Matthieu and Sylvanie Bouchet manage the Domaine Château-Gaillard in the Loire Valley. In 1990 they took over the family vineyard from François Bouchet, Matthieu's father. They continue to use the same principles that underpinned François’ winemaking – to not use synthetic chemicals, but to focus on biodynamic practices.
Matthieu and Sylvanie continue the traditions of the vineyard as a farm, keeping animals and allowing natural growth amongst the vines. Wines are bottled as “vin de France”, allowing them to express themselves as winemakers freely.
Grapes are hand-harvested in small batches. The wines are then vinified in tuffeau cellars, ageing for at least 18 months in old oak barrels. It may be more work for the team, but the traditional methods produce stunning results.
WHAT IS BIODYNAMIC WINE?
Biodynamic wines are made using a series of farming procedures developed from the work of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. There’s a focus on the entire vineyard as an ecosystem, with the vines co-existing with other plants, animals and the soil.
There’s a commitment to the cycles of the moon, strict fertilization preparations (including burying manure in a cow’s horn over the winter!) and many other recommended farming practices. Although biodynamic wines are made in an organic way, they have different certification methods (from bodies like Demeter and Biodyvin) and slightly different rules concerning sulfites.
One thing that separates biodynamic wine producers from many other winemakers is the intense ways they care for the land. All biodynamic farming principles used are concerned with caring for the vineyard ecosystem as a whole. So if you find a biodynamic wine, you can be pretty sure the producers have been thinking long and hard about how to create green, sustainable wines.
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