Les Grandes Vignes Part II : New wines from the Loire

Last year we introduced the wines from Domaine Les Grandes Vignes, a sizeable Biodynamic estate in the Loire Valley that we have been really impressed with since we first started tasting their wines in 2015. We recently received a new shipment, and so figured it'd be a good time to re-introduce the estate to our readers, and highlight some new cuvées that have arrived, namely the two no sulfur amphora wines and the sparkling white and rosé.

The Domaine Les Grandes Vignes was first established by the Vaillant family in the 17th century, and has continued as a family estate to this day. All of their vines are farmed without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or insecticides, and are certified organic and Biodynamic. It’s a lot of work, but they have a big family, and a trusted team of vineyard workers whom they employ year round.

The team at Domaine Les Grandes Vignes (Jean-Francois Vaillant on left)

 

Herbs and perrenials are planted annually, along with hedges and bushes. Treatments in the vineyard include various biodynamic preparations, tisanes, manure, and compost, with plant infusions and small amounts of copper and sulfur used to prevent mildew. Pruning and plowing are planned in accord with the lunar cycle.

Soils range from grey and green schist, phtanite, quartz, and ‘falun coquillé,’ to various gravelly and sandy types. Most of the wines spend between 6 and 12 months in barrels and tanks, with a stock of over 300 barrels on hand to ensure optimum vinification and ageing. Red wines are bottled without filtration or added sulfur, while whites usually see a tiny addition of sulfur at bottling. 

Eben Lillie

Grandes Vignes 2014 Vin de France Et Ce Terra Blanc

Chenin Blanc fermented and aged in amphora with no sulfur added. It's not a common occurrence, but we're very happy to have the opportunity to share this unique wine. The nose is floral, and stony, with hints of stone fruit, but the really fascinating aspect of the wine is the texture. Just letting the wine sit on the palate, I experienced earthiness (possible, but rare for a white wine), crystalline acidity, density in the mid-palate, and a long, mineral finish. Highly recommended for Chenin aficionados and those who are interested in the growing category of amphora wines.   Eben Lillie

  • white
  • 3 in stock
  • $34.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Grandes Vignes 2014 Vin de France Et Ce Terra Rouge

Cabernet Franc with 6 weeks maceration in clay amphora, followed by 12 months of aging in amphora. Though it's a new experiment for the folks at Grandes Vignes, it's already a great success. Aromas of black cherry, dried herbs, and roses, with a broad and enveloping palate. With some time open, some smokey notes emerge, lending another dimension to the wine. Drinking this wine over the course of a few hours really broadened my understanding of the versatility of Cabernet Franc, and further convinced me of the great talent for wine making that the Vaillant family has.  Eben Lillie

  • red
  • 2 in stock
  • $34.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Grandes Vignes 2014 Vin de France Bulle Nature

This is a Methode Ancestrale sparkling white of Grolleau Gris, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay. Disgorgement is after about 6 months on the lees, and the wine is made without added sulfur. It's dry and delicious - a great aperitif and a really versatile sparkler that will pair well with a wide variety of foods and is equally enjoyable and charming on it's own.  Eben Lillie

  • white sparkling
  • 13 in stock
  • no discount
  • $15.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Grandes Vignes 2011 Vin de France Bulle Nature Rose

This Brut Nature from Domaine les Grandes Vignes is a blend of Gamay and Groslot in Biodynamic farming, naturally vinified with zero sulfur added. Dark pink garnet color; lovely aromas of red currant, candied strawberry and violets. Soft bubbles with ripe red currant and berry fruits - quite rich but dry and balanced, really delicious! Serve as an aperitif or with a meal - perect at a picnic with chicken or veggies. Bravo to the Vaillant family for great farming and natural vinifications.

  • rosé sparkling
  • 11 in stock
  • no discount
  • $15.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Grandes Vignes 2015 Vin de France Breton

Yum! This is a very gulpable Cab Franc from the folks at Domaine les Grandes Vignes. This has very little tannin, and a healthy amount of acidity and ripe red fruit, so it's a shoo-in for the chillable red category. There's nice density and richness, which can be missed with some Loire Valley natural wines  (always good to have a medium bodied option in that category). There's no funk here, just pure fruit, so it's an easy fit for the dinner table, even for less "adventurous" palates.  Eben Lillie

  • red
  • 9 in stock
  • $14.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Grandes Vignes 2015 Anjou L'Aubinaie

This is Anjou Cabernet Franc from gravel/schist and sandy clay soils. The grapes undergo 3 days of maceration followed by aging in  2-3 year-old barrels, and the wine is bottled  without filtration or added sulfur. It's quite funky on the nose, almost deceivingly so, as it's totally pure on the palate. Plenty of red fruit, spice, eucalyptus, and earth... really classic Cab Franc in many ways, but with a little edginess. Eben Lillie  

  • red
  • 9 in stock
  • $14.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Grandes Vignes 2014 Anjou Varenne du Poirier

A beautiful Chenin Blanc, from a great vintage for Loire whites. There's a nice amount of weight and roundness in the mid-palate, so don't expect enamel-stripping acidity, but don't worry either... it's still totally dry. Vines are around 20 years old on average, from soils of schist and sandstone in the valley of Arcison, a small tributary of the Layon river. Pressed at low pressure, light racking of 12 hours with light lees recovery. 400L new wood for alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. Kept in old wood for 10 months. Golden yellow, with a touch of quince, and white peach. Just plain delicious Chenin Blanc. Eben Lillie

  • white
  • 6 in stock
  • $17.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Grandes Vignes 2012 Anjou Varenne de Combre

The 2012 Varenne de Combre is the more meditative and linear of the two Anjou whites from Grandes Vignes. Totally dry and crystalline, with great precision and a long mineral finish. This wine should age beautifully, but is also a treat with a little air. Textbook dry Chenin on schist soil... what more could you want?  Eben Lillie

  • white
  • 10 in stock
  • $23.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Grandes Vignes 2013 Bonnezeaux Le Malabé

If you have a sweet tooth, this Chenin is for you! Bonnezeaux is one of a few sweet wine appellations in the Loire Valley, where grapes are required to be over-ripe, and are sometimes affected by noble rot. "Le Malabé" has about 130 grams of residual sugar, but I honestly thought it was about 80g when I first tasted this wine, thanks to the high acidity and the ample minerality that the schiste soils provide. Just bringing the wine to the nose, one is greeted with honey, quince and with some subtle sweet spice aromas that tickle the senses. On the palate, it's dense, ripe and absolutely delicious. Francois from Grandes Vignes mentioned to me that 2013 was OK for reds in the Loire, very good for their dry Chenin Blanc, and exceptional for the sweet wines. Case in point! Drink now if you're craving sometime sweet, or age for decades.   Eben Lillie

  • white sweet
  • 6 in stock
  • $33.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
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Grandes Vignes 2015 Vin de France Groslot

"Groslot" (which loosely translates to "jackpot") is a humorous play on the name of the grape here, which is known officially as  Grolleau Noir. The Vaillant family has definitely hit the jackpot with this wine, one of a lineup of reds without any SO2 added. Grolleau is a grape with plenty of fruit, ample acidity level and a noticeable tannic structure, though the style here is light-handed and fun, so there is barely any grip to this wine. Really vibrant and fresh on the palate with crushed berries and a silky finish. Drink with a chill!  Eben Lillie

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $13.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur