Watch out for Christophe Foucher's attack Goose. I learned the hard way! (photo: Eben Lillie)

New and Natural from the Loire Valley: La Lunotte, Delrieu-Ducleux, Batardiere, Bonhomme and More!

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Although the origins of natural wine-making in France are most commonly placed in the Beaujolais with the research and wine-making of Jules Chauvet and the group of growers associated with Marcel Lapierre, the Loire Valley has been fertile ground for this movement over the last 20 years and more. Of course we can't forget pionneers like Pierre Frick in Alsace and many others, but there are dozens of growers in the Loire Valley today making superb wines in a more natural style, not because of a trend, but due to their deep committment to the life of their soils and their desire to make pure, healthy and delicious wines. So for those of you seeking to drink more "naturally," we've included a few of our favorite current examples from the Loire Valley, all produced with organically-grown grapes and bottled with zero or minimal added SO2. Enjoy!

Delrieu-Ducleux

Julien Delrieu and Thibault Ducleux are making beautiful Chenins on their small estate in Faveraye-Mâchelles in Anjou on clay, sand and schist soils over the shist bedrock of the Anjou Noir. Julien, who grew up in Brittany, worked in Vouvray with Vincent Careme and Sebastien Brunet before striking out on his own. On a tip from our friend Pascaline at Chambers (the restaurant!) we have been working with Julien for a few years and are very happy to have these pure and natural wines at the store. Although most known for superb Chenin Blanc, Julien and Thibault make a lovely light red from Grolleau and Cab Franc, Le Jeau Rouge, that is perfect to serve cool this summer. And please look out for the superb Chenin "Le Jeau" Blanc which should arrive late next week...

Marie-Lise & Thomas Batardiere

We first met Thomas Batardiere in 2014, shortly after he released his first wines. A native of Angers, Thomas is not from a winemaking family, but he became fascinated with natural wines and pursued a career in wine after studying anthropology and filmmaking. After spending several years working with Mathieu Vallée at Château Yvonne (Saumur), Thomas started his own project in 2012, with 2 hectares of vines, and a shack on the side of the road in Rablay. Mostly working with Chenin Blanc, Thomas slowly added to his holdings, planting some vines while learning about different sites in the area from fellow winemakers, including his neighbor Richard Leroy. His wife Marie-Lise helps out with many of the responsibilities at the winery, and the two are some of the sweetest people you'll meet in the Loire (which is saying something!). We're happy to have their three still Chenin Blancs in the shop, all from the exquisite and balanced 2021 vintage, along with a red from the local Grolleau grape.

Christope Foucher "La Lunotte'

A corner of Christophe's cave

We were introduced to the wines of La Lunotte by a retailer in Paris in 2008 and have been receiving small quantities whenever possible since then. (Remember the Menu Pineau Sous-Voile?).  Foucher’s vineyards are located on the southern bank of the Cher River, near St. Aignan, just a few miles from the Clos Roche Blanche, and with quite similar terroir. Foucher farms seven distinct plots planted to Sauvignon Blanc, Menu Pineau, Gamay, Cot and Cabernet Franc; everything is done by hand at this 7 hectare domaine and the farming is strictly organic, without copper sulfate.

The whites are aged in small, used barrels and fiberglass tanks, and have a certain creaminess and weight that magically balances their high acidity and intense minerality, while the reds are generally light, low in alcohol and high in refreshing pleasure. Bottling is done by hand, without pumping and without added sulfur.

 

Laurent Saillard

Just a 10 minute drive from La Lunotte, our friend Laurent Saillard has been producing wines in the Loire et Cher since 2010. He started by renting a small parcel that was farmed by Didier Barrouillet and Catherine Roussel at the legendary Clos Roche Blanche, making some "micro-cuvées" while working with Clos Roche Blanche and Noella Morantin. In 2015, Saillard set out on his own, expanding his surface by taking over close to half of the Clos Roche Blance vineyards. From the CRB parcels, he now has Pineau D'Aunis, Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Since then, he has found some small plots of Grolleau Noir and Gris, Côt (Malbec) and in recent years, has started to look to friends in other regions after losing crops to mildew, frost and hail in the Loire et Cher.

Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme

Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme was the kid who was always hanging around while Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat paved the way along with Olivier Lemasson and Hervé Villemade (among many more of course!) for the future of naturally made, "real" wines from the Loire et Cher. Now fully running his own show and in turn becoming a , Pierre-O's wines are without question some of the most honest and soulful of the Loire Valley scene.

All wines will be available for delivery or pick up after Monday, 6/12

Lunotte (Christophe Foucher) 2019 Vin de France Les Rossignoux 3

The 2019 Roussignoux 3 is the third release of Sauvignon Blanc from the 2019 vintage. After aging in barrel for over a year, Christophe moved this wine into fiberglass tank, where it rested for an additional 2 years. Some flor clearly developed at a certain point during the aging, giving the wine a fascinating oxidative profile. This wine is mind-bogglingly bizarre, a trip to drink, and generally very hard to compare to anything else in the wine world. There is a dense mineral core, notes of butterscotch and orchard fruits, herbs, and stones. Totally dry, with plenty of acid to help it wear the 14.5% alc. without any sense of heat or power. We do think it's qualitatively delicious, beguiling, and a wine that keeps bringing us back for another sip.

