How do some old favorites hold up? Let's find out!
Jacques Puffeney Vin Jaune 1996:
This was opened at least two years ago, and was tucked back in the corner of the kitchen. Only a glass was left. I remember it being delicious two years ago, but it was overly oxidized and not showing great.
Pouchoullin Brézème Rouge 1997:
For those who aren't Eric Texier historians, Mr Pouchoulin was his inspiration for reviving the completely forgotten region. Mr. Pouchoulin was a factory worker, but had always kept an hectare of red and a little of bit of Roussane that he vinified traditionally himself. Eric somehow discovered him, was mesmerized by the wines and place and decided he had to work there.
A slightly dusty and musky nose at first, followed by pepper spice and balance on nose. Translucent but developed color. Medium body, nice acidity that lasts on finish. Pepper on mid-palate. Overall a fantastic bottle that kept getting better. Decanted an hour and half before drinking.
Franck Peillot Roussette du Bugey Altesse 2001:
Golden, advanced color without notes of obvious oxidation. Petrol on nose, which apparently Franck doesn't like but I found nice. Also Peach pit (God I hate writing about wine like this..). Rich, round body, slight petrol on mid-palate, great acidity and long, long finish. Another winner.
2004 Roilette Cuvée Tardive 2004:
Bottle was a Tardive even though the label doesn't mention it. This was pretty closed off when Alain opened it in his cellar, but got real good quick. The Roilette wines get a little dusty with age, particularly on the nose, but once the fruit came out it was unstoppable. Brownish color:
Total "pinotisation". Yum.
For the first time in the three and a half years since our new site launched, I am taking a summer hiatus from writing the blog. While there may be sporadic posts here and there (at this point I've forgotten what NOT writing here feels like), they will be inconsistent at best.
The good news is that this extended break will only mean an accumulation of new interviews and visits, but also time for us to reflect on new forms of content for the producers we (and hopefully you!) love. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for our grand entrance into a popular form of digital expression we've been mysteriously absent of for so long...
Have a great summer everybody!
When I harvested at Clos Roche Blanche back in October, I got to hang out and get to know Les Maisons Brûlées' new proprietors, Paul and Corinne Gillet. As it turns out, they are super cool. This recap will confirm that.
We began our visit with Paul giving us an introduction of the estate. 8 hectares of vines are co-planted with nine varietals: Gamay and Sauvignon Blanc represent about 50% of the plantings, but Chardonnay, Menu Pineau, Pinot noir, Pineau d'Aunis, Côt, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are also grown. The soils are clay and flint topsoils with limestone subsoils. Most of the vines are right around the house, on the hillsides of the Cher valley. Another 2.5 ha are on a lower plateaux. The hillsides are some of the best terroirs in the area as they are on mother rock and have great exposition.
Paul and Corinne took over the estate in 2013 from Michel Augé, a pioneer of organic and biodynamic viticulture in the area. Biodiversity in the vineyard was his life's work; Michel used to have a lot more vines, but realized that ones closest to his house had almost no neighboring vines and were surrounded by woods, meaning no chemical overlap and a better environment for biodiversity.
After walking past some 55 year old Gamay and Pineau d' Aunis, you reach the plateau at the bottom of the hill.
The area was mostly pruned, although Paul left several plants untouched in order to practice selection massale and replace dead vines. As you can see from some of the pictures, the area is surrounded by woods, which helps enormously with microbial biodiversity, encouraging the right bacteria to grow into the root systems.
Michel had planted a little bit of Gamay and Sauvignon here in franc de pied. This was an experiment. The vines are about ten years old, so the next few years will be integral in seeing if it works out on this type of soil, since it's usually around 10 years of age that vines begin to experience issues with phylloxera.
From the plateau, we started walking over to the Herdeleau coteau. But before that, we had to say hello to Paul's horse Danseur!
Am I the only one that feels like his mane is dyed like an 80's heavy metal bro?
Keep in mind he's not even three yet and this is what he looked like when he was born:
They grow up so fast.
Anyway, we then found ourselves on the beautiful Herdeleau coteau!
Depending where you are on the hill, you get closer or further from calcareous sub soil. On the hillsides the soils are fairly poor, which is why vineyards have been planted here for centuries, as nothing else would grow on them. Old Pinot noir, Pinot d'Aunis and Gamay are grown here and produce the R2L'O cuvée, as well Côt and Cabernet Franc that produce Érèbe.
We then walked back to the vinification cellar, which is tiny. Check out that sweet caricature of Paul done last year at Vini Circus.
