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One of our geatest tastings in France last winter was with Stephanie Caslot of Domaine de la Chevalerie in Bourgueil, which included the 2014 and 2015 vintages of each cuvee from this oustanding Biodynamic estate. The 2015s were lovely wines with ripe, complex fruit in a full and failry soft style - they will be delicious when young and for medium-term cellaring. The 2014s, on the other hand, were vibrant, perfectly balanced wines possessing beautiful, deep black fruits, firm, cool acidity and beautiful mineral and earthy flavors, perfectly expressing the terroir of each parcel. In other words, sensational wines that bear a close stylisitc resemblance to the lovely 2014s from Bernard and Matthieu Baudry in Chinon. (Please Note: All wines arrive by October 1st)
2014 began well in Bourgueil and Chinon, with no spring frosts and good weather during the flowering, with a warm month of June developing the fruit. The mid-summer, however was wet and cool with mildew setting in, and by the end of August the vintage looked quuite poor. But as growers often say, "September makes the wine," and in this case a perfect sunny month of September produced grapes with perfect ripeness, bright acidity and tannins that are firm but not overbearing. The 2014s from Domaine de la Chevalerie are simply outstanding and will bring a smile to any lover of Loire Valley reds - I will be putting them all in my crawl-space (not really a cellar) and I suggest that you do the same - you will thank me in five, ten or twenty years!
"Wine has no value unless it is shared" says the Caslot family at Chevalerie. And in fact during our visits to the Salon des Vins de Loire (going back more than 25 years!) we would always stop by the Chevalerie booth, where instead of coats and ties and careful sipping, there would be a crowd of happy drinkers, enjoying the old vintages always offered by the Caslots. I found the wines a bit rustic back then, but with the new generation came organic and biodynamic agriculture and great work in the cellar, producing elegant wines that clearly express the different terroirs of Bourgueil, making this estate one of the leading producers of red wines in the Loire.
A sad note: Pierre Caslot (pictured above) passed away on October 25th 2014, we quote a remembrance in Jim's Loire: "Pierre was a larger than life character, full of fun and generously wanted to share his passion for wine and life itself, conscious that he was part of a 400-year-long family tradition. He lived long enough to know that 2014, his last vintage, would be a good one and to see the harvest finished."
The Chevalerie "Diptyque" is from sand and gravel soils in Bourgueil, producing a wine to drink young, served cool - 100% Cabernet Franc, of course. The 2014 is particularly good, with lovely aromas of black raspberry and strawberry with hints of violet, pepper and earth. The palate is balanced and pretty with supple raspberry/strawberry fruit in a bright frame, typical of this excellent vintage for Loire reds. Serve a bit chilled with charcuterie, chicken and pork dishes and mild cheeses. DL
The Chevalerie "Galichets" vineyard is on mid-slope Turonian limestone with clay and alluvial sand and gravel topsoils, rich in silex; the vines average about 60 years of age - similar to the "Chevalerie" parcel but a bit lower on the slope, giving a wine that is more open and easy for early drinking. The 2015 vintage is excellent, with a bit more ripeness and lower acidity than 2014. This wine is a fabulous mix of fruit and minerals, perfectly balanced and with terrific length: dense black/red color, with aromas that blend soil, stone and blackberry fruit with hints of cocoa and violet. The palate is dense and supple and round - a blend of stone and ripe red and black fruits, continuing in the long, supple mineral finish. This is a beautiful Bourgueil that can be enjoyed now with roast chicken, pork dishes, even a steak - or hold for ten to fifteen years for a mature experience. It's a faulous value - congratulations to the Caslots! David Lillie
