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For many years, our tastings with Philippe Tessier have been among the highlights of our winter trip to France, particularly his superb cuvées of Romorantin and his vibrant reds made with Pinot Noir, Gamay and Cot. And we're very happy to offer the estate's first red from Pineau d'Aunis, the 2018 "Chemin Noir," a delightlfully juicy wine from this great vintage in the Loire. Unfortunately, after losing 3/4 of their crop in 2016 and 2017 to frost, the Tessiers lost 50% of the wonderful 2018s to mildew attacks in the early summer (a devasting problem for organic growers throughout France) which means that our allocation of these unique wines is tiny, with availabilities of 12 to 48 bottles of each wine.
Domaine Tessier possesses a large portion of the world's Romorantin vines with a whopping 6 hectares! They produce two dry wines, including the 2017 Cour-Cheverny offered today; a rare and beautiful off-dry wine from very old vines, "La Porte D'Orée," and a superb late-harvest wine, the "Cuvée Roger Tessier." This is also from old vines, the 2015 containing 37 grams of residual sugar - it's a complex and profound moelleux which is delicious now and will age beautifully for twenty years or more.
The estate was created by Roger Tessier in 1961, with his son Philippe taking over in 1981. Organic since 1998, and certified since 2003, the estate covers 22 hectares and produces Cour-Cheverny, from Romorantin, as well as Cheverny and Vin de France from Gamay, Pinot Noir, Pineau d'Aunis and Côt for the reds, and Sauvignon Blanc with Chardonnay and Menu Pineau for the whites. The estate maintains living soils with diverse flora and fauna; harvesting is by hand and fermentations are with wild yeasts with no addition of sulfur. (A small amount of sulfur is added at blending or bottling, depending on the vintage and wine.) In the words of Philippe Tessier: "A wine should be the expression of the place where it was produced, a reflection of the climatic conditions of the year and -- a little -- of the vigneron who produced it, all respecting the life of the soil and the environment. It should give pleasure and above all should be healthy, alive and invigorating - a natural wine." (The levels of added SO2 are very low here, even for the late harvest Romorantins, with the Chevernys receiving approximately 10 to 15 mg per liter)
These are delightful natural wines that are a joy to drink and will be perfect accompaniments to summer cuisine - we urge you to try them all!
**** JOIN Eben Lillie at RACINES NY this TUESDAY, JULY 9th, from 6-9PM to TASTE SELECTIONS FROM THE TESSIER LINE UP! ****
The lovely 2018 Tessier Cheverny Blanc is 80% Sauvignon Blanc with 10 % each of Menu Pineau and Chardonnay, farmed organically since 1998 and made with minmal SO2. Aromatically, there are a lot of textbook Sauv Blanc notes, but is still far from the intensely grassy and tropical, lychee-driven aromatics of many a yeasted Sauvignon across the globe. What the Cheverny Blanc also has is a bit of texture. It's refreshing, but also broad in the mouth, evolving quite a bit as it's open. It's a wine that will disappear quickly thanks to it's crisp drinkability, but will also reward those who take a moment to pay attention.
The 2015 "Roger Tessier" is a super Moelleux Romorantin, at 37 grams RS per liter, showing fabulous aromas and flavors of white fruits, citrus peel, melon, hay, almond... Just a beautiful wine, a rare and delicious example of Romorantin!
Always a treat, this year's iteration of the Tessier rosé is a bit darker than the 2017, which was all Pineau D'Aunis. This time around, it's a blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir, with more concentrated fruit than the pale and subtle 2017, but the essential backbone of minerality and fresh acidity is there. Flavors of Ocean Spray Cranberry, and a bit of hibiscus, and wet stones. With fried, grilled and otherwise salty foods, this should be perfect!
A new offering from the Tessiers, 100% Pineau D'Aunis. The name is a reference to the lesser known name for Pineau D'Aunis, Chenin Noir. Philippe planted the vines 7 years ago and had problems with weather in the first few years of potential production, so this is the first time the red was made. Still young, and showing some volatile acidity (that should be less present with 6 or more months in the bottle) there are darker fruit notes than we usually expect from Pineau D'Aunis. There's not as much bright red fruit here, but nonetheless a very expressive nose, with spice, and notes of crushed violets. We're looking forward to trying this once it's been stateside for a bit.
The 2017 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 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 drink beautifully over the next three to five years. Lovely wine and a great value! David Lillie
"La Porte Dorée" is from 40 to 90 year-old Romorantin vines grown on clay soils with limestone bedrock. The juice undergoes a long, slow alcoholic fermentation and malolactic fermentation, and the wine ages in old foudres and barriques. Minimal SO2 is added before bottling. This is a very young wine that will benefit from decanting or 3 to 10 years of cellaring. Serve now with fish or chicken in a cream sauce and with a wide variety of full-flavored cheeses. Lovely wine!
The delicious 2018 Tessier Chevery Rouge is from 15 to 40 year-old vines of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Cot grown in sandy clay soils. Wild yeasts, of course, and aging in old barrels with minimal SO2 added, bottled unfiltered. The yields were low again in 2018, but the fruit achieved perfect ripeness in this excellent vintage, showing deep cherry and raspberry with plum, rose, citrus and brown spice. The palate is round, ripe and refreshing with chalky spiced berry fruits, plum skin and mineral flavors, ending with sappy red fruits and firm acidity. Serve cool with charcuterie, chicken and pork dishes and a wide variety of cheeses. David Lillie
The Tessier Cheverny Rouge "Le Point du Jour" is made from Pinot Noir and Gamay grown on an east-facing slope of clay/limestone soils. The wine shows lovely ripe aromas of black raspberry, blackberry and spice with violet and citrus. There is a lovely melange of black fruits on the palate that is lush and round but still quite fresh with good density and length. Serve quite cool with charcuterie, grilled meats and mild cheeses - great on a picnic or summer cookout, drink over the next three or four years. David Lillie