The beautiful, revered wines of true peasant-vignerons, Mark & Martial Angeli and Bruno Ciofi from La Ferme de la Sansonnière

4/17/20 -

(NOTE: Now a laureate of “Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France - Sommellerie” and Best French Sommelier, Chambers Street Wines is extremely proud to present this article by our good friend and neighbor at Racines NY, Pascaline Lepeltier. In 2014, Pascaline passed the Master Sommelier Diploma, and in 2018, she won 2 more major titles in her homeland: shemelier 2018. In January 2019, the famous French magazine La Revue du Vin de France awarded her “Personality of the Year 2019”, the first woman to be given this prestigious recognition. As a Managing Partner at Racines NY, Ms Lepeltier, in collaboration with the brilliant chef Diego Moya and Sommelier Arnaud Tronche, has established Racines as one of the premier cuisine and wine destinations of the US. While the restaurant is closed, Ms. Lepeltier will be a regular contributor to these pages, presenting some of her favorite wines and winemakers from France and beyond. Stay tuned!)


Mark Angeli 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 are very pleased to offer today a large offering of the main cuvées of this estate, including back vintages!

A chemistry student turned stonemason, Mark fell for wine, changed career and moved to Anjou, in 1989 in search of affordable lands to develop his ideal vision of agriculture. In the schistous foothills of the noble rot heaven, Bonnezeaux, he luckily stumbled upon the Ferme de La Sansonnière, an historic and polycultural property, then selling conventional wines to the local supermarkets, that was for sale. He jumped on the opportunity, and right away converted the farm to Biodynamics (he became an adept after his training at La Tour Blanche in Bordeaux.) He also restored the house himself.

Biodynamic farming was quite a revolution at that time for the area. The support was few, the opposition and threats strong, and after years of refusal of AOCs’ agreements, despite producing some of the best, most praised, unchaptalized wines of the region, Mark decided in 2007 to stop claiming the Anjou, Coteaux du Layon or Bonnezeaux appellations. He moved everything to Vin de France. A deep believer in terroir, he could not be part of the hypocrisy of the other conventional producers over-cropping and overusing chemicals and oenological tricks (chaptalization and selected yeasts especially) while killing their soils and abusing consumers. To protest even more, he started to list the ingredients on the label and he shifted his best Chenin plots from sweet to dry and half-dry production, something unheard of in the region. But Mark knew also that the revolution could not happen alone, and early on he actively became a mentor and helped like-minded (young) vignerons to successfully start their estates. The more the better to realize the socio-ecological revolution!

If the wines have been brilliant benchmarks for Chenin on schist, they are reaching today a new level thanks to the energetic return of Martial, Mark’s son and the arrival of Bruno Ciofi, ex-manager of Domaine de la Pinte in the Jura. More than ever, the trio 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).
One of the La Lune parcels, in crescent shape.

Mark has been a mentor for me since I started; Martial and Bruno also became dear friends. All have a terrific sense of cold humor that makes the tastings quite entertaining. I asked them to tell us in their own words a little more about the classic spring releases of the domain, La Lune 2018 and Rosé d’Un Jour 2019. Here is some news from la Sansonnière, where the spring is blossoming, everyone is safe, and so far the frost nor the mildew haven’t damaged the vineyards like the previous years.

-Pascaline Lepeltier

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