The sunny Brive hills are an ideal spot for vineyards. Grapevines have been growing on the Allassac and Voutezac hillsides since the 6th century. The first golden age of wine production occurred in the 12th and 13th centuries. Many of Limousin’s abbeys owned land in the Brive basin to supply themselves with wine. In the 17th century, wine-production became the area’s main source of income. Its second golden age occurred in the 19th century: entire villages were dedicated to wine growing until the 1876 phylloxera infestation, which destroyed almost every single vine stock. Grape-farmers rapidly turned to growing early fruit and vegetables such as plums, cherries, green beans and peas. They also began to work in the area’s slate quarries, an activity which was in full expansion at the time. Nowadays, vineyards have been replanted at Le Saillant, thanks to a few wine enthusiasts. The industry is organized by a wine-growing cooperative.
Let’s see how Le Saillant wine growers work.
« The area’s main wine-growing characteristics come from its soil : its vertical schist terrains enable vines to reach deep down into their roots, preventing drought. Le Saillant soil is similar to soil in areas such as Anjou, in the north west of France. Another characteristic that is typical of the area, is that the schistic hills we have here are west to south-west oriented, which is an ideal location for vineyards. They are extremely well ventilated as you can see, which is extremely necessary for vineyards.
The wine we grow here is mainly white. That is normal for schistic hills. They are generally more adapted for white wine than for red wine. We produce a lot of Chenin, Chardonnay and Sauvignon here. Those are the three varieties of grapes we plant here, because they are the most successful types.»