We're big fans of the Caslot family at Domane de la Chevalerie, who make soulful Bourgueils from organic/biodynamic vineyards on their superb terroirs. The Chevalerie vineyard is on mid-slope Turonian limestone with clay and alluvial sand and gravel topsoils, rich in silex; the vines average about 60 years of age. 2014 is a superb vintage for the Cuvee Chevalerie which shows a lovely deep red color and fresh ripe black raspberry and cassis with black pepper, stone, prune and roast meat. The palate is well-structued and quite concentrated with complex black fruit liqueur, spice, bitter chocolate, licorice and truffle, with a long finish of sappy fruit and mineral flavors. This is a beautiful Bourgueil of terroir that con be enjoyed now with coq-qu-vin, steak au poivre and grilled lamb, best to wait 3 - 5 years, then drink until 2030 and beyond. Highly recommended. David Lillie
"Busardieres" is a great vineyard fairly high on the slope in Bourgueil on Middle Turonian limestone with shallow topsoils of clay with pebbles of limestone with mica, always giving a wine that is a bit austere in its youth, very mineral and built to age. The 2014 is a superb example that showed sensationally when tasted with Stephanie Caslot in February 2018. Re-tasted in September, the wine shows a deep red/black color with aromas of ripe morello cherry, black raspberry and elderberry, quite deep and meaty with hints of menthol, juniper, dark chocolate and black pepper. The palate shows dense, chalky, ripe black raspberry, cherry and black plum liqueur, beautifully balanced and fresh, with hints of cocoa, citrus peel, humus and minerals with a beautiful finish of bright, sappy fruit and stone flavors. This is a beautiful wine - a bit intense for drinking now, but with a long decant it will be lovely. Best after three to five years, drink till 2035 and beyond. Highly recommended. David Lillie
Stéphanie and Emmanuel Caslot are the current proprietors of this 400 year-old estate in Bourgueil. With excellent parcels on all the varied terroirs of Bourgueil they produce delicious old-school wines with great organic farming and natural vinifications with low sulfur. "Busardières is a great mid-slope parcel on Turonien limestone with clay rich in mica.Tasted in France in February, 2018, the 2009 Busardières showed beautifully, with complex aromas, both primary and maturing, of floral black raspberry with earth, musk , citrus and licorice. The palate shows earthy black-raspberry with cool acidity, plum skin, spice, citrus and mineral flavors, really delightful! A great food wine with a great balance of ripeness and eathy acidity, this is lovely now, in mid-life, and will be superb with ten to fifteen more years in the cellar. Only 60 bottles and only at Chambers Street! David Lillie
Stéphanie, Emmanuel and Pierre Caslot are the current proprietors of this 400 year-old estate in Bourgueil. With excellent parcels on all the varied terroirs of Bourgueil they produce delicious old-school wines with great organic farming and natural vinifications with low sulfur. "Grand Mont" is one of the greatest sites in Bourgueil - a south facing slope on turonian limestone with shallow sandy clay soils, rich in mica. Though not considered a great vintage, the 2011s from the best sites in Bourgueil are turning out beautifully, such as the Breton "Les Perrieres" and the Chevalerie "Grand Mont." Denser and more opulently fruited than the 2012, the 2011 "Grand Mont' shows a deeper, darker color and ripe aromas of blackberry, black plum, violet, earth, game, and blood orange. The palate is round and supple with quite earthy red and black fruits with a lovely finish of dense red fruits, earth and citrusy acids. I would drink this sooner than the 2012 - delicious now with a long decant, best perhaps 2023 - 2030. Beautiful wine. David Lillie
A price reduction from the importer enables us to sell the last two cases at a lower price - take advantage! "Grand Mont" is one of the greatest sites in Bourgueil - a south facing slope on turonian limestone with shallow sandy clay soils, rich in mica. Wines from this vineyard are built to age and this rare bottling from Domaine de la Chevalerie is a beautiful example. 2012 Loire reds are not big wines, but they have lovely bright fruit and are beautifully balanced with refreshing acidity. The 2012 "Grand Mont" shows elegant aromas of black raspberry and strawberry with violet, earth, dark chocolate, citrus and game. The palate shows silky tannins and complex red and black fruits - beautifully balanced with bright acidity and mineral flavors. This is really elegant and Burgundian, very long and built to last. Open the day before if drinking now, this will be a beautiful mature wine. David Lillie