Charly Foucault of Loire Valley's Revered Clos Rougeard Dies at 66

Co-owner of iconic Saumur-Champigny vineyard pioneered organic viticulture with cult Cabernet Francs
Dec 30, 2015

Jean-Louis "Charly" Foucault, co-owner of Clos Rougeard, the iconic Cabernet Franc vineyard in France's Loire Valley, passed away Dec. 29. He was 66.

"He was passionate about what he did," said his brother, Bernard "Nady" Foucault. Together the brothers formed a talented duo, producing wines from their 25-acre organic vineyard south of Saumur.

"We have always done everything together, since our first vintage together in 1969, the vineyards, the winemaking, the commercialization, setting the price, everything," Nady told Wine Spectator. His older brother had been hospitalized off and on since harvest, and died at the hospital in Angers.

The brothers marked the eighth generation to helm the vineyard, which has been in the their family since at least 1664. A ninth generation will eventually carry the estate forward. "There is the next generation to assure the future," said Nady.

While the brothers have been heralded as pioneers in organic winegrowing, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s, when French vineyards were enduring a period of heavy chemical treatments, Nady said that he and Charly were only continuing the practices established by their father and grandfather.

"We were organic before it was fashionable. Neither my grandfather or father used pesticides or weed killers in the vineyard," said Nady. Their grandfather, a soldier in World War I, had experienced the devastation of chemical warfare, as had their father in World War II. Both men refused to use chemicals out of respect for the vines, soil and people. "There was never a question of using chemical products on the vines."

The estate produces three red wines, each made from distinct plots, 100 percent Cabernet Franc, appellation Saumur-Champigny—Le Clos, Les Poyeux and Le Bourg. They also produce a white Saumur, Le Brézé, 100 percent Chenin Blanc. In a bountiful year, they produce 3,000 cases, selling half in France and half abroad, with a substantial portion going to the United States.

Prized today for the purity of their expression of fruit and terroir, the wines were already highly sought before WWII, when their grandfather supplied his wines to La Tour d'Argent in Paris.

Charly is survived by his wife, Francoise, and their son, Antoine, who owns Domaine du Collier in Saumur.

Obituaries France Loire Valley News

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