Tasting the new releases at La Ferme de la Sansonnière in December 2019. PL.

The beautiful, revered wines of true peasant-vignerons, Mark & Martial Angeli and Bruno Ciofi from La Ferme de la Sansonnière

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Pascaline Lepeltier, MS (Photo: Eric Medsker)

(NOTE: is now a laureate of “Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France - Sommellerie” and Best French SomChambers Street Wines is extremely proud to present this article by our good friend and neighbor at Racines NY, Pascaline Lepeltier. In 2014, Pascaline passed the Master Sommelier Diploma, and in 2018, she won 2 more major titles in her homeland: shemelier 2018. In January 2019, the famous French magazine La Revue du Vin de France awarded her “Personality of the Year 2019”, the first woman to be given this prestigious recognition. As a Managing Partner at Racines NY, Ms Lepeltier, in collaboration with the brilliant chef Diego Moya and Sommelier Arnaud Tronche, has established Racines as one of the premier cuisine and wine destinations of the US. While the restaurant is closed, Ms. Lepeltier will be a regular contributor to these pages, presenting some of her favorite wines and winemakers from France and beyond. Stay tuned!)

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Mark Angeli is a paysan-vigneron, and an ecological activist. If one character can embody the wine revolution that is happening in the Loire, and more specifically in Anjou, he is without a doubt a serious contender. And his wines are also snapped up all around the world, true unicorns - ironically the symbol of the estate. We are very pleased to offer today a large offering of the main cuvées of this estate, including back vintages! 

From right to left, Mark (in the shadow), Bruno, Martial
and Anthony Robin (Clos Frémur). PL.

 

A chemistry student turned stonemason, Mark fell for wine, changed career and moved to Anjou, in 1989 in search of affordable lands to develop his ideal vision of agriculture. In the schistous foothills of the noble rot heaven, Bonnezeaux, he luckily stumbled upon the Ferme de La Sansonnière, an historic and polycultural property, then selling conventional wines to the local supermarkets, that was for sale. He jumped on the opportunity, and right away converted the farm to Biodynamics (he became an adept after his training at La Tour Blanche in Bordeaux.) He also restored the house himself.


 

La Lune, aging. PL.

Biodynamic farming was quite a revolution at that time for the area. The support was few, the opposition and threats strong, and after years of refusal of AOCs’ agreements, despite producing some of the best, most praised, unchaptalized wines of the region, Mark decided in 2007 to stop claiming the Anjou, Coteaux du Layon or Bonnezeaux appellations. He moved everything to Vin de France. A deep believer in terroir, he could not be part of the hypocrisy of the other conventional producers over-cropping and overusing chemicals and oenological tricks (chaptalization and selected yeasts especially) while killing their soils and abusing consumers. To protest even more, he started to list the ingredients on the label and he shifted his best Chenin plots from sweet to dry and half-dry production, something unheard of in the region. But Mark knew also that the revolution could not happen alone, and early on he actively became a mentor and helped like-minded (young) vignerons to successfully start their estates. The more the better to realize the socio-ecological revolution!

One of the La Lune parcels, in crescent shape. Photo: Martial Angeli

If the wines have been brilliant benchmarks for Chenin on schist, they are reaching today a new level thanks to the energetic return of Martial, Mark’s son and the arrival of Bruno Ciofi, ex-manager of Domaine de la Pinte in the Jura. More than ever, the trio of farmer-peasants is experimenting with agroforestry, regenerative farming, ungrafted vines, gobelet and echalas pruning, rehabilitation of forgotten varieties (like grolleau blanc), amphora and homeopathic uses of volcanic sulfur. They farm currently 7.5 ha of mostly chenin and a little grolleau (blanc, gris and noir), surrounded by fields for horses, sheep, beehives, cows, cartham (for the oil), wheat (for the flour), fruit trees (for biodiversity and delicious juices). 

Agroforestry with young vines grolleau on échalas. PL 

 

Mark has been a mentor for me since I started; Martial and Bruno also became dear friends. All have a terrific sense of cold humor that makes the tastings quite entertaining. I asked them to tell us in their own words a little more about the classic spring releases of the domain, La Lune 2018 and Rosé d’Un Jour 2019. Here is some news from la Sansonnière, where the spring is blossoming, everyone is safe, and so far the frost nor the mildew haven’t damaged the vineyards like the previous years.

