Domaine de la Petite Mairie

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Domaine de la Petite Mairie is owned and managed by Corinne and James Petit, an enthusiastic couple devoted to their little corner of the Loire Valley and its wines so celebrated by Rabelais. They have an uncompromising vision of the expression of the Cabernet Franc grape married to the unique terroir of Bourgueil. This vision is learned, in part, from their long-term relationship with the master of this appellation (and president for many years of the syndicate of growers), Jean Gambier, who is James Petit’s uncle. The Gambier - Petit collaboration is more than just familial as it is Petit who works with Gambier to tend the vineyards and make the wine that originates from the property held for several generations by the Gambier family on the plateau just east of the village of Bourgueil. Now that Jean Gambier has officially “retired”, James Petit capably fills the role of successor, marrying the Gambier holdings in Bourgueil to his own in Ingrandes and Restigné.

The Gambier estate sits on a gentle, south-facing slope that leads to the banks of the Loire. The domaine is known as “Domaine Les Galluches” which is a reference to the rocky, slightly sandy soils that underlie the vineyards around the domaine. Over the centuries, the river has etched out a wide arc leaving behind a swath of sandy gravel and exposing chalk terraces higher up. The limestone pebbles and sandy soil provide excellent drainage and are ideal sites for vine growth. The southerly exposure gives the Cabernet Franc grapes the sun and warmth necessary to fully ripen in this northerly region.

We have worked together with Jean Gambier since the mid-1980s when we were introduced to him by a mutual friend, Dave Goldfarb, an aficionado of the highest order when it comes to the wines of the Touraine. It is a fact of particular note that both Jean Gambier and James Petit reflect in human terms the profound character to be found in the best of the wines of Bourgueil: a quiet pride, great class, complex yet subtle expressions of this compelling terroir.

There is no fuss and needless drama from James Petit. He is a conscientious grower whose handwork in the vineyards is impeccable and falls within the boundaries of the “lutte raisonnée” approach to viticulture. The Cabernet Franc struggles to achieve ripeness and harvest frequently occurs in early October. This long growing season has its benefits: the fruit develops a complexity of flavors and aromas and tannins that are rarely found in wines at this relatively modest price level. We often contend that the Bourgueils from the Gambier – Petit cellars represent some of the finest values in our portfolio.

Petit, as did Gambier, follows traditional vinification techniques. The fermentation and maceration period last for approximately 15 to 18 days. The wines are aged in a mixture of old oak “foudres” and smaller oak barrels, none of which are new. Two reds and a rosé are produced at the domaine and all of the wine is composed entirely of Cabernet Franc. Although quite fine and charming in their youth, the red wines will surprise in their tenacity and their remarkable ability to age and reveal additional elements of their respective personalities.

Petit-Bourgueil-Rose-2007 Bourgueil Rosé: A scintillating dry Rosé made exclusively from the Cabernet Franc grape, this quintessential wine of Bourgueil carries a pale rose color and bristles with the minerality that defines the terroir of this region. Far from simple, it performs a master class at the table with a variety of cuisine and can actually gain complexity with some time in the bottle. There are 2400 bottles set aside for our use in the USA.
Petit-Bourgueil-Tradition-2008 Bourgueil Les Galluches: The cuvée “Les Galluches” is made from a blend of grapes harvested from different parcels, a majority of which are of sandy composition thus yielding a wine of intense aromatics and subtle tannins. This wine is aged in oak “foudres” or large casks for 4 to 6 months, then racked into cement cuves for several more months before bottling. The “Galluches” is a consistently impressive wine that is sophisticated in it subtle complexity and offers impeccable value. We import 3000 bottles per annum (and occasionally put this wine up in magnums).
Petit-Bourgueil-Ronsard-2000 Bourgueil Cuvée Ronsard: The “Cuvée Ronsard” is made from a single vineyard situated on deeper gravels surrounding the Gambier compound that give the wine a more masculine mien, structured yet regal. It begins its life in large old, oak foudres but receives additional ageing in small, older oak barrels for 6 to 9 months before being bottled some 18 to 20 months after harvest. A wine of exceptional complexity, the “Ronsard” benefits from significant aging. We have had the pleasure of drinking the 1959 with Messrs. Gambier and Petit at a fine lunch of braised sanglier some 50 years after its birth. We have the privilege of importing 1800 bottles plus some magnums annually.
butte-de-tyron-label-2014 Butte de Tyron: James and Corinne Petit recently gained access to a superbly situated one-hectare parcel in the Bourgueil appellation called “Butte de Tyron”—and, beginning with the 2014 vintage, this lot will be bottled as a separate cuvee exclusively for Rosenthal Wine Merchant.  We take proud possession of the “Butte de Tyron” as the quintessence of Bourgueil, an expression of the charm and, yes, the seriousness of the finest examples of this appellation.  This 2014 Butte de Tyron is fermented in stainless steel without temperature regulation and aged in 60-year-old foudres of 50-hectoliter capacity, it was bottled unfined and unfiltered a year and a half after harvest. Furthermore, the grapes for the Butte de Tyron were picked by hand—actually quite a rare practice today in Bourgueil, an appellation where both land and wine are inexpensive, and where growers tend to prioritize volume and commercial viability over ideological rigor.    This first release should arrive in New York mid-November.
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