Naturally Delicious - the Beautiful Wines of Domaine Tessier and Christian Venier in Cheverny and Domaine des Sablonnettes in Anjou!

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Once again, we feature some of of our favorite estates in the Loire Valley that are legendary for their role in the world of organic and biodynamic viticulture and natural winemaking. These are honest, pure and terroir expressive wines, produced from great farming and vinifications without artifice, bottled with minimal or zero sulfur, 100% delicious!

Domaine Philippe and Simon Tessier

The Romorantins of Domaine Tessier!

Quality at this dynamic estate is sensational every year - our tasting with the Tessiers in France last winter was fabulous - and we are happily taking whatever we can get our hands on, but sadly that's only 6 to 48 btls of each wine. These will sell-out quickly so don't delay! 2022 according to Simon Tessier: The profile of the wines is marked by low acidity and good maturity. We will remember several climatic hazards in 2022: frost, hail and drought. Another stressful year, but this time it turns out on the positive side. The 2022 Chevernys and the Chemin Noir and TOC on offer today show lovely ripeness and retain the fresh and vibrant chaaracter always found in the Tessier's wines. (The 2022 Rosé Is particualrly delicious!) 2021: The spring of 2021 will go down in the annals of viticulture since we have to go back to the disastrous 1991 to find such a proportion of damage to the French vineyard. Happily for us, Romorantin shows well in vintages with low alcohol and high acidity - the 2021 Cour-Cheverys are lean, herbal, mineral, vibrant and wonderful - they will provide great, cereative food pairings. Best to hold them for a few years if possible.

Simon Tessier

The Tessier’s estate covers 26 hectares split between main islands of 5 ha or so each, nothing being more than 1 ½ miles away from the cellar. They have three main soils: a very draining terroir of sand and faluns (a young limestone rich in fossils), easy to work, sensitive to hydric stress, giving the lighter, more fruit-forward wines; some terroir with sands and a different proportion of clay and silt;  and a few plots where the Cretaceous limestone is very close to the top soils, giving deeper wines. All are organically farmed, certified, since 1998 and minimal or zero SO2 is used.  The surface is roughly split 50/50 between the white and the red grapes: 6.5 ha of Romorantin, 5 of Sauvignon, 1 of Chardonnay and some Menu Pineau  For the red they grow 6 ha of Pinot Noir, 4.5 of Gamay, .3 ha of Pineau d’Aunis they planted 13 years ago and some Côt. The Tessiers are particilarly dedicated to the preservation of Romorantin, and make some of the finest examples.

Philippe and Simon Tessier are making soulful wines, true to their terroir.  The wines are both complex and easy to drink which is not easy to achieve. (And they are made more beautifully enjoyable by the minimal or zero use of SO2!)

Christian Venier

Christian Venier is a warm and fuzzy (if he was a Muppet he would be Fozzie) cousin of Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat, whose home and winery is around the corner from Puzelat winery in the lively hamlet of Les Montils.

Man at work! - Christian Venier outside the
legendary pizza and natural wine spot,
Le Brin Folk, in Angers.

He and his incredibly lovely family, sisters, sons, aunts, cousins, all participate in the familial domaine, which produces whites and reds either in the Cheverny AOC or as Vin de France. His Portes Ouvertes in the early Summer is hands down the best party in the Loire Valley! Venier, Puzelat, Villemade, Tessier, Lemasson... these vignerons and vigneron families could be regarded as the originators of the renaissance of the Cheverny appellation, not to mention the Loire Valley natural wine scene. Venier is old school in every way, farming all of the vines without synthetic chemicals, allowing for native yeast fermentation, and aging without temperature control in mostly old barrels, with some tanks. Wines see minimal SO2 addition, and in many cases, zero SO2 added. The wines are not made in a particular style, or fashioned in any set way. They are in some vintages "vins de gard" (wines to age), with robust earthy tones, mineral depth and mature tannins. In other vintages, they are vibrant and bright, with lively aromatics, a little grit, and zippy acidity. Like all REAL wines, they reflect the conditions of the vintage and are not manipulated in any way to fit a mold. The 2022s are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, which reflects the vintage overall in the Loire, with good quantity, more ripeness than 2021, but less stern tannins and earthy tones than 2020 or 2019. We love these 22s and highly recommend the reds. Hopefully we'll get some of the Venier whites later this year... stay tuned!