Here we tasted 2014 R2L'O which was INSANE, some Sauvignon and an orange wine experiment called Ça Me Plait:
About ten kilometers away, Paul barrel ages his wines and stores his bottles in this gorgeous quarry:
Tuffeau limestone from this quarry helped build much of the local landscape in the 19th century, then became a mushroom growing space in the 1930's. The quarry is HUGE, and goes on for about 5 kilometers! Paul and Corinne only use the front of it, but technically rent the entire thing. Paul offered us a tour through this veritable labyrinth, but warned there was no light and we'd need to use our phones to get around.
Fascinatingly, many archives of the mushroom's growing schedules are still painted and pencilled on the walls:
Perfect setting for a horror movie.
It was time to taste bottled wines and eat lunch. We started with Alterité, a pet nat made with Cabernet Sauvignon.
For those of you who are fans of the estate from the Michel Augé days, here's a glimpse of the new Maisons Brûlées labels:
Corinne had set up a beautiful long table for us to taste and eat.
Along with grilled sausages, potato and lentil salads, the group was sated with one of the biggest bowls of rillettes I've ever seen.
And let's not forget the biggest cheese OF ALL TIME.
Upon arrival to Mosse headquarters, we kind of freaked out these two journalists who were there to write a piece about the estate.
After a big hello with Agnès and René, their son Joseph took us out to the vineyards.
Joseph is the young man on the left of the picture above. He's 25, had just returned from working with Louis-Antoine Luyt for a year, is obsessed with sneakers and is poised to take over when his parents retire.
When we told him that my car had gotten obsessed with "Fresh Prince" by Soprano (click that hyperlink if you're a fan of the Will Smith sitcom. Totally worth it), he told us that that song was terrible commercial rap and played us something really good that I forgot. Though it was reminiscent to one of my favorite french rap songs of all time, "La Rue Cause" by Karlito (RIP DJ Medhi).
The Mosse family doesn't have any dogs, so here is a picture of one of their chickens.
The first vineyard we visited was a parcel of 10 year old vines that contributes to the production of the base Anjou Blanc.
Joseph explained that the majority of the region is defined by clay topsoil with schist subsoils, with the amount of topsoil schist composition (chunks, pebbles, sand) varying on where you are on the hillsides. There are lots of grains grown in the area as well as a fair amount of cattle raising. For the young vines, they do a very short pruning in order to limit yields from the get go. This helps to avoid having to green harvest later in the year.
All of the Mosse's vineyards are located in the Coteaux-du-Layon, an area defined by the abundant hillsides that curve and bend alongside the Layon river. The hills help induce humidity in the morning but also make for very warm afternoons; this helps botrytis thrive, which explains why the area has historically produces sweet wines from noble rot.
From the young parcel, we drove to Le Rouchefer, a parcel that sees its own cuvée.
Le Rouchefer is a 1.6 hectare parcel of 40 year old Chenin Blanc grown on iron heavy clay and gravel on schist, with pebbles and quartz at bottom. As you can see from the photo below, large chunks of schist are easily found on the top-soil.
Directly across the road from the Le Rouchefer, one finds the lovely Marie Besnard vineyard.
These crazy vines are over 100 years old!!!
René briefly made a Marie Besnard cuvée, but the vines have become so low yielding that he now blends them with Le Rouchefer. Also, for reasons unknown to Joseph, the vineyard is named after Marie Besnard, a local woman accused of poisoning 12 people from 1927 to 1949. If you're curious about her, you can get an in-depth bio on her murderpedia page.
The final vineyard we visited was Les Bonnes Blanches, from an area widely considered to be the best terroir in the Layon.
As you can see, this was the only vineyard the Mosse hadn't yet pruned.
The reasons why this is considered the best is two-fold: first is its geologically ideal proximity to the Layon. This is one of the rare vineyards that can produce an excellent Coteaux-du-Layon every year, but the Mosse intentionally harvest earlier to produce dry whites. The second is that the soils are composed of shallow decomposing schist and quartz on schist rock, so the roots of the vineyards' 40 year old vines can get exceptionally deep, providing an unparalleled amount of minerality in the wine.
After a solid vineyard tour, we got to taste all the 2014 barrel samples as well as some yet to be released 2013's (many of which have now hit the market).
Everything is smack dab delicious, including a CURVEBALL TWIST with the 2014 Magic of Juju, which is now 90% Melon de Bourgogne (WAAAAA????)!!!
More importantly, we ate the ultimate casse-croute lunch thanks to this butcher:
In that pot were some fantastic rillettes. But the ham, rillons, cheese and butter were nothing to scoff at!
So simple. So hearty. So good.
After lunch, we checked out the cellar.
The entirety of the Mosse production ferments and ages in old oak barrels, often for a really long time. Malo is a prerequisite on the whites, and often happens on the reds as well. The extended lees contact on the whites gives it a weight and unctuousness that take the wines to the next level. Also, René leaves a radio on 24/7/365 so that the barrels can listen to music at all times.
As we set up to say goodbye, the whole thing got very hug-centric: