Portraits Vignerons - Eric Santier : un ex-commercial à Dubai devient vigneron dans la Loire - Les Grappes

Eric Santier: an ex-salesman in Dubai becomes a winegrower in the Loire region

How about a little homecoming, do you fancy a little homecoming? Today, Eric Santier tells us about his reconversion in the vineyards and how he took over the Domaine Dozon: 14 hectares of history in his native Loire.

Confidences of Eric Santier, winemaker at Domaine Dozon (Loire): "Wine was not an obvious career choice".

I am originally from Chinon but wine was not a career choice. My childhood friends were part of winegrowers' families, so it was my only link with the area. I then took my first steps in the grape harvest... and from grape harvest to grape harvest, the world of wine definitely seduced me! However, I took the path of business studies to make a career in the agri-food industry and worked, among others, for the Sopexa agency in Dubai for eight years. This was enough time for my youthful aspirations to resurface, to become clearer, and that I decided in 2011 to return to France to work in the vineyards. Change of course, I resume my studies, this time in viticulture and oenology at Bordeaux Sciences Agro. After internships in the Bordeaux region, I make my big return to Chinon, in the Loire to work with Bernard and Mathieu Baudry.

Eric Santier's Domaine Dozon: a new approach to terroir in the Loire Valley

It was chance that led me to the Dozon family: in 2013 I was offered the opportunity to take over the estate, which had been in the family for five generations. Eager for new adventures, I launch out! To set up the project of resumption and especially to finance it, three friends come to associate with me. In terms of manpower, I chose to take over the staff already present on the estate, but also to hire two workers who support me on a daily basis. If the terroir remains the same, clayey soil at the top of the hillsides and clay-limestone at the bottom of the slopes, I have chosen to cultivate the vines with a new approach. Composed of 97% Cabernet Franc and 3% Chenin, I work it in order to produce less full-bodied wines, with less hard tannins than before and more suppleness and freshness. Thus, the harvest dates are delayed to gain in maturity, the vatting periods are shorter and the extractions are stronger. In the end, we readjust our choices according to the sensations at the tasting.

Technique, ethics and passion of the vine in AOC Chinon

The moment that I prefer is surely the beginning of the vinification, then when the harvest finally comes! And the two years with Bernard and Mathieu Baudry are not for nothing. Not only have they passed on to me a real passion in their approach to the vines, but also humility despite their great notoriety in Chinon. This questioning seems to me essential in our profession today, there are always evolutions to be made. In terms of marketing this is also the case. Today I am still in the implementation phase in the domain but I would like to work with new distributors, innovative circuits like Les Grappes is a good example of this! I am not in a strategy of volume but I am looking for a permanent improvement of our techniques to have a rise in range. It is in this approach that the cuvéeLe Petit cheminThe new vintage for 2014 for which we have selected well-identified plots, and established a meticulous vinification itinerary thought out to obtain a wine that is easy to drink.

Ariane (Les Grappes)

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