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We have loved the wines of Catherine and Pierre Breton since a visit in 1985, just as they were taking over the estate, and we are extremely happy to have a full selection of their beautiful wines back on the shelves at Chambers Street! Domaine Breton has played a major role in the Loire Valley as their early conversion to organic and Biodynamic farming, their natural vinifications and the outgoing personalities of Catherine and Pierre have contributed enormously to the spread of better farming and winemaking in the region and beyond.
The new generation, son Paul and daughter France, are bringing new energy and new wines to this historically important and dynamic estate, including new emphasis on Catherine's family parcels in Vouvray. The classic Bourgueils on offer today, "Les Perrières" and "Clos Sénéchal" are among the very finest wines of the Loire, bringing an elegant, less extracted expression of the great clay/limestone terroir, which is beautifully revealed with ten to thirty years of aging.
A few details about the estate and their methods:
Organic and biodynamic farming since 1990; manual harvesting in small baskets; natural vinifications - wild yeast fermentations with zero additives, with minimal or zero SO2 added before bottling ("To succeed in wine, as in life, one must live dangerously" - Jules Chauvet); a high percentage of old vines which are replaced by massale selection; wines age in used barriques, foudres or concrete "eggs."
The Bretons' "Les Perrières" is one of the most beautiful red wines of the Loire. From 70 year-old vines in a great mid-slope parcel with sandy clay on the surface, then clay and limestone tuffeau below. The wine's excellence comes from the Bretons' long experience with this parcel, allowing for great terroir expression and ageability.
Although "Les Perrières" is considered their "best" wine, we have sometimes preferred the elegant and ageworthy wines of the mid-slope, south-facing vineyard "Clos Sénéchal." This parcel is on a great terroir east of Benais where the topsoil is a limestone clay mix (specifically "argile éolienne") over the Turonian limestone. Here the lack of gravel and sand in the topsoil produces a wine which is a bit more austere than other Bourgueils, but which possesses a remarkable purity of fruit with elegant, silky tannins, making it enjoyable as a young wine with a remarkable ability to age in a Burgundian style.The vines are 35 to 50 years old. The grapes are hand-harvested into 20 kilo crates and the alcoholic fermentation takes roughly three weeks, during which no SO2 is added. The wine is aged two years in used Grenier foudres with minimal SO2 added before bottling.
First made in 2002, the 2018 Bourgueil "Nuits D'Ivresse" is a blend from different clay/limestone parcels made with zero added SO2 and is always a favorite at Chambers Street. The malo and two year elevage is done in two year-old barriques. "It's a search for purity of fruit according to the principles of Jules Chauvet, a wine of 'Pure Origine' without chemical additives." A great success in this vintage, the wine is absolutely gorgeous, a testament to the great organic and biodynamic farming and natural winemaking at Domaine Breton. Don't miss it!
Over the last 30 years, the Bretons have made a series of superb Chinons from rented parcels, including a brilliant "Les Picasses" (last made in 2004) and a beautifully earthy and well-structured "Saint Louans." The current offering is "Les Beaux Monts," from a high parcel in the commune of Beaumont on classic clay/limestone soils, which is relatively forward and delicious as a young wine and also benefits from ten years or more in the cellar.
The cuvée "Trinch" - the joyful sound of glasses clinking - is made for pure youthful enjoyment. This delicious Bourgueil is from young vines on clay and gravel soils over limestone, harvested by hand into small baskets and vinified to extract the primary aromas. Year after year it is the very picture of a classic bistro wine. It's all about freshness, black fruit and flowers and minerality.
Catherine's family also has Chenin Blanc vines in Vouvray on clay/silex soils in the commune of Vernou-sur-Brenne, not far from Domain Pinon. The Bretons now produce three still wines and two sparkling wines from these grapes, including "La Dilettante" a Champagne-method Vouvray Brut that our tasting panel loved - "brilliant and racy Chenin, marked with lime and pear and intensely mineral at the core. The bubbles are very delicate and fine and the overall feeling of energy and tension is impressive"
From the pure pleasure of "Trinch" to the profound and age-worthy "Les Perrières, these are outstanding wines that belong on your table and in your cellar. (We'll be enjoying a 2002 "Clos Sénéchal" on my wife's birthday this summer - can't wait!)
