Michel Autran and his ageing natural wines from Chenin Blanc. Vouvray Loire France

Michel Autran

Michel Autran makes natural wines from Chenin Blanc in Vouvray, Loire. Akin to his influential friend Richard Leroy, he came to winemaking later in life, after a long career of nearly two decades in emergency medicine. In 2011, his childhood dream of becoming a ‘paysan’ took root with the acquisition of half a hectare of old vines on prime South-facing vineyards (overlooking the Cisse river) in Noizay, nestled on clay-limestone soils with flinty clay on chalky limestone bedrock. 

On his journey of becoming a winemaker, Michel immersed himself in the Chenin Blanc variety, learning from experts like François Pinon, Vincent Carême, Damien Delecheneau and many others. Michel produces only dry wines, uncommon within the Vouvray appellation – which he decided to leave from the 2017 vintage. To achieve quality and dryness, Michel strives to only harvest perfectly ripe grapes – unaffected by botrytis. Thus, he picks his plots in multiple ‘batches’ and does a careful sorting before pressing. Much like Richard Leroy, Michel likes to take his time to do long élevage, aging his Chenin for a minimum of two years in barrel and stainless steel under the most ideal conditions of his underground caves dug out of the chalky rock. He also insists on his wines spending another two years in bottles before they end up on the shelves in our store.

Michel is committed to maintaining a modest-sized Domaine of (currently) 3.8 hectares. This deliberate choice allows him to personally oversee every aspect of the winemaking, and develop a profound and intimate connection with the terroir – a path we believe leads to exceptional quality. Over the years, he has fine-tuned an educated, yet intuitive approach to vineyard management, incorporating horse plowing (a necessity on his steeper plots) and certain biodynamic practices.

Michel’s craftsmanship result in pure wines; with elegant fruit, remarkable length, richness, acidity and minerality. 

Photos are from multiple visits dating back to 2020.

Les Enfers Tranquilles

Originating from the sun-drenched south-facing 1.5-hectare lieu-dit in Noizay, aptly named Les Enfers, which translates to “hell” which might refer to how challenging this terroir is to work. Michel tends to 50-year-old vines on “perruches” soil, characterized by flinty clay-limestone composition that is very hard. 

Fermentation is conducted in stainless steel, followed by gentle gravity racking into 4-12 year-old barrels sourced from Vincent Carême. After a year, the wine is transferred to stainless vats, where it rests for an additional 12 months. A hint of sulfur might be added at débourbage and before bottling.

Les Enfers Tranquilles is a testament to terroir, characterized by its tension, crystalline quality, incredible length and balance.

Ciel Rouge

Named in reference to the French saying “Ciel Rouge du Matin, Patouille en Chemin,” which translates to “Red Sky in the Morning, Sailor’s Warning,” this wine is a true reflection of the thick red clay-limestone soils, known as “aubuis,” which tend to become heavy  and sticky when saturated with rain. The parcel is planted with low yielding 80 year old vines. 

Vinification is almost identical to Les Enfers Tranquilles but Ciel Rouge distinguishes itself with a bit more weight and depth, yet it remains equally crystalline and elegant. 

Discover Michel Autran

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