"I've always been a fan of organic ingredients. Food that has been un-manipulated simply has more character, more content. It has its own energy and power. It simply tastes better."
Giuseppe Ferrua breaks down his past life as a restauranteur, discovering biodynamics, natural wine's relationship with narcissism and much more in his interview.
READ IT HERE!!!!!!
And as an added BONUS, here are some pictures from his 2013 harvest.
Luciano Saetti doesn't like sulfites. In fact, he owns a Sulfite-Free Mobile!
That translates to: "Wine Without Conservatives. Sulfur? No thanks."
Luciano bought his vineyards and house in 1988, after a successful first career as an egg distributor in the city of Modena. He made a good amount of money and originally planned on buying a nice apartment in the city, but the reality of spending the rest of his life there quickly lost its appeal.
We began our visit with a tour of the cellar, where the wines ferment and get bottled.
This is Luciano's completely home-made disgorgement station.
To give us a demonstration of the disgorging process (more on that later), Luciano grabbed some bottles and put them in this vat of ice cold water, which freezes the lees on the top.
As those bottle tops started to freeze, Luciano showed us the rest of the cellar.
At this point, he only works with stainless steel. Originally, everything was fermented and aged everything in cement tanks, but Luciano shifted to stainless after realizing that it was better for sulfur free winemaking, since it drastically reduces oxydation.
Since the vines are 10 km from the the cellar, Luciano brings the mini de-stemmer you can see below to work as quickly and efficiently as possible.
He also brings 3 of those little stainless vats to hold the grapes, which avoids them getting too hot on their way to the cellar.
"I came up with this simply because 3 vats is a day's work".
These smaller tanks are also used for fermentation, a full carbonic that lasts 4 to 5 days. Luciano usually leaves 13 or so grams of RS before racking. The wine then stays minimum 3 months in bottle before disgorgment, though it only takes about a month for the re-fermentation in bottle to occur.
Following our little chat on vinification, Luciano beckoned us over to the disgorgement station, where he showed us how he manually disgorges each bottle of his production ONE BY ONE.
In those two minutes, Luciano explains how he usually puts some wine in a separate vessel to top off the other bottles, that you have to avoid the frozen bits from when the wine sprays out, that the machine gives a blast of air which doesn't go in the bottle, and is just for dusting off any cork particles. He also points out that these bottles haven't frozen enough yet, and therefore won't disgorge correctly.
Because manually disgorging bottles one by one quickly becomes a tedious task, Luciano built this sweet homemade work chair from a horse saddle. I decided to check its comfort to make sure he wasn't putting too much strain on himself.
That chair is JULES APPROVED.
After our cellar time, we drove to Luciano's only vineyard, 3 ha planted in the local Salamino strain of Lambrusco.
The oldest vines here are 50+ and every other row; Luciano replanted the rest in 1997. The soils are limestone with a clay subsoil.
As you may have noticed, the vineyard is set up with an irrigation system, which Luciano uses 3 to 5 times a year, and only on the younger vines (usually with a very light 30L dose each time).
He doesn't use any fertilizers, composts or chemicals, just the remains of cut grass.
There is always the danger of frost in the Spring, but Salamino is a late variety, so this is rarely a problem.
The training system is called Spalliere, which is more typically used for fruit trees.
Here's some shriveled up second growth grapes to give you an idea what Salamino looks like.
Here's the church you can see on Luciano's labels.
Speaking of Luciano's labels, if you've ever seen or felt them, then you know they are made from a very cool fabric. Here again, the story is simple: his friend has factory that adds patched fabric to clothing for a few major brands. Luciano asked him if he could make a wine label, and he said it wouldn't be a problem. These are made to order based on Luciano's periodic disgorgements over the year.
6 months later, here is the final post from last summer! After that, expect recaps from Luciano Saetti, Cantina Giardino, Perrini Organic, Natalino Del Prete and Cristiano Guttarolo, as well as some interviews and other stuff.
Louis/Dressner: We've Got Internet Content™
We began by visiting the parcel of Chenin Blanc that produces the Kharaktêr cuvée.
The soils here are composed of limestone and flint.
