THE FINEST FRENCH WINES - ARTISAN & FAMILY OWNED PRODUCERS

Domaine Le Petit Saint Vincent | Dominique Joseph's talents on show

Domaine Le Petit Saint Vincent | Dominique Joseph's talents on show

The lively, friendly and talented Dominique Joseph is impossible to miss within Varrains' elite group of producers. Firstly, with five generations of growers on his father’s side and four generations on his mother’s, Dominique is both grounded and deeply rooted in the terroir. However, not one to take anything for granted, it is with great humility that "Pélo", as he likes to be called by his friends, is continually re-examining his efforts both in the vineyard and the Domaine to improve his wines. 

Born into a wine family in Saumur, Dominique's grandfather George appointed his son Maurice to start making the wines and bottle the production. Dominique continued the tradition by studying winemaking in Saumur, and gained experience as an intern in several local Domaines before eventually taking charge of the family business in 1990. At the time the Domaine was 10 hectares, in which he readily increased to 12 hectares, with currently one hectare as a new plantation.

At that time, organic farming was a relatively new practice in France. Despite a push from a handful of farmers in the 1950s, its application was only just visibly underway in the late 1970s. Dominique was an early adapter and within two years of taking over the Domaine it was entirely organically farmed. His methodology and practices paid off and indeed bought a fresh air to the Saumur region by emphasising quality over quantity. Saumur, once one of the Loire Valley's lesser known offerings became more widely known henceforth. 

15 years on, Domaine le Petit Saint Vincent is now among the best producers and still continuing to climb. When visiting him, I could see the motivation sparkle in Dominique’s eyes more than ever, even after 28 vintages under his belt. He continuously challenges himself to evolve and improve the quality of his wine. In 2011, Dominique started to separately bottle his top terroir such as “Les Poyeux”, “Les Clos Lyzières” and “Les Perruchets”. The former, “Les Poyeux”, is a rock star terroir home to the most amazing, complex and energetic Cabernet Franc you’ll find in France. The soils are sandy at the top, with the landmark yellow tuffeau and clay and limestone at the bottom of the slope. The infamous Clos Rougeard is a neighbour.

“Les Clos Lyzières” is right below to the “Les Poyeux” on mostly clay, bringing a bolder and more structured approach to Cabernet Franc to the otherwise delicate and fragrant “Les Poyeux”.

As for “Les Perruchets”, it’s a rarity, with a small production. Dominique is one of the last producer of Chenin Blanc in this great location, where plenty of rocks draw the landscape and below ground heavy limestone is the norm with a bit of clay at the top. The average age of the vineyards is old, about 55 years of age, which further enhances the complexity of the wines. 

The organic vineyards are harvested by hand and the grapes are not fully destemmed to undergo their maceration in concrete vats for the blended cuvées and in an oak vat for “Les Poyeux”. A low yielding vineyard is always offering wines of great depth and complexity. Once the maceration or infusion is done, fermentation is completed with respect to the fruit. The ageing is specific to each cuvée.

All in all, these bottles of Cabernet Franc are deliciously airy and floral with great fruit concentration and silky structures. The Sparkling Rosé is so drinkable with a fine mousse and delicate fruit profile. Last but not least, Dominique is crafting one of the great Chenin Blancs of the area, you must get your hands on them before this vintage sells out.
Petit Saint Vincent wine bottles lined up

The Petit Saint Vincent Timeline

  • Dominique's grandfather George appointed his son Maurice to start making the wines and bottle the production.
  • Dominique continued the tradition by studying winemaking in Saumur, and gained experience as an intern in several local domaines.
  • 1990 - Dominique took charge of the family business. At the time the Domaine was 10 hectares, which he readily increased to 12.
  • 1992 - As an early adapter, within two years of taking over the Domaine he converted it to being entirely organically farmed. His methodology and practices paid off and indeed brought fresh air to the Saumur region by emphasising quality over quantity. 
  • 2011 - Dominique started to separately bottle his top terroir such as “Les Poyeux”, “Les Clos Lyzières” and “Les Perruchets”. Interestingly, “Les Perruchets” is a rare wine in Saumur, as Dominique is one of the last producer of Chenin Blanc in this great location.
  • 2022 - 20 years on, Domaine le Petit Saint Vincent is now among the best producers and still continuing to climb.