 

(Wines arrive Tuesday 4/21 - we are short-staffed - please allow 3 to 5 days for processing)

No Longer Available

Sansonnière (Mark Angéli) 2018 Vin de France La Lune

Geology in our beloved region of Anjou is the most complicated in the world. The soil is different every 20 meters, ranging from - 10 million to - 1 billion B.C. ! That’s why we decided in 1997 to blend many different tiny plots in one cuvée, La Lune. The other bigger plots were kept separated : Les Fouchardes, Les Vieilles Vignes des Blanderies or Coteau du Houet. The name La Lune was chosen by our former worker, Stéphane Bernaudeau (who has since joined the little world of exceptional wine growers), because of the crescent shape of the ranks : they look like the moon! We quickly discovered soon La Lune, compared to the other wines, could be an “immediate drinking” cuvée, not very much affected by the bottling. Of course it could also be kept 30 years and more, like the single-vineyard cuvées. Minerality is maybe just a little less defined - probably because of the soil diversity. However, we consider it a benchmark for the region, showing the taste of the area without overthinking the individuality of all the different plots. Mark & Martial Angeli, Bruno Ciofi.  Badly hit by the mildew and the frost, the vines produced barely 10hl/ha, giving a lot of concentration to all the wines. Yet for the first time in a couple of vintages, the 2018 Lune is almost dry, and it is a superb expression of the cuvée. Mirabelle and peach pit on the nose, the palate is dense, plummy, with a salty core. The quinine notes gives a lot of length. Enjoy it with spring pea gazpacho, a fluke tartare, bergamot and castelvetrano olive oil or a fourme d’ambert.  3g RS, 44 ppm total of volcanic sulfur. Pascaline Lepeltier.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $48.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Sansonnière (Mark Angéli) 2018 Vin de France La Lune 1.5 L

 Badly hit by the mildew and the frost, the vines produced barely 10hl/ha, giving a lot of concentration to all the wines. Yet for the first time in a couple of vintages, the 2018 Lune is almost dry, and it is a superb expression of the cuvée. Mirabelle and peach pit on the nose, the palate is dense, plummy, with a salty core. The quinine notes gives a lot of length. Enjoy it with spring pea gazpacho, a fluke tartare, bergamot and castelvetrano olive oil or a fourme d’ambert. 3g RS, 44 ppm total of volcanic sulfur. Pascaline Lepeltier.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $99.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Sansonnière (Mark Angéli) 2018 Vin de France La Lune Amphores

Geology in our beloved region of Anjou is the most complicated in the world. The soil is different every 20 meters, ranging from - 10 million to - 1 billion B.C.! That’s why we decided in 1997 to blend many different tiny plots in one cuvée, La Lune. The other bigger plots were kept separated: Les Fouchardes, Les Vieilles Vignes des Blanderies or Coteau du Houet. The name La Lune was chosen by our former worker, Stéphane Bernaudeau (who has since joined the little world of exceptional wine growers), because of the crescent shape of the ranks: they look like the moon! We quickly discovered soon that La Lune, compared to the other wines, could be an “immediate drinking” cuvée, not very much affected by the bottling. Of course it could also be kept 30 years and more, like the single-vineyard cuvées. Minerality is maybe just a little less defined - probably because of the soil diversity. However, we consider it a benchmark for the region, showing the taste of the area without overthinking the individuality of all the different plots. Mark & Martial Angeli, Bruno Ciofi.  Since 2013, Mark, Martial and Bruno are producing a small part of La Lune in 1000 litre buried amphoras. First using clay they decided to switch to 100% grès (sandstone), preferring the cleaner definition both in texture and aromas. Usually more restrained, the 2018 is very giving and aromatic, more floral and less fruit-forward than the regular cuvée. The finish is also more precise, as the palate is showing drier, with great, pear-skin like tannins. A fantastic pairing with roasted scallops with lemon butter, or veal tenderloin, morels and cream.  4g RS, 38 ppm total of volcanic sulfur. Pascaline Lepeltier.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $49.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Sansonnière (Mark Angéli) 2017 Vin de France Les Fouchardes

The Fouchardes vineyard is a small, 0.5 ha vineyard, mid-slope on La Montagne, one of the three hills of Bonnezeaux. Part of this area is also known as Coteau du Houet (a name Mark used when he was still bottling his Bonnezeaux.). It is a very rare, complex mix of deep red sands and clay over schistes gréseux, with two very distinct areas : the top has more carboniferous schist leading to an earlier picking, while the bottom with heavier clay is harvested ten days later, and because of the coldness of the clay, never has dew thus never develops noble rot. It is an important plot for Mark as this is where he started to experiment with head-pruning, now a technique applied everywhere. The 40 year-old vines - and a couple of young ungrafted ones too now - produce the broadest, densest dry chenin of the estate, with a broader attack and mid palate. Often very aromatic, this cuvée is the one needing the most time to get its textural definition (5 years or so are often necessary). It is more a tannic-alcohol driven chenin than a salt-acid driven, like the Vieilles Vignes. Both are vinified and aged in larger barrels, usually for 24 months or so. The trio would like them to be dry, but it is getting harder and harder with climate changes. They go through malo, without affecting the remarkable tension of the wines. 2017 was an early picked vintage, due to the summer heat: right now the wine is showing a lot of marzipan, wax and speculoos notes, with a slight sensation of sugar. Open it with slow-roasted honey-glazed pork or a squash risotto, but don’t hesitate to cellar it for 15 years and more.  4g RS, 42 ppm total of volcanic sulfur. Pascaline Lepeltier.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $66.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Sansonnière (Mark Angéli) 2017 Vin de France Vieilles Vignes Blanderies