Domaine des Sablonnettes

Christine and Joel Ménard in Rablay-Sur-Layon are justly famous in France for their superb wines. Although the word "natural" is sometimes abused, in the case of the Ménards, the most positive connotations apply. All of their decisions are made after careful contemplation and in the context of their countless years of experience with their parcels and different grape varieties. They are certified organic and Biodynamic, and vinify without added yeasts, sugars or other "corrections," and their use of sulfur dioxide is minimal, if they use any at all. Long before the phrase "natural wine" existed, the Ménards were making pure and beautiful natural wines, and they have always seemed happy to quietly continue doing so!

Christine, Joel and Jeremy Menard

Auguste Ménard, the first generation of vigneron in the family, was nicknamed Ménard le Rouge for his revolutionary tendencies and his enormous red mustache. Now, his grandson, Jeremy, the son of Christine and Joel, has taken the helm at the estate, and is in charge of winemaking. He has a calm energy about him, and a firm grasp on winemaking, having grown up among the vines that surround their humble home and winery. Walking through the vineyards with him in the winter of 2018, it was clear that he has deeply connected to this plot of land, truly a farmer in his element, albeit sans moustache.

The warm and dry conditions in the summer of 2022 brought beautiful ripeness and supple texture to the wines of Anjou, with some blockage in maturation until mid-August rains, thus alcohol levels are moderate at 11.5 to 12.5% at Sablonnettes. The wines are vibrant and refreshing, but sadly quantities are limited, so stock up while you can! (Please 2 btl max on Zeste)

All wines discount 10% on a case or mixed case. Tessier "Point du Jour" and "Toc" arrive approximately 10/6, all others are in stock, please allow a few days before pick-up or shipping.

No Longer Available

Tessier 2022 Cheverny Blanc

In the western Sologne, Philippe and now his son Simon Tessier are making some of the best example of Cheverny blanc, highly versatile with a lift and an elegance due to the sandy clay soil over limestone.  In 2022 the blend is 70% Sauvignon blanc and rose, 20% Orbois (Menu Pineau), 10% Chardonnay. 2022 was a warm vintage with drought, so this bottling has more texture and glycerol than usual, without loosing its Loire Valley character. Even if the blend is dominated by the Sauvignon, there is no caricatural expression: it is more a variation on grapefruit zest, sage, and white flowers. The flavors on the palate show notes of pear, apple blossom, anis, lemon zest with a nice subtle bitterness. In this vintage, it is definitely more a Fall bottle  than a brisk summery wine, which is perfect! Serve it in a larger glass, let it open for a little bit and serve it with some black sea bass or of course some goat cheese with an arugula salad dressed with halzenut oil. (23 mg/L SO2, 13.5% alc, 1.61 gr/L RS)

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $22.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Tessier 2022 Cheverny Rosé (Pinot Noir, Gamay)

This will disappeaar quickly on your table for Thanksgiving! Philippe and now Simon Tessier are making really delicious wines from their organic vineyards in Sologne. Under the Cheverny AOC, they make white and red, but also rosé : the sandy clay soil as well as the grapes (2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Gamay) are perfectly suited for the style. Of course, don't expect a boring, insipid, pale salmon whitish rosé. There is always some serious depth and length in their wine! With the 2022 as in 2020 and 2019, you have on top more texture and power than usual: the warm summer led to ripe, concentrated berries. - the wine is ripe but bone-dry at 13.5% alc, under .5 gr/L RS. This bottling is more aromatic than usual, with notes of dried rose, pink grapefruit and pomegranate. The attack is creamy and rich, but the wine quickly balances out the alcohol but a really nice bitter edge of pomelo, and the acidity kicks in at the end. It is the type of rosé that can pair really with pretty much anything, and that will have the texture you want when the days will start to be chilly. Serve it in a white wine glass and pair it with what you be pleased to cook, be it some fried squids with spicy aioli, a chana masala or any kind of cheese. (16 gr/L total SO2 - what a pleasure to enjoy a pure and delicious rosé with almost no sulfur!)

