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Located south of the city of Nantes in the foothills of the Massif Armoricain, the Fiefs Vendéens is part of the larger Pays Nantais region in the western Loire. While the Pays Nantais is primarily known for its Muscadet wines made from Melon de Bourgogne, the Fiefs Vendéens offers a diverse mix of grape varieties grown on complex soils comprised of various metamorphic rocks. Five wine-growing zones make up the Fiefs Vendéens, including Chantonnay, where the Orion family has been growing grapes and making wine since 1978. Philippe Orion founded Domaine de la Barbinière with just 2ha of vines, but over the years, the domaine has expanded to nearly 30ha, with vines planted on a vast array of soils, including clay-limestone, grey and red schists, gneiss, orthogneiss, amphibolite, and silex. Chantonnay offers such a broad range of soils due to a carboniferous fault that runs through the area. Philippe’s sons, Alban and Vincent, joined the family domaine in 2005, and since 2015 the vineyards have been certified organic. Unlike many producers in the region, harvest is done entirely by hand, and the wines are all fermented spontaneously with indigenous yeasts. Most of the cuvées are vinified and aged in stainless steel tanks, with a few of the lieu-dits seeing used barrel. The range of white wines showcases Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay in a way that’s entirely different from other regions thanks to the distinctive soils and influence of the Atlantic. The reds, too, offer a unique expression of the grapes that form the blends, allowing Cabernet Franc to shine, with Gamay and Pinot Noir adding depth and freshness and Négrette rounding things out with a peppery spice. The signature of these special soils is always present throughout the line-up, showcasing a real sense of place that can only come from Chantonnay.