Wines arrive 4/19, please allow additional days for pick-up or shipping.
The Bretons "Les Perrières" is one of the most beautiful red wines of the Loire. From 70 year-old vines in a great mid-slope parcel with sandy clay on the surface, then clay and limestone tuffeau below. The wine's excellence wine comes from the Bretons long experience with this parcel, their 30 years of organic and biodynamic farming and a masterful vinification and élevage, with minimal SO2, which allows great terroir expression and ageability. Some details: Hand harvested into small boxes; 7 day cool maceration, wild yeast fermentation in Grenier oak vat without addition of SO2, progressively warmer over 15 - 24 days; no chaptalization, minimal extraction; aged in used barrels for two years with one racking; bottled after 2 1/2 years on a "flower" day. Always my favorite of the Breton reds, this is consistently brilliant and ageworthy (at the end of a visit years ago, Catherine handed me a bottle of the '85 to drink with dinner that night - it was GREAT). This 2015 is one to look forward to. The classic dark fruit and dried violet petal profile is underscored by wet river stones and salty chalky notes and firm tannic structure that bodes well for many years to come. Sam Ehrlich
The Clos Sénéchal is a south-facing mid-slope vineyard, with soils of clay and limestone over the Turonian limestone bedrock, in organic and biodynamic farming since 1990. The vines are 35 to 50 years old, replaced slowly by massale selection. The grapes are hand-harvested into 20 kilo crates, there is a three-week alcoholic fermentation with wild yeasts, no added SO2. Two year elevage in Grenier foudres with minimal SO2 added before bottling (approx 20mg/l). This is always one of the my favorite Loire reds - the 2017 is remarkably open at the moment, the plum and black cherry fruit feeling especially juicy and alive. The deep mineral component that makes this wine special is on full display and there is real snap and energy here. This has many years ahead of it but unlike some previous vintages, you won't be left feeling like you've missed out. Sam Ehrlich
From old vines of Cabernet Franc on the clay/limestone upper slopes in Benais (Grandmont) and Restigné (Le Peu Muleu), it is fermented, aged and bottled without the use of sulfur dioxide, according to the winemaking principles of Jules Chauvet. Picture perfect Bourgueil, with crisp red and black fruit and violet notes, bordered by cool stony freshness. The texture is silky, with just enough tannic hold to cut through perfect roast chicken. So good. Sam Ehrlich
The Bretons make this beautiful Chinon from a clay/limestone parcel on high ground in Beaumont, just west of the town of Chinon. Picked by hand into small crates, the grapes are de-stemmed and undergo a 3-week fermentation with no additives, the wine is aged for one year in tronconic Grenier foudre, and is bottled with minimal added SO2. This is very fine, with burnished red fruit and salty, iron-rich meaty notes. There is plenty of acidity - this sits up and looks straight ahead, bolstered by great phenolic intensity. Really nice wine. Sam Ehrlich
This delicious Bourgueil is from young vines on clay and gravel soils over limestone, harvested by hand into small baskets and vinified to extract the primary aromas.This wine is as close to a sure thing as I know - year after year it is the very picture of a classic bistro wine. It's all about freshness, black fruit and flowers and minerality. It will never be as grand as Clos Senechal and as purely rock-y as Perrieres but it is never anything less than satisfying. Sam Ehrlich
The beautiful Vouvray Brut "La Dilettante" from Catherine and Pierre Breton is a Champagne method sparkling wine made from 100% Chenin Blanc grown on clay/silex/limestone soils in the commune of Vernou-sur-Brenne. This was a crowd favorite yesterday when we tasted the wines. Brilliant and racy Chenin, marked with lime and pear and intensely mineral at the core. The bubbles are very delicate and fine and the overall feeling of energy and tension is impressive. This is outstanding. Sam Ehrlich