Winemaker Interview Series – 5 Questions for:
Lionel Gauthier, Winemaker at Domaine du Viking, Loire Valley (Vouvray), France.
1- How long have you been making wine and what do you enjoy most ?
I have been making wine for decades! Our winery has been in existence for many, many years. We discovered ownership documents in my grandparent’s house, dating back to 1835. But it dates back further than that, as my ancestors lived in the same house earlier on as tenants.
My grandfather first-commenced working with the vineyard in the 1950’s, on about 4 hectares at that time. Today, Domain du Viking has a total of some 17 hectares.
What I enjoy the most about the winemaking is the creation process. I love tasting all our wines at every stage of fermentation: from the pressed grape juice (must) through to the final product, when it has become wine and is ready to be enjoyed. And also planning and deciding how to blend different barrels, to produce the best wine possible.
2- What are the top 3 skills a good winemaker needs to possess today ?
Humility, patience and self-questioning as every year is different. What is an advantage or benefit one year can be a problem for us the next. We need to continue searching for excellence and this takes time and patience.
3- What are your favourite red, white and sparkling wines of all time ?
Vouvray of course! Just a little legendary French arrogance for you! I don’t like sauvignon very much. I prefer chablis. I really like Saumur-Champigny and Corbières red wines, and old vintage sparkling wines (whether it’s Champagne – or not).
4- In a few words, how would you describe Domaine du Viking wines ?
We typically and regularly monitor our climate and weather conditions, to selectively produce quality Vouvray wine. For example, in 2016, Domaine du Viking produced a sparkling Vouvray (petillant) and Vouvray Tendre (off-dry) – that’s all! No dry Vouvray and no semi-dry Vouvray. That’s why we say, one can find sun or rain in our bottles!
Our wines have a broad tasting range – often a long finish – with a variety of flavours which transpire upon one’s palate.
Wine Family of Domaine du Viking
5- What does the future hold for Vouvray wine and region ? And why should wine & food lovers visit ?
Wine tourism is developing more and more in our region and this is the future. Vouvray is at the heart of the Loire Valley, and it is a tradition here to receive visitors in our wonderful castles, museums and botanic gardens. Some people want to also visit vineyards (as well as for tasting wines before buying), and up until now, only a very few winemakers offered visits of their vineyards. Over the past 2 to 3 years, winemakers have started offering offering wine tastings and tours, just as we do in Domaine du Viking. For example, we offer a vineyard tour with a stop inside our cellars which have been excavated out of rock (tuffeau); or some thematic wine and food Vouvray tastings – with Vouvray cheese or appetisers.
Wine and food lovers should visit the Loire valley as we produce a lot of specialities (ie. nougat de Tours, rillons, rillettes de Tours, many varieties of goat’s cheese and of course a lot of different wines). Vouvray wine region is known in French as the place to discover the ‘art de vivre’ or ‘art of living’.
Our region is also UNESCO listed for unique ‘live cultural’ experiences where cultural meets history, castles, vineyards and wine. We love to welcome people from all over the world, to discuss French winemaking today – a great reason for wine & food lovers to visit us!