Ferme de la Sansonniere "La Lune" where the new cuvée "La Lune Noire" is from (Photo: Martial Angeli)

Anjou: New Releases from La Ferme de la Sansonnière, and Introducing Julien Delrieu!

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New releases from 2018 - 2020 have just arrived from La Ferme de la Sansonnière. Of course we were not able to taste the wines in France as we normally do each winter, but the wines have been extraordinary over the past few years. Our allocation is quite a bit smaller this year, no further inventory is available. (Wines arrive Friday 8/6)

Tasting at the estate (Photo: P. Lepeltier)

From Pascaline Lepeltier's great article last year:

Mark Angeli of La Ferme de la Sansonniere 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.

If the wines have always been brilliant benchmarks for Chenin on schist, they are reaching today a new level thanks to the energetic return of Martial, Mark’s son. More than ever, the duo 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). This year sees the introduction of a new cuvée, La Lune Noire. Brainchild of Martial, it is from a specific terroir usually blended with La Lune. We should see more new cuvées coming in the next years!

Introducing the delicious and extremely promising wines of Julien Delrieu! 

New arrivals from Julien Delrieu

Thanks to the mentorship of Mark Angeli among others, Anjou Noir is really a hot bed of new talents, with new domains popping up every year. One of the most impressive is without a doubt the estate of Julien Delrieu. If 2019 is only his second vintage, Julien is not totally a newcomer to the area, and to Chenin. From 2010 to 2017 he was part of Les Roches Sèches with two other friends Jean-Marie Brousset and Thibaut Ducleux who studied viticulture together in Tours. When the adventure came to an end, the 16 ha of the domaine were split, and Julien got 5 ha around Faveray-Mâchelles, a commune just south of Thouarcé (fief of Mark Angeli) and Cornu (where Stéphane Bernaudeau, who sold some equipment to Julien, is located). His vineyards comprise Chenin (on decomposed schistes), Grolleau (on faluns), Cabernet Franc (on gravels) and Cabernet Sauvignon (on schistes) over a couple of plots, including Pont Bourceau and  Le Jeau (located next to Les Nourrissons) that give the names to his cuvées. This part of Anjou Noir, on the left side of the Layon and the bank of its small tributary Le Lys, is flatter, and not as renowned as the hills of the right bank. The wines produced here are usually a little lighter, but in the right hands - like Julien’s or Bernaudeau’s - they combine depth and lift. It also means a real sensitivity which you know Julien has as soon as you talk with this soft-spoken, poised young vigneron. The maturity of the wines is spot on, as well as the extraction and aging, especially when you know his winery is still a little wild, a quite rustic barn and old vertical press with a mix of tanks and used barrels. But when he tells you he learned his craft with Vincent Carême and Sébastien Brunet, you know precision matters to the utter point for him, as well as careful farming. All the vines have been organically farmed for years now, and the old vines (some planted in 1955), are doing quite well! If yields are on the lower side because of vintage profiles, their juice is full of life, and well captured in the bottles: the very little sulfur (10 to 20ppm) used at bottling does not hide the burst of energy and layers of the wines - in the Chenins and the red alike. It is a real pleasure to introduce Julien’s wines to the NY wine scene, and I can tell you you will keep on hearing - and drinking - from him in the years to come!   Pascaline Lepeltier

(Just a note on the label: beekeeping is another passion of Julien, thus the beehive and little bees on each label!)

 

Sansonnière (Mark Angéli) 2019 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.

  • white
  • 2 in stock
  • $48.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Delrieu, Julien 2019 Vin de France Le Jeau Rouge

Julien Delrieu  has a touch for chenin for sure, but also for red. This blend of Grolleau and Cabernet Franc is a pure "gourmandise," which is not a common thing to say when you know the wine is made in Anjou Noir. But the combination of faluns (a mix of limestone and sandy soils full of seashells) and deep gravelly soil and clay don't bring the usual, rustic tannic structure the reds from the region can have, and even more when the organic farming and the care given to the vines make you think more about gardening than viticulture. This cuvée comes from two plots, the main one giving the name to the wine. Grapes are vinified in fiberglass tank, whole bunches for the grolleau, half for the cabernet, with very gentle pigeage, then bottled in the spring with a hint of sulfur. A very joyful wine, explosive with little red wild berries, fenugreek, peony, and a hint of pepper, the palate is just vibrant and delicious, very Loire-like, crunchy with no green whatsoever but a gentle herbal quality enhancing the fruit. A little chill will make it even better.  PL.

  • red
  • 14 in stock
  • $17.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Delrieu, Julien 2020 Vin de France Pont Bourceau

Pont Bourceau is a crystal-like chenin by Julien Delrieu, all in delicacy and gentleness. The brightest grapes come from two vineyards Pont-Bourceau (planted in 1973) and le Jeau (planted in 1955 located next to Les Nourrissons plot), mostly on decomposed schistes - while he uses the ripest ones for Le Jeau blanc. This cuvée used to be called Varennes under the Roches Sèches era. Fermented in fiberglass, the wine is aged in used barrels - some coming from Bernaudeau. There is a just a hint of sulfur at bottling. This one is the most ethereal Chenin on schiste I have tasted recently, more reminiscent of the Chinon/Saumur profile, with maybe a hint more bitterness - which I love, making this type of Chenin perfect for some many vegetable dishes. A real great addition to the already superb expressions of Loire Chenin.  PL.

  • white
  • 11 in stock
  • $18.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur
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Sansonnière (Mark Angéli) 2020 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!

  • Out of Stock
  • rosé
  • 0 in stock
  • $33.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Sansonnière (Mark Angéli) 2018 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.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $63.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Sansonnière (Mark Angéli) 2020 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.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $45.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Delrieu, Julien 2019 Vin de France Le Jeau Blanc (Chenin)

Le Jeau blanc is subtle, nuanced and highly drinkable chenin on skin produced by the very talented Julien Delrieu. Using the ripest grapes from Pont-Bourceau (planted in 1973) and le Jeau (planted in 1955 located next to Les Nourrissons), both mostly on decomposed schistes, he considers that the quality of the must and the grapes is the determinant of how the wine will be done and aged. Julien used to make some skin-contact with Les Roches Sèches, and he definitely has the touch to extract just enough to give structure and complexity to the wine. Think white tea tannins here, balanced by some Tahitian pomelo zest, quinine and white pepper without any heaviness whatsoever. Vinified in tank and barrel with malo done, the wine just sees a little sulfur at bottling. A really delightful, layered and precise Chenin to enjoy now or over the next 5 years. PL.

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

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur