Dry, crisp Sauvignon Blanc is the trademark of Reuilly. Though the appellation also grows Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, creating fruity red and dry rosé wines.
Southeast of Bourges, Reuilly covers over 259 hectares (640 acres) from the banks of the Arnon River to the Cher River. The appellation is located in the Indre and Cher departments and extends over seven villages: Reuilly, Diou, Lazenay, Chéry, Lury, Cerbois and Preuilly. Grapes are grown on moderately steep chalky-marly slopes and on high sandy-gravelly terraces.
Reuilly vineyards are traced back to the early 7th century. King of the Franks, Dagobert I, gave the land that is now known as Reuilly to the Abbey of Saint-Denis. These vineyards supplied wine to the medieval towns of Bourges and Vierzon. The wine was transported by way of the Cher River to the Loire River, where it was shipped as far away as England and Flanders.
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In 1365, the Duke of Berry, son of the King of France, issued a charter governing wine production in Reuilly. The king’s charter fixed the harvesting dates and established a levy on all wines sold. At the end of the 19th century, after the devastated phylloxera vines were replanted, the first producers’ syndicates were created. After a lull, a winemaking revival occurred in the 1980s.
The Vendanges (grape harvest) in Centre-Loire begin between the last week of September and the first week of October, ending the last two weeks of October. It starts with the Pinot Gris harvest in Reuilly and continues with Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Some grapes are still harvested by hand, particularly red grapes, though most are picked with mechanical grape harvesters. The grapes are sent to the modern wine storehouses for processing. In the Centre-Loire, three winemaking methods are employed.
At its most ripe, the harvest is pressed as soon as the grapes arrive. For 12 to 24 hours, the must is racked, before it's placed into a fermentation tank, where it will ferment at a temperature of 64°F. Temperature control allows for longer fermentations, which gives more intense and delicate aromas. Once fermentation is complete, a racking is made to remove the first layer of lees. The wine matures in tanks with a thin layer of lees. The first vintages are bottled between March and September, with some waiting more than a year before being bottled.
After the stems from the ripe grapes are partially or completely removed, the fruit passes through a crusher, then placed into maceration and fermentation tanks. The maceration allows contact with the grape juice and skins, which contain the coloring pigments. Temperatures of 77 °F to 86 °F must be reached in order to fully extract the color. Should there be a cooler-than-normal autumn, the grapes are heated in order to trigger the fermentation process.
To ensure homogeneity and optimum contact of the grape juice and skins, pumping and treading of the must is performed once or twice per day. When the desired color and body have been obtained, the must is drawn off and pressed. The press and free-run juices are then put into tanks or barrels. Once the alcoholic fermentation is complete, the malolactic fermentation begins, which results in a natural loss of acidity. At this point, a first racking is made. Maturing begins, with several additional rackings occurring during the various phases of clarification. The first wines are bottled in spring, while wines matured in oak barrels wait one year before bottling.
Rosé wines are created using a method is known as rosé de pressée. It consists of pressing of the grapes as soon as they are harvested, just as for white wines. There is a short time of contact between the grape juice and the skin, and as a result, the color is lighter. The methods of maturing, stabilization and clarification are the same as those used for white wines.