Châteaumeillant is an appellation with thousands of years of grape growing history that specializes in rosé wine known as vin gris, as well as red wines made from Gamay and Pinot Noir grapes.
In the center of France, Châteaumeillant, lies in the Indre and Cher departments, and spans across seven villages: Châteaumeillant, St-Maur, Vesdun, Champillet, Feusines, Néret and Urciers. The appellation’s 61 hectares (151 acres) is predominantly comprised of sandy or clayey-sandy siliceous soils.
Vineyards in Châteaumeillant are traced to the 5th century. As the Melyan of the Biturigians, Châteaumeillant was home to the Biturican vines. The area was also an important road junction between Rome and Gaul, where wine was stored in amphorae. The first confirmed existence of wine in Châteaumeillant came from Gregory of Tours in Historiae Francorum in 582.
Between 1220 and 1275, a series of charters were issued relating to the means of production. Labor in the vineyards was under feudal rule and known as corvée, which was forced labor by the lord in lieu of taxes. Among the governing principles established under these charters was the principle of ban des vendages, or rules regulating the official start of harvesting, which still exists today.
In 1773, new vine stocks were brought from Lyon, and by 1830, Gamay, which is native of Beaujolais, was the most widely planted variety on the area. Châteaumeillant is renowned for its vin gris (grey wine), which is produced by pressing Gamay grapes immediately after harvesting. Châteaumeillant wines were awarded V.D.Q.S. (Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure) status in 1965, and finally A.O.C. status in 2010.
The sub-soil is formed of a metamorphosed stratum containing mostly sandstone, mica schist and gneiss, topped by predominantly sandy and sandy-clay flinty soil.
The Vendanges (grape harvest) in Centre-Loire begin between the last week of September and the first week of October, ending the last two weeks of October with Châteaumeillant, which normally completes the harvest season. Some grapes are still harvested by hand, particularly red grapes, though most are picked with mechanical grape harvesters. The grapes are sent to the modern wine storehouses for processing. In the Centre-Loire, two winemaking methods are employed.
Red Châteaumeillant wines combine aromas of berry with hints of pepper. Gris (“grey”) rosés are structured, with original freshness and fruitiness. In these, white fruit and vineyard peach melt into sweeter notes.
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