Clos des Orfeuilles: a mineral treasure from the Muscadet.

Published 09.02.2022
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Despite being firmly anchored in Bordeaux, the Castel family also maintains a presence in the Loire Valley, with its three Family Estates Château de l’Hyvernière, Château de la Botinière, and Clos des Orfeuilles.

The latter, with its remarkably heterogeneous soils, offers organic white wines made with 100% Melon de Bourgogne that are among the shining lights of the Muscadet-Sèvre-et-Maine appellation’s recent revival. 

If you could only choose one epithet to describe Clos des Orfeuilles, it would undoubtedly be “magnificent mosaic”. In the shadow of the Clos des Orfeuilles tower, a former windmill, the property’s 18.5 hectare vineyard located between la Chapelle Heulin and Le Pallet combines no fewer than four different soil types. Master of its domain, the Melon de Bourgogne grape variety reveals every aspect of its complex personality. To protect and preserve this gift from nature, Clos des Orfeuilles achieved organic certification (AB) in 2012. Making the natural vitality of its soils a major priority, the property abandoned synthetic chemicals in the production of its wine, focussing instead on mechanical soil tillage and auxiliary cover crops.

A precious geological quartet

The Clos des Orfeuilles trademark is undoubtedly its terroir. To bring out every diverse aspect of the emblematic local grape variety Melon de Bourgogne (otherwise known as Muscadet), the vineyard has been divided into four distinct plots. In search of complexity, each brings its own individual character to the final blend, which is a collection of divergent expressions. To the north, Moulinlandes is rich in quartz , bringing a lively, mineral profile, with a saline touch. To the west, Les Censives combines amphibolite, gneiss and quartz for a lighter structure with powerful aromas, with expressive mineral and flowery notes. To the south, Les Ecotais is made up exclusively of orthogneiss, offering a more classic, robust, sun-drenched style, providing the final blend with roundness and subtle astringency. Finally, to the east, Orfeuilles, the first plot to undergo organic conversion, is dominated by gneiss and orthogneiss, making for wines characterised by freshness and tension, alongside citrus notes. 

Plot-by-plot winemaking

To bring out as best as possible the unique character of each plot, each is harvested and vinified separately in a specially adapted winery. In the winery, the thermoregulated stainless-steel vats allow the technical team to control every aspect of winemaking. After pneumatic pressing at low pressure, fermentation takes place at a temperature of 16°C for an average of 24 hours. Known as “indigeneous”, the strains of yeast used for fermentation are selected from each plot. This differentiated “plot-by-plot” approach also applies to the aging process, which is carried out “on fine lees” for a period of eight months, with racking at the end of the fermentation process and two to three stirrings of the lees depending on the year. This time-honoured process provides the final blend with body and finesse.

"Lively and distinguished"

Wines from Clos des Orfeuilles are the fruit of a time-honoured process, and reveal a magnificent glistening, bright pale yellow colour. Lively and distinguished, driven by freshness and finesse, they offer excellent aromatic complexity. The oscillate between typically intense citrus notes, hints of exotic fruit and aniseed, and a characteristic saline touch. On the palette, the wines are balanced with a long finish, combining full-bodied richness and an exemplary mineral freshness. This profile makes Clos des Orfeuilles the perfect pairing for any number of dishes (fish, chicken, veal, mature goats cheese). Depending on the vintage, the wine can be aged in bottle for five to ten years according to the vintage.

Learn more about Clos des Orfeuilles at closdesorfeuilles.com.