Natural Wine Company

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Category: Loire (page 1 of 2)

Domaine Girard, Sancerre

The Girard family tends 12 hectares of vines in total, sell some cuvées to négoçants and bottle only a portion of their production under their own name. Their La Garenne cuvée comes from a 2.5-hectare vineyard of that name, a plot on a steep east-facing slope with a very rocky limestone soil. The chalky soil brings out the characteristic flinty, mineral and green notes of Sauvignon Blanc. On La Garenne’s well-drained, warm slopes, the grapes achieve exceptional ripeness and fruit.

The Girards have an impeccable cuverie and vinify with modern technology: a pneumatic press, stainless-steel vats, a temperature control system during fermentation, and an air-conditioned space for aging in vats and stocking bottles. They counterbalance technology by practicing old-fashioned vineyard work, where herbicides and treatments are used sparingly, and by never adding commercial yeasts to induce fermentation or add flavors.

 

Wines:

Domaine Girard “La Garenne” Sancerre

 

Domaine de Bellivière, Jasnières

Eric Nicolas, a city kid without any roots in either the region or in agriculture, developed a passion for vines and wines, and after studying oenology, he looked in the Loire to acquire vineyards, mainly because he had met several passionate winemakers there. Eric and his wife Christine found an estate with some vines, but mostly grazing fields, trees and grains. They nurtured the existing old vines and did a lot of planting, to get to their current 14 hectares, scattered over the territory of 6 villages. They now use sélection massale (cuttings from old vines) rather than clones, and plant at a density of 9,300 vines per hectare.

Located about 30 miles north of the city of Tours, the Jasnières and Coteaux-du-Loir AOC’s (37 and 48 hectares respectively) are isolated at the edges of three provinces: Maine, Anjou and Touraine. They are also the most northern viticultural areas in the west of France (in the east, only Chablis, Champagne and Alsace are further north).

Wines (note that these can be very limited):

Domaine de Bellivière Les Rosiers Jasnières

Domaine de Belliviere Confluence Blanc

VDFDomaine de Belliviere Castor Rouge VDF

 

 

Hervé Villemade, Cheverny

Hervé Villemade has been working his family’s vines in Cellettes since taking over from his father in 1995. Today, the estate represents about 22 hectares of organically farmed fruit, all within the Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny AOCs. When Hervé first took over the estate, everything was farmed chemically and vinified conventionally. Unaware of an alternative, he followed in his parents’ footsteps but quickly found his work “uninspired and bland.” Around 1997, Hervé was introduced to the wines of Marcel Lapierre and Clos du Tue-Boeuf, which immediately struck a chord with him. Coincidentally, at the exact same time that he was discovering these wines, Hervé started developing a very serious allergy to sulfur. The sulfur had to go, and first attempts at sulfur-free vinifications quickly led to the conclusion that to make wine this way, you needed high quality grapes. So in 2000, Hervé decided to convert the estate to organic viticulture.

Wines:

Hervé Villemade Cheverny Rosé

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Domaine Olga Raffault, Chinon

Since Olga’s death a few years ago, Domaine Olga Raffault is run by her granddaughter Sylvie and Sylvie’s husband Eric de la Vigerie. The estate has terrific plots of land in the Savigny-en-Véron district hard by the Vienne riverbanks. The ‘les Picasses’ vineyard stands out from the rest: old vines of 50-ish years on a fairly steep slope from the riverbank that is alluvial clay with a chalk limestone base. The fruit is particularly expressive of dark fruits of cassis and dark cherries with a terrific mineral content and good acidity for structure. The wines age impressively, to the extent that the domaine will occasionally release older vintages from their cellars; recent releases include 1979 and 1987.

Wines:

Domaine Olga Raffault Chinon “Les Picasses”

Domaine Olga Raffault Chinon Rosé

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Thomas-Labaille, Sancerre

Winemaker Claude Thomas finally retired in his late 70s when son-in-law, Jean-Paul Labaille, took over as vigneron. Since then, only minimal changes have occurred. The vineyards remain among the best in Chavignol, with a large proportion of old vines. The Monts Damnés plot is too steep a slope to ever consider machine harvesting, which is now the norm in the appellation, and it requires intensive, non-mechanized vineyard work. But the slope receives excellent drainage and exposure, which ensure the best ripeness for the vintage. Jean-Paul Labaille creates in a Burgundian type of cellar. Some cuvées still age in large concrete vats, others in stainless-steel. The oak barrels have been re-placed by newer ones two to three years old, not to impart any oaky character to the wine, but rather to let it breathe and evolve slowly on its lees.

