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Earlier this year, while researching new winemakers in the Loire, I stumbled upon some information about Domäne Vincendeau, an estate in Anjou that began producing wines in 2014. At the helm of this new estate was not the usual 30-something French guy living in his van, but instead a woman from Germany named Liv Vincendeau, who settled in Rochefort-sur-Loire with her husband in 2013. I met Liv in January and was immediately impressed with her enthusiasm and friendliness. She was excited to share her wines, and explain the decisions she made in each vintage, and though she is a relative newcomer to the region, her knowledge about the grapes and soils of the Loire Valley was on par with any second or third generation winemaker I've met. In June I had a chance to visit her in Rochefort-sur-Loire, to see the vineyards and cellar. From high up on a hill above the Loire, we could see for miles, across the river to Savennieres in the distance. It's a great spot with good soils, and it was obvious to me that Liv had already developed a love for the place and the people, and a deep connection to her vines.
Liv came to the Loire valley in the early 2000s, with the idea to study winemaking and eventually form her own domaine. In 2013, she and her husband discovered an old house for sale at the base of the Loire river in Rochefort-sur-Loire, and with a little research, Liv found a few small parcels above the town. She quickly got to work converting the vineyards to organic farming. In an effort to minimize their carbon footprint, she chose to work the soil with a horse instead of a tractor (and she even drives an electric car!).
Most of Liv's parcels are Chenin Blanc, ranging from 10-80 years old, some Cabernet Franc, Gamay, and a newly planted parcel of Grolleau that she's quite excited about. The sub-soil is mostly schist (who doesn't love Chenin on schist?!) and the vineyards are littered with pieces of green and purple schist, quartz, and other mineral deposits. Winemaking is low-intervention, always indigenous yeast, with small amounts of sulfur added typically only at bottling. The wines are new classic expressions of the Loire, and we're proud to be able to share them with you!
Classic dry Chenin from schist soils up above Rochefort-sur-Loire overlooking the Loire river with the coulees of Savennieres visible in the distance. Liv combines grapes from her oldest vines (planted in 1940) and and her younger 10 year old vines, with great result. There's very pleasant and inviting fruit up-front, and with some time open, the wine reveals an impressive mineral backbone. For only the second vintage of this cuvée, Liv is doing a great job, and we're looking forward to drinking plenty of the Raguenet in the years to come! Eben Lillie
A blend of Cabernet Franc, Gamay and a touch of Grolleau. It's darker hued than many rosés, but totally dry, with a perfect amount of tannin in the finish - very subtle and not mouth coating, more the type you feel at the back of your tongue. With some dark berry fruit and the lovely structure, it's an immediate shoe-in for pairing with food, including but not limited to any of your summer barbecues! Eben Lillie
This fun Vin Mousseaux (the general term for sparkling wine) has gained a following among Liv's neighbors in Rochefort-sur-Loire, for good reason: It's a delicious sparkling Chenin Blanc that is very easy on the wallet. Methode Ancestrale, from mostly younger vines and including grapes from a tiny parcel of old vines (planted in 1950) for extra character. It's dry, with an interesting texture and flavor profile reminiscent of raw honey. For the quality to price, it's pure gold! Eben Lillie
This is Liv's exceptional Cremant de Loire, aged sur latte for 16 months, 100% Chenin Blanc from Schiste soils. It's Extra Brut, but tastes like a Brut Nature...clean and mineral with great density and a long finish. This was a hit when we opened it for an in-store tasting and is a welcome addition to our collection of Loire Valley sparkling wines. Eben Lillie