  • white
  • 9 in stock
  • $19.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Bonhomme, Pierre-Olivier 2022 Vin de France La Tesniere Pineau D'Aunis

This is a light and lovely expression of Pineau d'Aunis from Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme, from vines near the Cher river  on clay with silex in organic and biodynamic farming. Aged in old futs and demi-muids, bottled without filtration, minimal SO2. The 2022 shows a pretty light red color with subtle aromas of ripe raspberry, citrus, white pepper and violets, really pretty. A touch deeper than the 2021, it nonetheless delivers on the Pineau D'Aunis promise of peppery and bright rustic flavors. Lip-smacking acidity and a beautifully refreshing finish of minerals, earth and pretty red fruits. This is a delightfully refreshing version of Pineau d'Aunis - serve cool!

  • red
  • 22 in stock
  • $32.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur
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Delrieu-Ducleux 2021 Vin de France La Joue Blanc (Chenin)

La Joue is a natural Chenin Blanc from younger vines planted in 1976 on typical shist soils of the region. The wine is fresh with nice cut and a lovely dense mouthfeel. Aging is half in stainless steel and half in used barrels. There's a delicate nose with stone fruit (white apricot) and some preserved lemon aromas. Tasting in February of this year (2023), Julien noted that there was some mousiness in the finish and that the wine needed to age in the bottle an additional 6-8 months. The bottle we opened here that just arrived from France did show some bacterial notes in the finish, but vastly improved from this past Winter. We would recommend waiting an additional 2-3 months, but if you can't wait, just chill it and drink it quickly with friends. The acidity and overall balance are impressive, there is a lovely wine here that will reveal itself fully with a few more months of aging.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Delrieu-Ducleux 2021 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. A very joyful wine, explosive with little red wild berries, 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

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $18.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Batardiere 2021 Anjou L'Esprit Libre

From 3 parcels in the village of Rablay from vines aging from 15-90 years old. Plateaus of sandy soil and gravely soils of quartz over schist. The blend is assembled in stainless steel tanks before fermentation. Alcoholic and Malolactic fermentation occur naturally, without the use of temperature control, and the wine sees no sulfur whatsoever until a tiny addition at the bottling.  This is a fun and truly singular expression of Chenin. At times there are hints of pear and lime flower, then it unfolds into sharp minerals and crispy acidity, and these two elements of fruit and stones continue to intermingle. It’s lean, but dense and round as well.  -EL

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $31.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Batardiere 2021 Anjou Clos des Cocus

100% Chenin Blanc from a single parcel planted in 1958, which sits atop a hillside with good wind exposure comprised of volcanic clay schist soils. The wine undergoes primary and malolactic fermentation in used 500L barrels with no fining and only a small amount of sulfur is added at bottling. A clear straw color in the glass, this is a layered and complex Chenin that takes a bit of time to fully reveal itself, but after an hour or so open some of the lush fruit and powerful minerality start to come through. It's a versatile pairing wine and has the potential to age gracefully if you can tuck some away.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $36.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Batardiere 2021 Vin de France Amor Fati (Grolleau)

From a small holding of Grolleau vines, the Batardieres produce this ethereally light red. Often a bit reductive on opening, these notes blow off with some air, revealing a floral and high acid Grolleau, perhaps the lightest one we've ever had. Flavors of red berries and redcurrant, with floral notes, and very fine acidity.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $24.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Lunotte (Christophe Foucher) 2020 Vin de France Les Rossignoux 2

The Rossignoux2 is the second release of Sauvignon Blanc from the 2020 vintage. This one was aged a bit longer than the Roussignoux"1" but is still similarly fresh, with subtle tropical fruit on the nose, and delicate acidity. The extra time on the lees in Christophe's hobbit cave has given more density to the wine, and calmed down the sharp, grassy notes of the Sauvignon Blanc. Instead, there is more of a stone fruit profile and less pronounced citrusy aromatics.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Lunotte 2021 Vin de France Printemps Rosé

Christophe Foucher's La Lunotte  2021 "Printemps" appears to be all his grapes from this tiny harvest vinified together as an orange wine or rosé. The color is orange/pink with inriguing aromas of blood orange, red currant, rose, brown spice, apricot... The palate shows bright acidity with hints of orange zest, wild strawberry, pear and apricot with very firm acidity in the clean mineral finish. 11.5% alcohol, zero SO2. It drinks like a tonic of some sort, at times while sipping this you might forget that you're drinking wine! A unique and delicious natural wine, which of course is what we expect from Christophe Foucher!

  • Out of Stock
  • rosé
  • 0 in stock
  • $20.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Saillard, Laurent 2021 Vin de France 'En Famille' Cot (Malbec)

A new offering from Laurent Saillard, this is a delicious Côt (Malbec) from a parcel in the Loire et Cher. Dark, black fruit, with rustic mouthfeel and rich material, all at a elegant and balanced 12% Alc. We're big fans of this wine for a deceptively light red that drinks like a "big" red. Or maybe it's a big red that drinks like a light red. Either way, a very light chill and the accompaniment of some BBQ this Summer should be a fantastic pairing. A "Vin de Soif" for folks who like richer and darker flavors in their red wines.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Bonhomme, Pierre-Olivier 2021 Vin de France Le Telquel

(We have good stock of the 2021, and more is shipping from France!) This "poil dur" is wagging its tail again in 2021, with the brightness and balance of the old days at 11.5% alcohol, really refreshing and delicious! The wine shows bright plum, raspberry and green apple fruit with a bit of earth and spice. The palate is light and fresh but with nice density of fruit - raspberry, red currant and cherry with bright acidity, quite "gouleyant" - lip smacking and tasty that is, reminding us of the Ducroux Exspectatia...yum! The blend in 2021 is still based on Gamay, with Cabernet Franc, and some Syrah and Grenache from the Roussillon (noted from tasting with Pierre-O in February 2022).

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur