Thomas Batardière is a passionate, unabashed winemaker who comes to the whole arena from a different angle than many other natural vignerons in Anjou. Born in 1980 in Angers, he studied anthropology, but became deeply interested in natural wine in 2008 while working as a filmmaker. Abandoning his previous career, he worked as a sommelier first but was more drawn to winemaking; not long thereafter he decided to work with Mathieu Vallée at Château Yvonne in Saumur. Articulate and thoughtful, Batardière quickly became Mathieu Vallée’s right-hand man, working closely at the domaine while also taking the two-year viticulture course in Beaune.
After three years of being mentored by Vallée, in 2012 Batardière finally began his own project in Rablay-sur-Layon (Maine-et-Loire, Anjou). He started by purchasing a few hectares of the variety with which he has the most affinity—Chenin Blanc—but as he puts it, “without a cave, without a house, without a tractor—just a pruner and those two hectares of vines.” The winery was built in 2014, along with his house, right next door to Richard Leroy, another fine grower in Rablay-sur-Layon with whom Batardière is close. In 2015, all of the vineyards were certified biodynamic by Demeter, a process that Thomas began implementing right away—he’s a committed advocate for this style of holistic farming and doesn’t shy away from its more esoteric dimensions.
Thomas’ vineyard surface area now equals 3.5ha—2.5 Chenin Blanc, .85 Grolleau, and .15 Cabernet Franc. We receive only a small quantity of these luminous wines, as a result, but we are always enchanted by their gentle, mineral, gauzy character—underpinned by deep fruit and a fine robust physical texture in the wines themselves. They are somehow powerful, pretty, and ethereal all at once; it is an atypical expression of Anjou, one that could only come from this intuitive winemaker.