by Melba Allen
Have you ever seen vines growing through a wall? Not just one vine, but a whole vineyard?…
Well amazingly enough I have in the Saumur region. There is a vineyard called “Clos d’Entre les Murs” which is indeed a walled-in vineyards with approximately eleven more walls constructed 2 meters high and 1200 meters long. Here the feet of the vines are on north side of the walls and the head grows on the south side for better sun exposure.
Bought in 2006 by Mathias Levron and Régis Vincent, the beautiful Château de Parnay, use to be a fortress in the Middle-Ages. It later became the property of the Duke of Anjou in the 15th century and later was attacked and burned during the Revolution. Afterwards, the Château was renovated in the Renaissance style and then bought in 1887 by Antoine Cristal who initiated this vineyard and its walls.
What Cristal did was with his best vineyard, he had constructed 11 walls in a row at the same 2-meter height running east to west. The feet of the vines are planted on the north side, while the new growth is oriented on the south side through the wall. The idea behind this method is to give the vines greatest protection and energy for optimal fruit maturity.
The “Clos d’Entre les Murs” of Château de Parnay is the only vineyard in France of its kind. It produces a white wine in the appellation Saumur blanc using the Chenin blanc grape on clay and limestone soils. Antoine Cristal wanted to make wines from the Clos d’Entre desMurs that rivaled those of Bordeaux and Burgundy, especially from the Hospice de Beaune. With this in mind, in 1929 he bequeath many of the wines from Château de Parnay to the Hospice de Saumur. Other wines produced by Château de Parnay are:
As proud owners of the legacy left by Antoine Cristal, Mathias Levron and Régis Vincentgive great importance and are quite faithful to the originality of the structure of Clos d’Entre les Murs which is also an interesting approach for other grape-growers and wine makers.