  • Out of Stock
  • rosé
  • 0 in stock
  • $23.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Tessier 2022 Cheverny Rouge

(We tasted this wine over 4 days - recorked, in the fridge - it got better and better gaining density and complexity - beautiful wine!) The delicious 2022 Tessier Chevery Rouge is from 15 to 40 year-old vines of 70% Pinot Noir, 25% Gamay and 5% Cot grown in sandy clay soils. Wild yeasts, of course, and aging in old barrels with minimal or zero SO2 added, bottled unfiltered. A bit more Pinot Noir than usual in 2022. The yields were surprisingly good in 2022, but the fruit achieved perfect ripeness in this excellent vintage for Loire reds, showing deep cherry and raspberry with plum, rose, citrus and brown spice. The palate is round, velvety, ripe and vibrantly refreshing with chalky spiced berry fruits, plum skin and mineral flavors, ending with sappy red fruits and bright acidity. Serve quite  cool with charcuterie, chicken and pork dishes and a wide variety of cheeses.  Just delicious! (20 mg/L total SO2, 12.69% alc.)

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $22.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Tessier 2022 Vin de France Chemin Noir (Pineau d'Aunis)

The 2022 "Chemin Noir" is 100% massale selection Pineau d'Aunis (aka Chenin Noir, even though the two grapes are not related). Semi-carbonic fermentation for two weeks or so, then aging in older barrels. In the glass, the wine is a lovely deep cranberry in color. On the nose, there are high-toned floral scents of wild red berries and crisp pomegranate seeds, snappy dark citrus, with a whisper of black pepper. On the palate, bright and juicy cranberry, strawberry, and lean cherry hug a core of enticing minerality. The structure is incredibly refreshing, with great acid and just a touch of tannin - a light grip down the tongue. The finish is a delicious, full of energy, with an ounce of clean, bitter herb. This wine is dangerously drinkable. 12% alc, 0 RS, 26 mg/L SO2.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $25.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Tessier 2021 Cheverny Rouge Le Point du Jour

 Tessier's 2021 "Le Point du Jour" is a beautiful expression of Cheverny, a blend of  20% Gamay and 80% Pinot Noir from the oldest vines of the estate planted on two types of terroir, clay and sand and sandy clay over limestone.  Hand-harvested, the grapes are vinified in 80% whole-cluster, macerated for 2 weeks or so before being aged in a mix of barrels, demi-muids and foudres. Aging was longer this year, the wine was blended in January and bottled in July, unfiltered with minimal sulfur dioxide. With yields of only 15 hl/ha in the frost-damaged 2021 vintage, the wine is light and low in alcohol (12%) and bone-dry, really bright and pretty, showing tart cherry with wild strawberry and pomegranate, hints of cinnamon and almond, and refreshing acidity. Serve cool, enjoy over the next five years.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $28.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Tessier 2022 Vin de France TOC (Cot)

Toc is a pun for Côt, one of the single-variety cuvées made by Simon and Philippe Tessier in their organic estate of Sologne. Côt, or Malbec, is one of the grapes authorised in the Cheverny AOC but as the appellation has to be a blend, the wine is declassified in Vin de France - one of the meanings of Toc in French is "fake stuff."  Vinified like all the other reds in semi-carbonic maceration for 15 days or so, then aged in 500 liter barrique for 8 months, this bottling has a juicy, plush texture balancing really well the natural high acid spine of the variety. Dark purple - the usual colour of Malbec - the 2022 has a lovely bouquet of violet, blueberry,  blackberry liqueur, dried thyme and a pinch of funk. On the palate, the attack is lush and bright, with blackberry and cherry fruit, then the vibrant acidity appears, and plays with the gentle tannins, finishing with terrific length of ripe, chalky fruit. Despite this ripeness it is not heavy at all, but quite refreshing and lively so serve quite cool.  Delicious wine and highly recommended. Probably best if opened the day before and re-corked.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $23.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Tessier 2021 Cour-Cheverny