Wines:

Thomas Labaille Sancerre “Authentique”

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Château Soucherie, Layon

The Tijou family has a long history as viticulteurs in the Loire Valley region near Angers. In fact, they have practiced their craft, father to son, since 1780. The actual Domaine de la Soucherie was purchased from the Marquis de Brissac in 1952. At the time almost all the wine produced at the Domaine was sold to the negoçiant firm of Nicholas. Pierre-Yves Tijou, the current proprietor, took over the management of the estate in 1969 and began to bottle a portion of the production. Today, the entire production is estate-bottled. The domaine is composed of 30 hectares of vineyards, four of which are within the highly coveted area of “Chaume” and 1.80 of which are within the confines of the Savennières appellation in the “Clos des Perriers”. Approximately 18.5 hectares of the domaine is planted to Chenin Blanc; there are also 7 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc; and there are small parcels of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Gamay.

Core Wines (others available, please inquire):

Château Soucherie Anjou Blanc “Cuvée Les Rangs de Longue”

Château Soucherie Anjou Rouge

Château Soucherie Loire Rosé

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Chais Saint Laurent, Touraine

Chais Saint Laurent is a “Petit Négociant” specializing in wines from the Loire Valley and focused on producing small quantities from select vineyards. Estate manager Jean Mounard has significantly raised the bar in terms of the quality of the wines, while maintaining a truly remarkable price/quality ratio. Also, by tapping his connections at some better quality cellars in the region, he has created wines that display a real sense of their underlying appellations and are made with a balance and delineation usually found in much more expensive wines. While there are certainly many Loire wines at this quality level, we don’t think you’ll find them anywhere near these prices.

Wines:

Saint Laurent Touraine Sauvignon “Les Jarriers”

Saint Laurent Sancerre Blanc “Les Varennes du Clos”

Saint Laurent Sancerre Rouge “Les Varennes du Clos”

Saint Laurent Bourgueil “La Chopinière”

 

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Clos Rougeard, Saumur-Champigny

Clos Rougeard has been in the Foucault family for eight generations, with the estate itself dating to at least the mid-1600s (the time from which the earliest documents for the estate date). Run by the brothers Nady and Charly Foucault since 1969, Clos Rougeard has risen to be the single greatest estate in Saumur-Champigny, and arguably one of the great wineries of the world.

Clos Rougeard has never been farmed with chemical intervention and has always been managed using traditional methods, both in the vineyard and winery. The yields are minute, the vinification takes place strictly in very carefully managed barrel system, and the total production is very small and very limited. The result is the ultimate expression of Cabernet Franc (and Chenin Blanc, through the vanishingly rare ’Brèze’ Blanc).

Sadly, Charly Foucault died in December 2015. His brother Nady and wife Françoise will undoubtedly continue to carry on Clos Rougeard’s great traditions.

These wines are extremely limited. Please inquire:

For More Information Visit: Louis Dressner Selections

 

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Domaine Luneau-Papin, Muscadet

Pierre and Monique Luneau-Papin are the eigth generation of winemakers at this estate in the heart Muscadet. It is a region where much bulk wine is produced, however this estate produces smaller cuvées from their several plots, which are always vinified separately to reflect their terroir’s particular character. The estate has a high proportion of old vines and harvest is done by hand (rare in the region).

Wines:

Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie, La Grange Vieilles Vignes

Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie, Clos des Allées

Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie “L d’Or”

For More Information Visit: Louis Dressner Selections

 

François Pinon, Vouvray

The wines of François Pinon are considered among the finest of Vouvray and the land of the estate is rated as a top site. His main focus is “to keep the typicity of both the appellation and the vintage” in all his wines. He follows a discipline of plowing the vineyards, not using chemical fertilizers and pesticides, harvests by hand, and uses no cultured yeasts. All new plantings are done by selection and no nursery clones are used; the vines are an average of 25 years old.

Wines:

Pinon Vouvray Cuvée Tradition

Pinon Vouvray Petillant Brut NV

Pinon Vouvray Petillant Rose Brut NV

For More Information Visit: Louis Dressner Selections

 

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