Of Canadian and Japanese origins, it was a desire to discover the Loire and winegrowing beyond their borders that pushed Mai and Kenji to France in 2009, at Mark Angeli's. A few years later they set up their own small estate in Rablay-sur-Layon and it is quickly well beyond their new borders that their work is recognised...
|Cultivated grapes||Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Grolleau|
|Our favorites||Faia, Ô Galarneau|
Of Canadian and Japanese descent, it was in 2009 that Kenji and Mai Hodgson decided to leave Vancouver, for France, with a "working holiday" visa in their pocket and a question on their mind... "Why are French wines so good?!" Nearly 10 years later, Kenji and Mai are self-employed, in Rablay-sur-Layon, and judging by the quality of their own wines, they seem to have found the answer to their question!
Trained in Japan, in a small estate, where he was introduced to natural wine, Kenji worked back in Canada in a larger structure and struggled to realise his dream of starting up his own vineyard... When they arrived in France, with his wife Mai, they harvested at Mark Angeli's in Anjou, and it was Angeli who helped them buy their first hectare of Grolleau in Rablay-sur-Layon in 2010. In 2011, they will buy 3 hectares, mainly of Chenin Blanc, while continuing to work for winemakers in the region, notably Benoît Courault and the Mosse family.
Today they have some 4 hectares of vines, after a few changes, sales, buy-outs, leases, they have found their balance and, like their neighbour Thomas Batardière, do not wish to expand, 4 hectares already occupy the couple who work as respectfully as possible in the vineyard. Soils mixing schist, sandstone and spilite, stretching from Rablay sur Layon to Faye d'Anjou.
All the work in the vineyard is done as naturally as possible, Kenji and Mai being resolutely committed to organic and manual work after their various experiences... passion and dedication pay off, the vines are magnificent and breathe life, the same energy that we find in their wines, so singular.
The vinification takes place in the cellar next to their house, in the heart of the village of Rablay-sur-Layon, again in the most natural way possible, with Mai and Kenji accompanying the wines without any superfluous interventions. The wine is made in the vineyard, not in the cellar, 100% grape juice, no yeast, no additives, no fining or filtration. An artisanal process to the end.
Precious vintages, author's wines and a real goldsmith's work to discover...
A sentence Kenji uttered during our first visit still rings true when we drink his wines: "We seek to understand the terroir, and the vine. And we believe that this requires a constant presence in the vineyards, to make decisions that will assist nature, and to take care of the soil, and the plants..."
Not there to intervene, not there to decide, not there to impose. The work of Kenji and Mai is a magnificent humility that is transmitted in each sip of their precious beverages...