Recently, Natalie had to rip out some old vines that were in bad shape and dangerous to work with the tractor.
"If I replant, we will definitely make it parallel to the slope like the rest of the vines."
With those old timers gone, the vines now average 45 years old.
Just a little further up, we drove up to an unassuming path that is actually the geographical divide between Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir. On the CdL side, three 3 parcels of Pineau d'Aunis grow on the same limestone and flint soils as Kharaktêr. The vines here are 35, total .75 ha and interestingly were much taller and developed than the Chenin we'd just seen.
I didn't take any pictures of these for some reason, so you'll just have to take my word for it.
From there, we jumped back into the LDM Mobile to visit the lieu-dit Le Briseau, the site the estate takes its name from.
This was the first piece of land Christian and Natalie purchased after moving from Vouvray. The land represents about 4 ha, with 1.36 ha planted in Chenin Blanc. Le Briseau roughly translates to "the shatterer", as the subsoil consists of a solid layer of flint that is near impossible to penetrate.
"Tractors and teals always break here."
The superficial soils consist of heavy clay mixed with very rocky chunks of flint.
The oldest vines are 60+ years old and produce an insanely low 8hl/h. In really good years this produces the Briseau Blanc, otherwise, as was the case in 2012, the wine is called Patapon Blanc.
Le Briseau is a clos, and this peaceful atmosphere was where our late friend Christian Chaussard liked working the most. In bittersweet fashion, it was here that he had his fatal tractor accident last year. His ashes are buried at the foot of this shelter, just a few feet from the vines.
It's comforting (and admittedly poetic) that Christian would be one with the very soils he loved so much.
Heading back from Le Briseau, we drove back to Natalie's home to taste some currently bottled stuff. I could tell you all about how good everything tasted, but I'd much rather show you PICTURES OF NATALIE'S ADORABLE DOG GROVER!!!
Our final vineyard visit was a quick walk to Le Briseau's other major lieu-dit, Les Mortiers.
The soils here are heavy clay.
Les Mortiers roughly translates to "wet cement", because if it rains, the clay soils become impenetrable after drying up. A lot of impenetrable soils around these parts...
In total, 4 hectares of Pineau d'Aunis are planted here.
We ended our tasting in Natalie's cellar, where we got to taste some stuff, including Kharaktêr 09, 11 and 12, as well as Les Mortiers 11.
Before leaving, Grover made sure to mark his territory on the LDM mobile so other vigneron dogs wouldn't get it twisted.
For this coming round of Italian visits, I am very happy that Eben Lillie of Chambers Street Wines was around to take so many great pictures. Thanks Eben!
For our annual fall tour of Italy, we got things started by visiting Carlo Venturini and Alessandra Zantedeschi of Monte dall' Ora!
They have a pretty sweet backyard.
Yes, that's their mail box. They also have an awesome dog named Vladimir who loves playing with this old soccer ball.
Before setting off to see a newly acquired vineyard, these stacks on stacks on stacks of drying Amarone grapes caught everyone's attention.
These are left in open without temperature control. Carlo does have a big fan constantly blowing on them though, so maybe that counts as temperature control. You tell me.
Carlo was really excited to show us his newly acquired land just above the mountain commune of San Giorgio, which is located on the Northern-most edge of Valpolicella.
The vineyard is completely enclosed by woods, with no neighbors. It is mostly planted in Guyot. The soils consist of limestone rich in iron. Throw in a complimentary full South exposition, and you have all the factors for great terroir.
The vines are 7 years old and planted in Corvina, Corvinone, and Teroldego. Unbeknownst to the group, Teroldego is permitted in Valpolicella vineyards, up to 15%. The vines were being worked chemically and Carlo is converting them to biodynamics. In total this represents 2 hectares.
He is not sure where the grapes from this land will end up for the time being, as this will require experimentation. The eventual goal, once the vines are older, is to make a site specific bottling from this terroir.
Part of the acquisition included a tiny parcel of whites planted in Pergola.
Cortese, Garganega, Chardonnay and a mystery grape are planted here.
"I'll try making a little white this year. I've only tried this once before, and it was the worst thing ever!"
