Domaine Yannick Amirault

France, Loire

Yannick Amirault took over three and a half hectares of vines from his grandfather 30 years ago, and today with his son Benoit works 12 hectares in Bourgeuil and 7 in St-Nicholas-de-Bourgeuil. The vineyards have been worked organically for 15 years and have been certified Organic since 2009. The family are seriously talented in the cellar and not shy of trying new things - the new Malgagnes cuvée which ages in their special Jarres are testament to this. Everything is hand harvested and hard work in the vineyards means only the very best fruit is brought in. Only natural yeasts are used, with fermentations being allowed as long as they need. These wines are crisp and bright with a dramatic purity - made as naturally as possible but without having any unsatisfactory 'natural' traits. Incredible quality here across the range.

One of the leading figures in the Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil appellations, Yannick Amirault makes everything from juicy, fruity interpretations of Cabernet Franc to the deep and powerful Pavillon du Grand Clos. A few things have changed since son Benoît joined the 19-hectare family domaine. In the vineyard, Benoît Amirault continues his father Yannick’s work, avoiding herbicides and conducting a green harvest, not to cut yields but to remove substandard fruit. Having practiced organic viticulture since 2000 (certified in 2011), according to Benoît Amirault, they won’t be going down the biodynamic route. There’s a hands-off approach in the winery, where use of sulfur dioxide during fermentation ended in 2014. Vinification is guided by terroir, so the light gravel- and sand-based terroirs have a shorter maceration, while the local limestone, tuffeau, enjoys five weeks on skins and aging in oak. There’s even experimentation with Hungarian 600-liter jarres to reduce the impact of wood on the fruit. The domaine also makes round, oak-influenced Chenin Blanc while maintaining freshness. The Rosé d’Equinoxe is one of the most serious, food-worthy style you will find in the Loire. Rebecca Gibb MW -  (Oct 2021)

This has long been one of my favorite estates of the central Loire. Since inheriting the property from his father, Yannick Amirault has transformed it into one of the most respected producers of cabernet franc in France. As he is such a quiet gentleman, I have always wondered why he has a cannon for a logo. Was he once a rebel? That role should now fall to his son, Benoit, but the two work so harmoniously together that it is hard to imagine him driving without a cause like James Dean. Both show great respect for nature, keeping their intervention in both vineyard and cellar to a minimum. Not surprisingly, the wines display a harmony and purity not often found elsewhere. In any given year, their Petite Cave is regularly one of my calls for the best Loire Valley cabernet franc of the vintage. Anyone serious about cabernet franc should search out these wines. They are currently the benchmarks by which others are measured. Joel B. Payne, Vinous (  (Dec 2014)