Slightly higher on the slope of the La Montagne hill, you will find the old vines of the Ferme de la Sansonnière, planted just after World War II (1949) with older massal selections of chenin. There are two main soils there. One, extremely rare for the region is a vein of sedimentary phtanite, mostly composed of silica, giving amazing passerillage with extreme low pH. The other part is part of the most common St George series of superficial schists. The viticulture and winemaking is the same than the Fouchardes - whole cluster press in Coquard, vinification in larger used barrels mostly from Atelier Centre France in the underground cellar, 24 months usually of aging with spontaneous fermentation, trying to arrive to dryness in order to avoid filtration. 2017 gave a broader, pastry-like expression of the cuvée, but you can still the salty-acid backbone of the wines, and it is showing more reduction notes than the 2017 Fouchardes. Reminding me of a poached crabapple (tangy, floral, slightly bitter) on the attack, the wine becomes way saltier as you are enjoying it. You need noble flesh - lobster, veal, guinea hen - to enhance it, but be careful not to bring too much sweetness in the dish, just a hint. A Bleu de Gex or a Bohemian Blue will do it too. It can also be kept for 15 years and more. 4g RS, 45 ppm total of volcanic sulfur. Pascaline Lepeltier. 

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $71.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Sansonnière (Mark Angéli) 2019 Vin de France Rosé d'un Jour

The story of the Rosé d’un Jour is amazing. The first vintage 1997 was the best ever produced because Nature decided to give us a wink: the weather was very sunny during harvest, allowing to choose our picking date, so we decided to start with Chenin, and wait for the Grolleau Gris (previously made as a dry white with little interest.) When we went back, the grapes were passerillées, with a potential of 14.5%. We picked them with no idea what to do with them, as we didn’t know about the traditional off-dry rosé: grolleau was a disgraced grape for this style because of its low-yielding (25 hl/ha) when passerillé, opposite to cabernet franc (which gave the Cabernet d’Anjou AOC.) Of course when presented [for Rosé d’Anjou AOC, another off-dry rosé appellation in the region,] the wine did not get it! For the next 4 years it was refused, the committee even believing we were adding pomegranate or gooseberry syrup! So in 2002 we decided to sell it as Vin de France, at that time considered the lowest quality for wine. All the other cuvées followed in 2007, as they also were disgraced and refused the official agreement. We won’t change our mind and don’t want to be part of group of people promising the best quality, and providing none of it: in the AOC you can use herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, machine-harvest, you can add standard yeasts to the wine, sugar, tartaric acid and 65 other abominations. Mark & Martial Angeli, Bruno Ciofi.   The Rosé d’un Jour is a pun on the AOC name Rosé d’Anjou. It is 100% grolleau gris, an old variety of Anjou-Touraine. The whole clusters are pressed in a large Champagne-style coquard press, then fermented in  tank. The wine is bottled 2 weeks after harvest, volcanic sulfur is used, before a sterile filtration. Bottles are waxed with real bees wax! Exuberant with damask rose, wild strawberry, hibiscus tea and pepper, the 2019 is paler than previous vintages, with the sunny texture of the year. With its 70 g of sugar, it is perfect with berry pies, but also with Asian food, especially Thai, but worth to be aged for 10 years! 70g RS, 22 ppm total of volcanic sulfur. Pascaline Lepeltier. 

