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In the last few weeks we've had some great wines from the Loire Valley coming in, including recent shipments from Domaine du Fresche in Anjou, and the dynamic duo Claire and Florent Bejon, from further east of Angers, near Chinon.
Fresche is one of those quintessential Chambers Street estates: longtime organic farming (in this case 20 years), hand harvested fruit, native yeast fermentation, and incredible value for the money. Located in La Pommeraye (Anjou), the estate has been in the Boré family for six generations. Alain Boré took over from his parents in 1989 and converted the estate to organic farming beginning in 2000. His wife Christine helps with estate and is one of the most charming and sweet French people we know. Their wines speak of the history of the Anjou appellation, with Chenin Blanc in dry and sweet iterations, reds of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Grolleau, and Pinot Noir, a classic Cabernet d'Anjou, which denotes the appellation known specifically for demi-sec rosé, even a delicious Cremant de Loire. We don't have their whole lineup in stock, but the four wines available today are a great sampling of the domaine.
Claire and Florent Bejon operate an enchanting estate in Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne, tucked up on a hill with caverns carved into limestone. Their cellar is in a Troglydyte cave, and classical music plays on the radio for the aging wines, which further enhances the feeling of stepping into the past. There's a serenity to the place, and I can't really put into words the feeling of being there, and grasping the care and artistry in what they do, but it's memorable.
Truly a group effort, the two take part in every step of the winemaking, from vineyard work, to harvesting, through vinification. Florent's full time job is as a mobile bottler, and a specialist in carefully bottling wines that have minimal or zero added SO2, so he takes care of the bottling while Claire helps with exports and orders.
Their wines are all pressed manually, fermented in fibreglass, and aged in old barrels, bottled without any added sulfites. Though one vineyard they have could fall under the Chinon appellation, everything is Vin de France, from around Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne, where the Vienne feeds into the Loire river. We're happy to have the three wines they make - two reds from Cabernet Franc, and a dry Chenin Blanc - which all speak a little magic, and will appeal to Loire Valley fans and natural wine lovers alike.
50% Pinot Noir and 50% Grolleau grown by Alain and Christine Bore, the sixth generation on their organic estate in Anjou. In the glass there's a bright red/black color and lush aromas of ripe blackberry and raspberry with dark chocolate, violet, and citrus. The palate is supple and fruity with deep berry fruits backed by bright acidity - a great combination of ripeness and refreshment.
Cabernet d'Anjou is an appellation wine from Anjou in the Loire Valley, always a rosé made from Cabernet Franc and at times with Cabernet Sauvignon as well, and usually made in a off-dry style. Though we know that off-dry or demi-sec rosés aren't exactly "in," this wine is so delicious we're going to drink it anyhow! Serve with grilled foods, Asian foods, mild cheeses or sip by itself as a yummy aperitif. Mostly Cabernet Franc, it's bursting with lovely red-currant and berry fruit with just enough sweetness to make it go down oh so easy.
Alain and Christine Boré produce delicious organic wines on their estate in Anjou that are sensational values for everyday enjoyment. Their Anjou Blanc (100% Chenin Blanc) is superb, with lovely aromas of pear and apple, fresh herbs, lime-flower and honey. Not quite as sharp or acid driven as the previous vintage, it is still a simply delicious dry Chenin that will accompany seafood, grilled or in sauce, chicken, goat cheeses, etc.
This is all Cabernet Franc, from vines close to Chinon. Grapes are slowly pressed in a very old manual press, and aged in old barrels in a troglodyte limestone cave (complete with classical music playing for the aging wines). Medium-light body and elegant in style, with a faint homage to the bell pepper side of the Cabernet Franc spectrum, along with baking spice and some rusticity. This is perhaps the "wilder" and more gamey of the two reds the Bejons produce. Great with food and recommended with a light chill. -Eben Lillie
Technically falling within the greater Chinon appellation, this is old vines Cabernet Franc from limestone terroir. Blackberry and blackcurrant notes, deep ripeness and a lovely vibrancy from natural vinification. The 2018 Saint Germain is a bit more concentrated than previous vintages, and possibly our favorite yet. There's a combination of rich, dark purple fruit and an uplifting freshness. A great fall red, perfectly medium bodied. -Eben Lillie
Claire and Florent Bejon are humble winemakers from the Loire Valley. Florent has been the go-to bottler for natural winemakers in the Loire for decades, and at some point, he and his wife Claire decided to make their own wines from vines of Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc around Chinon. We are very glad that they did! Les Gruches comes from 70-year-old vines of Chenin Blanc planted on a cool site near Chinon, where the soils are flint and clay over limestone. This is natural Chenin at its best, in a slightly oxidative style. The nose shows overripe apple, yellow pear, and citrus notes, while the palate is bright and acid-driven, with nice density and notes of orchard fruit. These wines never last long, but they are truly a joy while they are here! Ben Fletcher