The 2021 Tessier Cour-Cheverny is 100% Romorantin from vines grown on sandy clay soils over limestone. The wine goes through the malo and is vinified and aged in vats. This is a beautiful Cour-Cheverny showing the leaner profile of the 2021 vintage, with less ripeness than the 2020, with lower alcohol and a more mineral and bright citrus profile. The wine shows distinctive aromas of pear and citrus fruit, lime-flower, toasted almond and hints of spice, really quite lovely. The palate is scintillating and dry with citrus, pear, herbal, stone and nut flavors, with nice ripeness and density and firm refreshing acidity. The finish is very long, with mineral, citrus and pear flavors that linger on the palate. Perfect as an aperitif or serve with full-flavored fish and chicken dishes, Asian foods, and especially with mild cheeses like Morbier or Raclette, or goat cheeses from the Loire. This will be very interesting with 2 to 4 years of cellaring as well. Lovely wine and a great value! 12.5% alc, 0.54 g/l RS, 37 mg/l total SO2.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $27.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Tessier 2021 Cour-Cheverny Les Sables

We're happy to have "les Sables" back in stock, even if it's only a few bottles!  This beautiful, rich but dry Romorantin from Tessier is from 25 to 40 year-old vines on sandy clay soils with silex. The wine ages 10 months in tronconic wooden vats and 5 months in cement and was bottled with minimal SO2. This is a rare and beautiful wine, quite concentrated and incredibly vibrant, with lower alcohol and higher acidity in the very difficult 2021 vintage which gave disastrous yields. The nose is complex, with a lot of pear drops, lime zest, wild flower honey, almond and stone. It is in fact quite aromatic for a Romorantin. On the palate, there is a lot happening, mostly mineral, herbal and citrus flavors and the tangy, acidity has such a backbone. It is really lifted for such a dense wine. Get creative, as this unique wine is a great food pairing for a full-flavered fish or shellfish preparation, or with rabbit and other white meats. We have 6 bottles!? Best to hold for 3 - 5 years. (12.5% alc, 0.54 gr/l RS, 8 mg/l SO2.)

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $28.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Tessier 2020 Cour-Cheverny La Porte Dorée

La Porte Dorée - the Golden Gate - is without a doubt one of the best expressions of dry Romorantin with Hervé Villemade's Les Acacias. This cuvée comes for 80% from a specific vineyard called "Porte Dorée" : there is more clay, the soil is cooler, the limestone is closer. The oldest vines are 60 years old. Because of the late ripeness of this plot, and its concentration, it is always aged in barrels to tame the powerful acidity and help with the aromatic development.  The 2020 "Porte Dorée" is superb, powerful and dry, with firm acidity, showing complex aromas of pear, citrus, lime-flower, white pepper, almond. The palate shows ripe pear, quince, citrus, almond and intense mineral flavors that coat the mouth and are very dense and long. This is a very young wine that will benefit from decanting or 3 to 10 years of cellaring. 14.5% alcohol, 1.46 gr/L RS, 17 gr/L SO2.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $31.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Christian Venier 2022 Cheverny "Les Hauts de Madon" Rouge

We love the Venier 'Hauts de Madon' in 2022. Give or take depending on the vintage, this cuvée is 80% Pinot Noir/20% Gamay, with plenty of trademark Venier spice, almost referencing Languedoc aromatics of thyme and rosemary. If you've had Venier's wines over the years, this vintage is a welcome return to some of the lighter and more vibrant bottlings from the earlier part of this decade, and is truly a "Pur Vin." I do believe it will age very nicely over the next 3-5 years, but we don't necessarily see any dire need to age it past a year since it's so lovely already.  -EL

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $38.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Christian Venier 2022 Cheverny "Le Clos des Carteries"

