The Loire Valley is one of the main pioneering regions for natural wine in France, with flagship estates spread across the different appellation areas of this vast region. In Anjou, in the heart of the Coteaux du Layon region, Domaine des Griottes has been one of the leading examples since the early 2000s. Founded by Patrick Desplats and Sébastien Dervieux - who went their separate ways in 2011 - the Domaine stands out for its artisanal approach: small-scale vineyards, traditional farming and natural winemaking.
Patrick Desplats and Sébastien Dervieux set up their Domaine des Griottes in 2001 in Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay in the heart of the Coteaux du Layon in Anjou. Starting with predominantly old plots of schist soil, the vineyard gradually grew to around 8.5 hectares of Loire grape varieties: Chenin (for the Navine and Caroline cuvée), Romorantin, Pineau d'Aunis (La Poivrière), Gamay, Grolleau, etc., which were vinified as a blend (Épona). The practices in the vineyard exclude all synthetic chemicals (apart from bouillie bordelaise) and are based on manual work and ploughing (in particular with Caroline, the domain's mare). The practices in the cellar are natural (indigenous yeasts, 0 sulphur), without intervention, with perfectly ripe grapes, gentle pressing in vertical presses and ageing in old barrels: these are the foundations of an approach that favours authenticity and quality. In 2011, the two winegrowers went their separate ways: Patrick Desplats has moved towards "non-culture" and vinifies in underground jars ("qvevris"), while Sébastien Dervieux has created his own estate, Les Vignes de Babass.