore by their owners and sell it on interesting loan conditions to the growers needing vineyards. Many small plots with sometimes as little as 3 or 4 rows could thus be joined to larger surfaces. Under this program, growers still in activity also exchanged plots to optmize the homogeneity of their surface.
__Domaine Trotereau Quincy Tradition 2009. Bottled 3 weeks earlier. Lightly perly, an aromatic wine with pear pit notes, white flowers. A pleasantly balanced wine. Pierre Ragon and his cousin who joined us look for a spit bucket but I tell them that I don't think I'll risk a breath check in the afternoon for my motorbike trip back to my base further west from here.
__ Domaine Troterau Quincy Vielles Vignes 2009. I smell some hawthorn. Obviously more depth and class here. Nice one. It's also more on the exotic fruits, citrus maybe. Obviously a few steps higher compared to the young vines, and the vinification was basically the same, with the élevage in metal tanks.
__Domaine Trotereau Quincy, undisclosed (at first) vintage. Pierre Ragon uncorks with a smile the dusty bottle (pic on right) that he brought from a corner of the cellar where it must have been lying for a while... The color of the wine is surprising, a mix of gold, amber and lightly green shades (see last picture at the bottom). The nose is amazing, you want to just take time to breath it first. Asked about its story, Pierre Ragon says that this wine had an impressive residual sugar during the vinification and he put it to ferment in one of the 58-hectoliter stainless-steel vats, at 3/4 full, the wine alternating there between fermentation bouts and pauses for almost a whole year, before finishing at last just before the harvest. Aromas of flowers, walnut, hints of what could be perceived as wood, but there has been no wood contact here. Very classy wine, perfectly dry and neat in the mouth. Pierre Ragon says that it's the wine he's the most proud of. I can't find a reason for the color with this green, and he says that it comes from the long élevage in bottles, but also the wine had a good concentration originally in this vintage. So, what vintage is this ? It is a Quincy Vieilles Vignes 2000, a nice vintage with good harvest conditions. Asked if this wine was sold on the usual schedules or only after a few years, he says as usual, beginning after a year, and this particular vintage was split between France, Japan and the U.S. (he was imported by Weygandt then, this importer still owing him an unpaid debt to this day, by the way).
The two cuvées of Domaine Trotereau are priced respectively 4,3 € (Tradition) and 5,7 € (Vieilles Vignes), professional price (without tax). Pierre Ragon makes about 50 000 bottles a year. The wines of Domaine Trotereau are presently exported to the UK (Berkmann Wine Cellars and Tanners Wine Merchants), to Japan (Azuma Corp.) and soon to Canada (Ontario - LCBO).