In this months’ wine club, we are exploring the Loire Valley. The Loire River defines this region. Spanning more than 600 miles it’s characterized as one of France’s most varied regions. The diversity flourishes from the limestone to the grape varietals grown. The science and practice of the appellation varietals and terroir lead to high quality production of every type of wine; reds, whites, rosés, sparklings and dessert wines. The Domaines we are showcasing are houses that make every effort to respect, protect and showcase the land. They focus on using “Lutte Raisonnée” literally meaning “reasoned struggle.” It is an approach to viticulture to not use synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides in order to support healthy soils. This region is one of our personal favorites, we continuously find ourselves revisiting it and we look forward to sharing some of our favorites with you.
P. & E. Mullins
2017 Domaine Thomas-Labaille L’Authentique Sancerre
When renown vigneron (vine grower and wine maker) Jean-Paul Labaille was retiring, there was concern of who would continue to manage the old-vines in Monts Damnés (one of Sancerre’s greatest vineyard sites). Gratefully he left us all in good hands with his dear friend Claude Thomas and his son in law Jean-Paul Labille. Minimal changes have occurred over the years, the vineyard and cellar work follow the same time-honored techniques of hand harvesting and producing the wine without the use of cultured yeasts or enzymes. The result in this Sancerre blanc, 100% Sauvignon Blanc, is racy and refined, intense minerality and crisp citrus notes along with subtle hint of pepper that give way to a long delicious finish. It is recommended to drink this now through 2020 if you have patience to cellar it.
2017 Domaine Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon Rosé
The Chinon appellation covers both banks of the Vienne River which is tributary of the Loire Valley and its soils and climate are perfectly suited to the cultivation of the Cabernet Franc grape. The Raffault family has been cultivating vines in Chinon for over 14 generations. The family continues to practice sustainable viticulture. The soils are either plowed or planted with grass, no chemical fertilizers or herbicides are used. J-M Raffault’s Rosé is considered the finest in the Loire Valley. It is 100% Cab Franc and the fruit is dedicated to the rosé at the start of the harvest, picked with a degree less of sugar and entering the press only by gravity, not pumped. To ensure the juice is as pure as possible, minimal pressure is used and only the juice from the middle stage of the pressing is used. What we’re left to cheers with is a pale peachy pink wine with bright notes of apricot and pistachio shells on the palate and a lingering finish. This is the time to enjoy this beautiful unique rosé.
2015 Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy, Sancerre
Reverdy’s family dates as far back as 1600. Traditional in nature, the farm was planted with multiple crops, the Reverdy’s raised goats and made only small quantities of wine from their vines for local consumption. At the end of WWII sauvignon blancs and pinot noirs started gaining popularity in Paris and the Reverdy’s grew with the demand. After tasting a Sancerre Rouge from the Domaine, Kermit Lynch renown wine imported convinced of the quality, asked Michel Reverdy to craft him a rouge aged in the traditional demi-muids (600-liter oak barrels typically used in the Rhone Valley) and unfiltered. Since then, the Reverdy rouge is talk of Sancerre, one of a kind. Very little of this wine is imported and we are fortunate to be able to have it here at our little shop. The 2015 vintage was ideal, spring rains lead into a warm dry summer. The result is a gorgeous delicate pinot noir with notes of fraise du bois, spice and minerality. This pinot stands apart from Burgundy pinots with how it showcases the terroir of the Loire Valley. The silky texture can come only come from a pinot noir grown in limestone soil.