Chateau du Petit Thouars on the southern banks of the Loire east of Saumur is a historic vineyard site which has been replanted with vines in recent years. It is built in the classic French seventeenth-century style overlooking a meadow and woodland and has been in the same family since 1636.
Chateau du Petit Thouars. Photo: Guy Collins
Sebastien du Petit Thouars represents the twelfth generation of his family to live in the chateau, and recently inherited ownership. The vineyard was created by his parents Yves and Marguerite du Petit Thouars, who married in 1974 and started developing the vineyard the following year, basing their winemaking vision on maps in the family archives showing the original layout and usage of the land.
The estate's white Chenin Blanc is produced from a plot of vines planted in 2010 and which had its first vintage in 2013, according to its website. The wine is refreshing and well-structured and typical of the local style. The estate also produces Chinon cabernet franc reserve reds that are aged in oak for between 15 and 18 months, as well as some rose and sparkling wines.
Its top-of-the-range Cuvee Amiral reds are made from press wines of exceptional vintages and aged for more than two years in oak. The Amiral name alludes to the family's seafaring history. One ancestor, Aristide Aubert Dupetit-Thouars, fought in the American War of Independence and died at the Battle of Aboukir during the Napoleonic Wars in Egypt in 1798. Two other family members became admirals.
Sebastien du Petit Thouars's father was director-general of glassmaker Cristalleries de Baccarat , while Sebastien himself worked in the music industry before joining the vineyard in a commercial capacity in 2008. His cellar master is Michel Pinard.
There is a shady forecourt where visitors wait before entering the tasting room, and on a visit earlier this month Sebastien du Petit Thouars spoke with pride of the family's long association with the area as he guided our group through a flight of wines. The chateau itself, while imposing, is hidden by woodland from the road, so is easy to drive past unless one is looking out for signs. As they say, worth a detour!