Category Archives: Loire

Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme, Touraine

For years Thierry Puzelat did double duty, helping his brother run the great family domaine, Clos du Tue-Boeuf, and a negoçiant side project that just bore his own name. Needing help with the second winery, Thierry hired Pierre-O Bonhomme, a teenager who had recently dropped out of high school to pursue a career in wine (try that in the U.S.!). Pierre-O proved to be a prodigy and gradually took on more responsibility at the domaine, now rechristened as Puzelat-Bonhomme.
Fast-forward again to 2013, and Pierre-O took over entirely from Thierry, who had returned fully to Clos du Tue-Boeuf on his brother’s retirement.
Since that time, Pierre-O has continued making wine in the same natural and organic manner, growing from 4.5 hectares of his own vines and 3.5 that he rents. Per Louis-Dressner, “In the cellar, Pierre-O learned everything from Thierry Puzelat and there are obvious parallels with the Tue-Boeuf wines. With the exception of some recently released macerated whites, almost all of the white wines are direct-pressed, then ferment and age in old barrels. The reds see a whole-cluster, semi-carbonic fermentation and then elevage in old barrel. Tiny amounts of SO2 are only added at bottling and if deemed necessary, more often on the whites than the the reds. Even the the entry-level Telquel is usually bottled sans-souffre.”

Core Wines…

Pierre-O Bonhomme Touraine Sauvignon

Pierre-O Bonhomme “KO – In Côt We Trust”

Pierre-O Bonhomme “Le Telquel”

Domaine Mabillot, Reuilly

Alain Mabillot is a farmer at heart, in fact most of his farm in Reuillyis dedicated to grain crops. In 1991, he purchased 5 hectares of vines in the region and began making wine at a shared co-op space. A small affair, especially compared to Mabillot’s 500 hectares of tillage, the winegrowing is now in the hands of Alain’s sons Matthieu and Renaud. Since taking over in 2008, the two began the process of converting to organic/sustainable agriculture and have steadily improved the character of the wines, focusing on expression of Reuilly’s agrilo-calcaire and silicaceous terroir.

Core Wines…

Mabillot Reuilly Blanc

Mabillot Reuilly Blanc “Le Haut de la Pente”

Lucien Crochet, Sancerre

It was Lucien’s marriage to the daughter of Lucien Picard, and the subsequent fusion of the domaines of Lucien Picard and André Crochet (father of Lucien), that created the Domaine Lucien Crochet. Monsieur Picard was one of the very first growers in the Sancerre district to begin bottling his wines and selling them primarily to restaurants in Paris. Lucien Crochet expanded the work of his father-in-law and, over a thirty year period, also expanded the domaine so that it now encompasses 38 hectares of vineyards, almost all of which are located in the village of Bué with smaller holdings in the neighboring villages of Vinon and Crézancy. Twenty-nine hectares are planted to Sauvignon Blanc and the remaining 9 hectares are planted to Pinot Noir. The soils are clay and limestone from the Oxfordian and Kimmeridgian eras. The vineyards are on slopes of varying severity and run from south-east to south to southwest in their exposure to the sun. Since 1989 only organic supplements have been used in the vineyards which are planted to a density of between 6600 (older plantings) to 8700 vines per hectare. The harvest is manual, the soil is worked immediately around the vine but the growth in the rows between the vines remains throughout the growing season.

Core Wines…

Lucien Crochet Sancerre Blanc

Lucien Crochet Sancerre “La Croix du Roy”

Lucien Crochet Sancerre “La Chêne”

Lucien Crochet Sancerre “Cuvée LC”

Domaine Huet, Vouvray

If Vouvray had a Bordeaux-style classification, there’s no doubt that Domaine Huet would be a First Growth, along with Philippe Foreau’s Clos Naudin. Young by Loire standards, the domaine was established in 1928 and over the next few decades acquired three of the best sites in the appellation: Le Haut-Lieu, Le Mont, and Clos du Bourg. Each site is farmed with the single focus of expressing its terroir in the finished wines, regardless of the degree of sweetness. Where sweetness is concerned, that’s determined by the way each parcel of each vineyard responds to the vintage. From bone dry to moelleux to botrydized, these are iconic wines across the board.

Core Wines…

Huet Vouvray “Le Haut Lieu”, sec, demi-sec, moelleux, 1ère trie

Huet Vouvray “Le Mont”, sec, demi-sec, moelleux, 1ère trie

Huet Vouvray “Clos du Bourg”, sec, demi-sec, moelleux, 1ère trie

Huet Vouvray Pétillant

Huet Vouvray “Cuvée Constance”

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 Tué-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.

Core Wines…

Villemade Cheverny Blanc

Villemade Cheverny Rouge

Villemade VdF Sauvignon

Villemade VdF Gamay

Villemade Cour-Cheverny “Les Saules”

Domaine Guion, Bourgueil

Stephane Guion lives in the tiny hamlet of Bernais, a few minutes’ drive from the town of Bourgueil. His house and winery are both built from limestone that was quarried from a nearby hill; the other side of that hill happens to be where Domaine Guion’s vineyard is located. The man literally lives and breathes his terroir every day. Certified organic in 1994, the domaine has been fully practicing organic viticulture and natural winemaking since 1965.

Core Wines…

Domaine Guion Bourgueil “Cuvée Domaine”

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 massale and no nursery clones are used; the vines are an average of 35 years old.

Core Wines…

Pinon Vouvray “Les Trois Argiles”

Pinon Vouvray “Silex Noir”

Pinon Vouvray Petillant Brut

François Cazin, Le Petit Chambord, Cheverny

François Cazin tends vines of considerable age and the resulting yields are well below average in any given year. His Cheverny is fresh and floral, with appley texture and crisp acidity. The flavors are sleek and precise. Since 1997, the wine has been bottled unfiltered by gravity. His wines have consistently been the top pick of the vintage at the annual Loire Valley wine show in Angers. Cazin also makes a cuvée of Cour-Cheverny, exclusively from the ancient local grape Romorantin. This varietal, with its high acidity and minerality, is angular and rough in mediocre vintages. But when it achieves high ripeness, the wine has astonishing grapey, apricot and roasted nuts flavors, kept fresh and lively by good acidity. In very ripe vintages, when the grapes undergo passerillage or noble rot, Cazin vinifies some of his Romorantin off-dry, calling it Cuvée Renaissance.

Core Wines…

Cazin Cheverny Blanc

Cazin Cour-Cheverny Blanc

Cazin Cour-Cheverny Cuvée Renaissance

Domaine de Pallus, Chinon

Deftly juggling responsibilities in both Chinon and Ribera del Duero, Bertrand Sourdais splits his time between his two wineries, Domaine de Pallus and Antidoto. Though he grew up at Palluos, Sourdais didn’t take over the domaine until 2003 when his father retired. Since that time, the domaine has been remade according to Betrand’s principles, with Biodynamics introduced in the vineyard, minimal work in the cellar to allow the terroir of the vineyards to show through, and very long macerations. The result is profound, with Pallus yielding some of the finest and deepest wines in the appellation.

Core Wines…

Domaine de Pallus Chinon Rouge “Messanges”

Domaine de Pallus Chinon “Les Pensées de Pallus”

Domaine de Pallus Chinon “La Croix Boisées”

Domaine Luneau-Papin, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine

Pierre and Monique Luneau-Papin are the eighth generation of winemakers at this estate in the heart of the Muscadet appellation. It is a region where much bulk wine is produced, however this estate produces small cuvées from 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 (still rare in the region).

Core 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”