The cherubic Christian Venier is a cousin of the Puzelat brothers from Clos du Tue Boeuf, and like them, an early proponent of making wines the old fashioned way, without additives or manipulation.  His parcels are meticulously tended, and the wines of the Venier family always have a special vibrancy that I can only ascribe to the magic of the place (or maybe the wild yeast populations in the parcels or cellar). Clos de Carteries is primarily Gamay, from roughly 30 year old vines on clay and limestone with sand and silex. Whole cluster fermentation in open vats for 20 days, followed by 6 months in tank. Violet and floral notes on the nose, great concentration, with subtle peppery notes, and a very graceful finish. It's drinking nicely now, but with the leathery structure that we observed, it should definitely age well too. Of the two Venier reds we have, this is the one to put down for up to 5 years, or to pair with a nice hearty meal this Fall!  ~EL

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $38.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Les Sablonnettes 2022 VDF Le P'tit Blanc

Le P’tit Blanc comes from biodynamically farmed Chenin Blanc vines grown on schist soils in the Coteaux du Layon AOC. The grapes are hand harvested, then the wine undergoes natural fermentation in stainless steel tanks, with around a week of partial skin contact (not to make an orange wine, but to nourish and feed the yeasts and ensure a wine that finishes dry). The wine shows a slightly cloudy pale gold color and aromas of baked apple and pear, a bit of citrus, white pepper, apricot and green tea. The palate is refreshing with brisk acidity with white fruits, lemon zest, apricot and peach with wet stones, and a lovely burst of spicy citrus in the finish. Chenin Unchained! Really unique and delicious. The 2022 is one of the best vintages in a while, stable over several days, with fantastic minerality from the schist terroir playing with the roundness and weight that is at this point a trademark of the wine. Though dry, the density of the wine gives it great versatility. Try it with curries, Thai, anything with some spice, or even salads with balsamic or other high-acid dishes.  //  From the bottle: "Expression commune et populaire pour désigner "le ballon de blanc" qu'on boit sans chichi ni tralala sur le zinc du bistro. Dynamique et rafraichissant, ce vin fera bon vent avec les possions ou autres accords gourmands." Loosely translated: A common and popular expression for the glass of white that we drink at the bar without fuss or 'tralala (razzle-dazzle).' No added SO2. EL/DL

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $18.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Les Sablonnettes 2022 VDF Zeste (Skin Contact/Orange)

This is a new addition to the Sablonnettes lineup, a skin contact (Blanc de Macération) of Chenin Blanc, with subtle peachy hue, and lovely stone fruit on the palate. From the bottle: "Plus aromatique et plus tannique que son p'tit frère (le p'tit blanc), le zeste qui sauve le vigneron!"  Loosely translated: More aromatic and tannic then its little brother (P'tit Blanc), the zest (alternatively, spark) which saves the winemaker! This would be great with marinated and grilled veggies, cheeses, and fish dishes.   -EL (And there's a play on words here borrowed frm the Pierre and Catherine Breton poster of "Epaulé - Jeté, le geste qui sauve les vignerons")

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $29.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Les Sablonnettes 2022 VDF Les Copines Aussi

Les Copines Aussi is a blend of Gamay and Chenin Blanc in 2022. It's joyful, fresh, and just a touch wild, showing the lovely ripeness of the 2022 vintage. Pure and delicious, great with a chill.  From the bottle:  "Les lampions brillent à la guinguette et l'accordeon nous rend polissons. A ouvrir entre copains... et copines. Gouleyant et jovial, ce vin vous invitera à partager le plaisir des petits moments et des grands instants" Loosely translated: The lanterns shine at the tavern, and the accordion makes us mischievous, To open with guy friends... and girl friends. Easygoing and jovial, this wine will invite you to share the pleasure of small moments and great moments.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $20.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Les Sablonnettes 2022 Vin de France Menard le Rouge

From the label: "Millefeuille de cepages rouges de chez nous. Auguste Ménard, premier vigneron de la famille était surnommé 'Ménard Le Rouge' pour son côté révolutionnaire et sa moustache rousse" Roughly translated: A millefeuille (layered pastry) of grapes from our home. Auguste Ménard, the first winemaker of the family, was nicknamed "Ménard the Red" for his revolutionary side, and his red mustache. This is a delicious and unique red that involves grapes being layered in a vat. 2022 was whole cluster Cabernet Sauvignon, Groslot, Cabernet Franc and Gamay. However it was done, the results are delicious!  Drink with a chill!  -EL

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur