"Les Bournais" with the Loire river just beyond the trees

2022 Loire Chenin-Fest, Part One: Chidaine, Domaine aux Moines, Closel, Mosse, Baudry, Pinon, Sansonnières...

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One of my favorite Chenin Blancs, which means one of my favorite whie wines, period, is the delightful Montlouis "les Bournais" from Francois and Manuela Chidaine. We've just received another shipment of the superb 2019, which gives us an excuse to feature other great Chenin Blancs from some of our friends in the Loire Valley. At a time when new investment is arriving in the region and changing the scene, we feel it's appropriate to honor those estates who have dramatically raised the quality of Loire Chenins over the past 20 years through organic and Biodynamic farming and conscientious, more natural styles of winemaking. And of course they've had to deal with the now yearly threat of spring frosts, higher temeratures and drought...

François and Manuela Chidaine have been pioneers in organic and biodynamic farming in the Loire Valley, and were instrumental in the resurgence of quality in Montlouis-sur-Loire. After taking over from his father in 1989, François converted to organic agriculture in 1992 and to biodynamics in 1999. Today, the Chidaines embrace "regnerative agriculture," a no-till farming approach where permanent cover crops of indigenous and sown plants coexist with the vines, improving the rate at which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and converted into plant material and soil organic matter.  Francois planted the vines at "Les Bournais" in 1999 - a unique site on a small plateau bordering the Loire river with a special limestone/clay soil (les Bournais) similar to a Vouvray terroir and without the silex present in most Montlouis vineyards. We have puchased every vintage of this wine which seems to get better every year - it shows remarkably complex and pretty aromas, with a silky texture and fascinating minerality - just a beautiful glass of wine....

Vines in the Domaine du Closel "Clos des Papillons"

Domaine du Closel  It seems we have known Evelyne de Pontbriand since the day she took over the family estate in Savennières back in 2001. She has been a major force in the resurgence of Savennières and, along with Cellarmaster Bruno Perray, has transformed the domaine into one of the finest in the Loire, converting to organic farming in 2006 and to biodynamics in 2015. Her superb vineyard, the "Clos du Papillon" regularly produces one of the Loire Valley's finest Chenin Blancs and in the 2018 vintage it is particulary outstanding. The Clos du Papillon is one of the three most celebrated coulées or small ravine-like valleys in Savennières; it and La Roche Aux Moines and La Coulée de Serrant are in essence the grands crus of the appellation. There is very little of this extraordinary wine available - we encourage every lover of Chenin to put a few in their cellar!

Domaine aux Moines vines in Roche-aux-Moines

Domaine aux Moines is operated by an incredible mother/daughter (Monique & Tessa Laroche) team organically, and now with biodynamic practices as well, farming under 10 hectares of Chenin Blanc. The vineyards stand next to the famed 'Coulée de Serrant' on South-West facing hillsides of predominately schist soils. Since her arrival Tessa has been improving every detail to be able to make more precise, transparent, complex wines. The results are spectacular and she is now one of the best examples of Roche-aux-Moines, and of course also Savennières.

Mark Angeli of Domaine de la Sansonnière 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 have only a few bottle to offer today, look out for new arrivals later this year...

Happy Chenin chez Mosse

The Mosse family is making superb natural wines at their estate in Saint-Lambert du Lattay, Anjou, (organic since 1999) and the 2019 Vin de France Rouchefer is a classic example of truly great Loire Valley Chenin. From a 1.6 ha parcel of 50 year-old massale selection vines in soils of clay and quartz over schistes, the wine is produced with minimal SO2 (total 20mg/l) and is aged in barrel. The  wine shows beautiful floral aromas of quince, pear, citrus, almond and stone. The palate is quite ripe, expressive and elegant without being heavy, and the lovely fruit is backed by firm acidity, herbal and mineral flavors, with terrific length  - a real Chenin of terroir that will accompany a wide range of seafood and chicken dishes and mild cheeses. Serve cool, but not too cold, over the next ten to fifteen years.

 

La Croix Boissée in summer

Traveling east into Touraine, we come across the beautiful Chinon Blanc "La Croix Boissée" from Bernard and Matthieu Baudry. The vines are planted at the top of the slope in very thin clay soils barely covering the limestone, a great terror for Chenin. This wine has become one of the top Chenins of the Loire, another great example of the exemplary farming and winemaking of the Baudrys. From Mathieu Baudry: "Croix Boissée Blanc 2020 : Classical expression of Chinon Blanc with less alcohol than 2019 and nice acidity at the end. No residual sugar. Malo done as usual. La Croix Boissée Blanc 2020 shows like many vintages those nice notes of anise or fennel with a hint of white apricots. The wine is not big but still salty/mineral. It makes you salivate and calls you for another glass."   Very limited quantity available.

François Pinon in "Les Déronnieres"

Our last entry honors our friend François Pinon who passed away last year. With his son Julien who survives him, he was making some of the most beautiful and age-worthy wines of Vouvray. (A customer wrote yesterday, regarding the 1964 Pinon Demi-Sec "it was the most remarkable, memorable, stunning white wine I’ve ever tasted, on both nights one and two.  What a treasure!")  About 4 cases remain of their great 2018 Vouvray Sec "Les Déronnières," we advise a few bottles for your cellar...

All wines discount 10% on a case or mixed case purchase, arrival week of Jan 24th.

Closel (Château des Vaults) 2018 Savennières Clos du Papillon (Stained Labe

(Please Note: Current inventory of the 2018 "Clos du Papillon" has  partially stained labels) "The Clos du Papillon is a small valley at mid slope, beautifully exposed southwest to the light of the Loire. There are schist, rhyolite but also quartz. The topsoil layer is very shallow (60 cm) which provides excellent drainage for rainwater. The vine growing conditions are difficult, forcing it to develop its roots deep in the rock cracks to draw nutrients. The climate in that parcel allows for a level of highly advanced maturity, with grapes that concentrate aromas under the action of botrytis.  The body and the very long finish make the Clos du Papillon a gastronomic wine to accompany lobster, scallops, smoked fish, Turbots, Saint Peter. It is also interesting with delicate white meats such as veal or capon, along with truffles or mushrooms. Classic mountain cheeses like old Salers, or 5 to 6 years old Comté are equally delicious with this great Savennières." -  Domaine du Closel.    2018 is a great vintage for the Clos du Papillon, combining excellent ripeness with bright acidity and great balance - the wine shows beautiful aromas of ripe pear and quince with honeysuckle, lime-flower and dried herbs with hints of smoke and earth.  The palate is superb, very ripe and dense with white fruits, citrus, almond and stone with very firm lemony acidity and mineral flavors. The finish is very long with bitter lemon and saline minerals. Drinking beautifully now, this should age perfectly, peak drinking perhaps to 2040 and beyond. David Lillie

  • white
  • 7 in stock
  • $44.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
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Chidaine, François 2019 Montlouis Sur Loire Les Bournais

(Wine arrives Jan 25) This is usually our favorite wine from François and Manuela Chidaine, long-time champions of organic and biodynamic farming in the Loire Valley. Named after the soil type "Les Bournais," a unique clay topsoil over limestone (tuffeau blanche) also found across the river in Vouvray and without the silex present in most Montlouis terroirs. First made in a sec-tendre style, recent vintages have been dry, with the 2019 showing perfect balance  at 2.6 g/L RS, 13% alc and 4.51 g/L total acidity. The 2019 shows the wine's normal astonishing aromatic complexity with hints of red fruits (raspberry), lime flower, pineapple, lemon zest, stone, white peach and almond. The palate is very elegant and a bit austere in it's youth, showing firm acidity with earth and mineral flavors predominant over white fruits, bitter lemon, almond and stone. Very long and very bright citrus and mineral finish. This is a beautiful Montlouis that will  pair with mildly flavored fish, ceviche and goat cheeses in it's youth, with age serve with lobster, white meats and fish in sauce, Asian foods.... It's delicious now, and should be very interesting after ten to fifteen years in the cellar. Highly recommended.  ($41.39 0n case or mixed case purchase) David Lillie

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

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic

Domaine Aux Moines 2019 Savennieres Roche Aux Moines

 Domaine aux Moines is operated by an incredible mother/daughter (Monique & Tessa Laroche) team organically, and now with biodynamic practices as well, farming under 10 hectares of Chenin Blanc. The vineyards stand next to the famed 'Coulée de Serrant' on South-West facing hillsides of predominately schist soils. Since her arrival Tessa has been improving every detail to be able to make more precise, transparent, complex wines. The results are spectacular and she is now one of the best examples of Roche-aux-Moines, and of course also Savennières.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $43.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Baudry 2020 Chinon La Croix Boissée Blanc

(This wine is in our warehouse and should arrive Feb 9th) This rare and beautiful Chenin Blanc is from the top of the "Croix Boissée" parcel on eroded limestone. The wine ferments very slowly in 500 liter toneaux until dry - less than 2 g/l residual sugar.  "Croix Boissée Blanc 2020 : Classical expression of Chinon Blanc with less alcohol than 2019 and nice acidity at the end. No residual sugar. Malo done as usual. La Croix Boissée Blanc 2020 shows like many vintages those nice notes of anise or fennel with a hint of white apricots. The wine is not big but still salty/mineral. It makes you salivate and calls you for another glass." - Matthieu Baudry  This has become one of the finest Chenins of the Loire with beautiful expression of the limestone soil in this lighter vintage.  Very limited quantity available.

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

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Pinon 2018 Vouvray Les Déronnières

The grapes for this  cuvée from Francois Pinon (first made in 2014)  used to be included in the Silex Noir, but this wonderful vineyard, the Pinon's best parcel on a hill-top directly above their cellar, much deserves to be bottled on its own.  The soil is clay over Turonian limestone, and the beautiful exposure gives ripe fruit that is normally vinified as a demi-sec. In 2018 it's fabulously ripe, dense and complex, and finished dry (for Vouvray) in 2018, with a technically sec level of 8 grams RS and a very firm 4.7 grams acidity. The wine shows elegant aromas of lime-flower, dried pear, lemon zest and stones. The palate is very supple and ripe, saline and mineral with round white fruits, citrus and herbal notes with impressive density and length. A great Vouvray with fantastic minerality  that will age beautifully!  (The Pinon 1964 Demi-Sec is extraordiary now...) Normally thought of as a fish wine, the flavors and texture of this wine will make it pair beautifully with poultry and white meats as well.  Highly recommended.  David Lillie

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $32.95

  • Organic

Pinon 2016 Vouvray "Le 16"

100% Chenin Blanc. Pinon's only white wine in this very difficult and short vintage in which the estate lost 75% of its harvest. The "Le 2016" replaces the usual Trois Argiles, Silex Noir and Les Deronnières bottlings, with fruit from a range of those and other parcels. The vines average 40 years in age, are certified organic and were hand-harvested from October 10-18. Fermentation took place spontaneously with natural yeasts and lasted 2-3 months in wood vats. The wine was aged 4-5 months on its fine lees in old tonneaux (large oak barrels) and gently filtered before bottling in April 2017 with 22.4 grams/liter of residual sugar and 5.5 g/L total acid.  Total production of Le 2016 was 1600 cases (a yield of only 11 hl/ha). The wine shows lovely aromas of lime-flower, honeyed citrus, dried white fruis and earth. Firm lemony acidity and mineral flavors underlie  ripe white fruits and lemon confit. The finish is very long with citrus,honey, pear and stone . Technically a Demi-Sec, the wine is balanced by the bright citrusy acids and will pair well with charcuterie, fish in sauce and white meats. Cellar for twenty to thirty years to create a fabulous mature Vouvray.  David Lillie

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $26.99

  • Organic