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $39.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Sansonnière (Mark Angéli) 2018 Vin de France Les Gélinettes

Gélinette is an old French word for grouse, a bird you used to find wild quite a lot in this part of Anjou, especially when polycultural agriculture was still conducted. Historically Mark made a little bit of red, mostly from cabernet sauvignon planted in 2000 but the wines were always quite rustic and tannic, so he decided to overgraft them and plant more grolleau, a grape fallen in disgrace and considered of poor quality for complex wines. Mostly linked to bad, high-yielding clonal selection dedicated to the production of cheap rosé in the 1970s and 80s, grolleau noir, an indigenous variety, can in fact produce beautiful reds with right massales vines and low crop. If you are a gamay of terroir freak, you will love grolleau on schist. Once called “Jeunes Vignes des Gélinettes”, the cuvée is now just names “Gélinettes” as the vines got older and are grolleau-dedicated. In 2018, the grapes were hand-destemmed - with a wicker basket, macerated for 3 weeks and aged in large tank. La Sansonnière’s reds don’t have historically the same refinement than the white, but the touch of Martial and Bruno can be felt these last years: this Gélinette from a dense, low-yielding vintage, has an enticing, velvety texture with just a little grippy final calling for fatty fish or meat. You can slightly chill it with no problem.  To be enjoyed in the next 5 to 10 years.  0g RS, 0 ppm total of volcanic sulfur. Pascaline Lepeltier.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $47.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Sansonnière (Marc Angéli) 2017 Vin de France La Lune

 In 2017, another vintage badly hit by the frost, the estate lost 50% of their crop, giving wines with a lot of concentration. The vintage was quite sunny and relatively easy in terms of farming, harvest was early with good ripeness. Acidity stayed surprisingly good, balancing out the little residual sugar left. A lot of honey, quince and liquorice both on the nose, the palate has a serious structure, the acid back-bone being discreetly hidden behind the ripeness. A bottle to enjoy with a Moroccan vegetable tajine and or chicken masala. You can cellar it for 10 years. 8g RS, 35 ppm total of volcanic sulfur. Pascaline Lepeltier.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $44.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Sansonnière (Mark Angéli) 2017 Vin de France La Lune 1.5L

 In 2017, another vintage badly hit by the frost, the estate lost 50% of their crop, giving wines with a lot of concentration. The vintage was quite sunny and relatively easy in terms of farming, harvest was early with good ripeness. Acidity stayed surprisingly good, balancing out the little residual sugar left. A lot of honey, quince and liquorice both on the nose, the palate has a serious structure, the acid back-bone being discreetly hidden behind the ripeness. A bottle to enjoy with a Moroccan vegetable tajine and or chicken masala. You can cellar it for 10 years. 8g RS, 35 ppm total of volcanic sulfur. Pascaline Lepeltier.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $99.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Sansonnière (Mark Angéli) 2016 Vin de France La Lune 1.5 L

 2016 was not an easy vintage, hit by the frost then by an intense mildew pressure during most of the growing season, until harvest. Mark, Martial and Bruno were even more in the vineyards to make sure the vines were not suffering too much, and the quality of the grapes would be top. The wine does not have the same upfront density than the 2017 or 2018, but it is also more defined today, with more herbal and savory notes: fennel, chamomile, white pepper and saffron. The sugar and phenolics are barely perceptible, and the wine is quite creamy, making great to pair with spring pea and asparagus tagliatelle, or prawns with warm mayonnaise. The wine can be kept for 5 to 10 years. 4g RS, 325 ppm total of volcanic sulfur. Pascaline Lepeltier.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $99.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Sansonnière (Mark Angéli) 2018 Vin de France Rosé d'un Jour

The Rosé d’un Jour is a pun on the AOC name Rosé d’Anjou. It is a 100% grolleau gris, an old variety of Anjou-Touraine. The whole clusters are pressed in a large coquard, then fermented in a tank. The wine is filtered and bottled 2 weeks after harvest. Bottles are waxed with real bees wax! 2018 gave an absolutely crunchy wine, a basket of pomegranate and raspberry, the acidity showing really well and balancing the sugar. A true gourmandise to enjoy with a red berry pie, as well as Peking duck with five-spices glaze. No sulfites were added, so make sure to keep the bottle in a storage below 52F. 60g RS, 0 ppm total of volcanic sulfur. Pascaline Lepeltier.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $37.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Sansonnière (Mark Angéli) 2017 Vin de France Rosé d'un Jour

 The Rosé d’un Jour is a pun on the AOC name Rosé d’Anjou. It is a 100% grolleau gris, an old variety of Anjou-Touraine. The whole clusters are pressed in a large coquard, then fermented in tank. The wine is filtered and bottled 2 weeks after harvest. Bottles are waxed with real bees wax! In 2017, Mark, Martial and Brunon did a maceration - usually it is a direct press - : the wine took a more earthy, savory notes, showing wild raspberry, black pepper and forest floor. It is a great wine for pairing with beet-based dish, or game worked with a sweet-sour pomegranate based sauce. As no sulfites were added, make sure to keep the bottle in a storage below 52F. 65g RS, 0 ppm total of volcanic sulfur. Pascaline Lepeltier.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $35.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur