In the early part of the 20th century, most of Vouvray (like much of viticultural France) was worked by farmers in polyculture. Cows, sheep, and grain were raised alongside vines. Such was the case for the land belonging to Lionel and Francoise Gauthier, the owners of Domaine du Viking. Francoise’s grandparents owned just 2 hectares of vines in the early 1940’s along with animals and cereals. Winemaking was something that was done for family and local consumption. All of that changed on August 11, 1944 when Francoise’s grandfather, Maurice, was killed by Nazi soldiers after being caught trying to blow up some train tracks. His young son, Francoise’s father, was suddenly in charge and in an effort to keep the family afloat, converted all of the land into vineyards. The rest, as they say, is history. DOMAINE DU VIKING Most of Lionel and Francoise’s 13 hectares are not on the famous chalk (tuffeau) soils that make up over 90% of Vouvray but on the hard silex soils of the northern tip of the appellation. This silex produces crisp, mineral, and long-aging Vouvrays that bring to mind great Riesling. The style chez Le Viking (as he refers to himself with only a small degree of irony) is called sec tendre. This “tender dry” style allows for the sugar levels of a demi-sec but with the acidity level of a great Sancerre or Chablis. If you’re into Riesling, you’re probably going to like this style.