As we were contemplating the beautiful view, a strange sound started galloping towards us. Everyone got freaked out, but we were quickly relieved to know that it was just a horse running freely through the mountain.
I then unsuccessfully tried to convince the group that this was all staged and that we at Louis/Dressner intentionally set up beautiful acts of nature to impress our customers.
Because it was on our way down, Carlo had us stop by San Giorgo, which was built in Roman-Pagan times. Here's the village's beautiful Church.
And here's a beautiful mountain sunset.
The sun was setting fast, but we still had a bit of time to rush over to the Camporenzo vineyard, which produces the Valpolicella cuvée of the same name.
Camporenzo totals 3 hectares and faces east. Everything is grown in Pergola, which is normal for the region. It's also right next to Brad Pitt and Angolina Jolie's villa, a converted old monastery. No word yet if they plan to produce a Valpolicella after the huge success of their first wine, Miraval Rosé.
The soils here are sand with a loose clay subsoil.
By the time we were done with Camporenzo it was pitch black outside, so the natural transition was to head to the cellar.
We started by tasting the base for the 2013 Sasetti (local dialect for "little rock"), but with the late harvest it was so young (we were there in mid-November) that it was hard to taste much more than fresh grape juice.
The Superiore, which macerates in the wood vats you can see above, needs to be foot-trodden once a day. Since we all happened to be there, Carlo figured he'd give us a demonstration.
"Right now the grapes are very soft. With the Amarone, the grapes are much harder and it's much less fun.".
Speaking of the Amarone, drying time is variable. Carlo waits at least until the 1st of January of the next year, and will be February for this year's harvest. It usually takes 10 to 15 days to start the fermentation. In the first few days, Carlo does very little foot treading. After that, he does 3 treadings a day (about 5 hours apart) for 10 days. In the vats, you have approximately 70% skins and 30% juice, which was the opposite of what he was stomping on with the Superiore in the video. The wine then ages 3 years in barrel and one year in bottle before release.
Dinner WAS INSANE, and featured never-ending polenta with anchovies, Valpolicella ravioli (the pasta was made with wine), pork stuffed with pork and Italian Cronuts. It was also a good time to hear Carlo talk of his early experiences in the area. When he first took over what would become Monte dall' Ora, he made a point to chat up all the old timers and ask them how they used to work. The thing that resonated most with him was that:
"When everything was still done by hand, there were way less treatments simply because it meant so much more work (spraying row by row with a heavy backpack). That's also why people started building bigger barrels. 1000 hl at a time is the way to do it!".
First thing's first: go read the BRAND SPANKING NEW interview with Jean Maupertuis on his profile. If you're unfamiliar with Auvergne's viticultural history, you will definitely learn a thing or two.
ON TO THE RECAP:
Two years ago, Jean Maupertuis purchased some vines in the commune of Riom. These are 45 minutes away from his village of Saint-Georges-sur-Allier, so we met him at at edge of an autoroute toll-booth (which admittedly was a bit confusing) to visit these first. Our first stop was a 1,5 hectare plot of Gamay d'Auvergne (a local strain that distinguishes itself by its later maturities and more rustic, peppery flavors) planted right after WW2.
The vineyard directly faces the town of Clermont-Ferrand, which you can see in the background of the above picture. These vines are planted on what was once one of Auvergne's most celebrated coteaux: designated as the Madargues cru, this was reportedly one of Louis XVI's favorite wines and was extremely popular in 17th century Paris. Today, only 12 h still remain in the cru (now a sub-appellation of the Auvergne AOC) and this is the only parcel left on this coteau.
The plot is wedged between expensive suburban houses.
"I don't know how long vineyards like this can last in the long run. This land is worth 5000 euros as a vineyard, and 1 million euros as a building site for housing."
The soils consist of white sands.
Grapes from this parcel go into the La Plage cuvée, which translates to "the beach". Get it?
The next plot of land we visited was a short drive away, all Gamay planted in even sandier soils.
It's this parcel that inspired the name La Plage, as the sands are the exact same you'd find on, well, a beach.
"Even the herbs that grow here look like the beach!"
The last parcel we visited from Riom is home to the Pinot Noir that produces Neyrou.
I immediately noticed a training system for the vines that I'd never seen before, which Jean defined as "En Lyre" training:
Essentially, "En Lyre" is a double palissage with nothing in the middle, permitting both sides to get optimal aeration and sun.
It quickly went out of fashion because this training system is impossible to work mechanically, and has therefore all but disappeared. According to Jean, it takes about 7 years to properly shape one. The vines here are 25 years old.
Another reason it became unpopular is due to the fact that you're getting grapes on both sides of each row, which automatically translates to low yields since one root is essentially sharing the work of two vines. Jean says that his Gamay and Pinot Noir planted in En Lyre produce teeny-tiny grapes, but that they are unbelievably full of concentration.
The vines here are exposed full South, and planted on clay heavy soils.
Jean has yet to work these soils, but plans to do so in the coming year. When he acquired these in 2011, they were abandoned and completely surrounded with extremely high thorns.
"It took a crew of 5 an entire month to clean everything up!"
The next morning, we set off to vineyards just a few minutes from Jean's home.
This 1.2 h parcel of Gamay was almost on some Clos Roche Blanche levels of flower-power!
All of these are wild flowers. The vines themselves were planted in the 60's and the soils are limestone.
The final parcel Denyse and I checked out produces the Pierres Noires cuvée. Zaggy was loving all the open space to run around in.
The soils here are all volcanic ash and debris.
Clermond-Ferrand can once again be spotted in the background.
The vines here are 60-70 years old and average 25 to 30 hl/h yields.
After a beautiful morning, we stepped into yet another contender for "smallest cellar in the universe".
Yup. That's all of it.
One thing that was sweet was this home-made spit bucket with a gutted bowl going placed on top of a vase.
Jean had already bottled all of his 2012's, which we gleefully re-tasted before setting off. They were quite nice.
"You need nerves of steel to not give up when the weather is so unfavorable; this is the burden of the vigneron, who we sometimes forget are completely "climate-dependant"... In hindsight, however, this enticed renewed modesty and humility to the fascinating work we do every year."
READ AGNÈS AND RENÉ MOSSE'S 2013 HARVEST REPORT.
READ DOMAINE BERNARD BAUDRY'S HARVEST REPORT.
Still a lot of harvest reports coming in. Domaine de Souch still hasn't harvested their late harvest Petit Manseng! DAYUM!
Anyway, the very wordy Eric Texier and Eric Nicholas give you the rundown on their 2013's.
ERIC TEXIER 2013!
It's looking like most viticultural areas are having drastically different 2013's. From extremely challenging to terrific, it seems like this last year will have run the gamut and pushed our growers to the limit. Globally though, things are looking good.
CÀ DE NOCI!!!
I apologize for the lack of updates over the last two weeks; the LDM crew has just returned from an inspiring tour of Italy, which will generate some beautiful recaps and pictures from Monte dall' Ora, Elisabetta Foradori, Nüsserhof, Luciano Saetti, Perrini, Cantina Giardino, Natalino del Prete and Cristiano Guttarolo. And while soaking in these (quantitatively) less than favorable accounts from the ever-poetic Olivier de Moor and Anne Houillon, take comfort in the fact that 2013 is going to be an incredible vintage in the vast majority of Italy, particularly Puglia.
ALICE AND OLIVER de MOOR RECAP
MAISON PIERRE OVERNOY RECAP
PREVIOUS ENTRY: FRANÇOIS CAZIN IN CHEVERNY
Puzelat time! After a quick hello with Thierry and Jean-Marie, we headed straight to the Clos du Tue-Boeuf, the lieu-dit the estate is named after. The first part of the clos we visited were the three parcels that go into the Gravotte cuvée.
The three plots total 1h, and Thierry blends them together because of similarities in their soil composition. Gravotte is a small coteau of eroded clay and flint with shallow, chalky limestone, all planted in Pinot Noir.
The vines are 36 years old, and Thierry has recently ripped out a bunch of very old Chardonnay and Pinot Gris in the same area to replant Pinot Noir (all from massale, sourced from Caillière, Gravotte, Hervé Villemade's Ardilles parcel and Prieuré-Roch).
This will effectively double Gravotte's production in coming years.
Just a little further, the plots that produce Caillière (also planted exclusively in Pinot Noir) awaited us.
The soils here are composed of red, sandy clay.
As you can see from the pictures above and below, they are much less absorbent than Gravotte.
Still marching onwards, we crossed this little path to check out some Sauvignon Gris.
When I pointed out that the whole area felt extremely closed off, Thierry explained:
"The land costs nothing here so we bought everything around us to keep the trees and ensure nothing would ever get cut down. We didn't want to lose the biodiversity."
The Sauvignon Rose here was planted in 1998, when René Mosse used to work at the estate. It used to be woods, which Thierry's team cut down before planting the following Spring.
Some older Gamay used to be planted here as well, but Thierry recently ripped them out.
"They were shitty clones from the 70's. They had poor vegetal matter and were always sick."
Gamay will be re-planted here in massale.
From the Sauvignon, we took a quick drive upwards, which eventually led us to Frileuse.
If you haven't noticed yet, many of the Tue-Boeuf cuvées are made from micro lieu-dits within the lieu-dit of Clos du Tue-Boeuf. Also, this is the visit recap where the term lieu-dit has been used the most. So there.
Frileuse roughly translates to "the little cold one", and unsurprisingly, it's the parcel that gets the coldest, so frost is often an issue here. The soils are clay and flint, and less compact than Gravotte. The site is 2h: one in Sauvignon, the other in Chardonnay.
We then drove around for a while, passing by the Buisson Pouilleux, some of Pierre-O's recently purchased Touraine vines, the Guerrerie parcel and Brin de Chèvre, a plot of old vine Menu Pineau planted in 1934.
"I work the very old parcels by horse due to their fragility. A tractor easily rips them out of the ground or breaks them."
Still talking about Brin de Chèvre, Thierry explained that the windy climate and solid clay mean that (due to Menu Pineau being a late harvest grape), this is usually where they harvest last.
"This grape is super resistant. Esca has never been a problem and it resists mildew. The three really local varieties -Menu Pineau, Romorantin and Pineau D'Aunis- are always the most resistant to illness. Gamay and Sauvignon have only been planted here for 100 years, and they are always sick. This is why we've started replanting only these old varieties."
Still driving around, we passed a Gamay parcel where Olivier Lemasson was working. It would have been rude not to say hello, so we did.
This parcel planted on a very similar terroir to Frileuse.
After an extensive tour of the vines, it was time to taste, which didn't take very long since their is so little wine in 2012. Here's a picture of the TOTAL production of Frileuse.
That's right, 3 barrels. It tasted good. Additionally, there is only one barrel of Buisson Pouilleux, which also tasted good.
An exceptional rosé was produced in 12:
"We decided to make rosé because many parcels were hailed on. The tannins would have made the wine too harsh for a red."
Also, the little bit of Guerrerie Gamay harvested was consolidated into La Butte.
After ALL that tasting, we headed to the famed L'Herbe Rouge with Thierry, Jean=Marie, Pierre-O Bonhomme and Olivier Lemasson for lunch. This happened:
We also ate some good food, but that's inconsequential. Points of conversation included:
-A lot of growers working conventionally are slowly going out of business, as evidenced by Olivier Lemasson being able to buy old vine Côt, Gamay and Grolleaux from guys who have quit over the last 10 years.
-The Puzelat-Bonhomme négoce will change to Domaine Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme as of the 2013 vintage. This has been years in the making: Jean-Marie is a few years away from retiring, and Thierry, who will now be alone at Tue-Boeuf, has decided to focus his energy entirely on his family estate (on top of his importing business and running a successful wine bar in Orléans). Pierre-O made many of the 2011 wines and all of the 2012 wines on his own, and both parties feel that he is ready to step up to the plate. Fan favorites like Le Telquel, Rouge est Mis and Tesnière Pineau d'Aunis will still be in full effect.
-As of early 2013, Pineau D'Aunis is officially de-classified from use in the Touraine AOC.
"If you start a new plantation in Sauvignon or Pinot Noir, you get a 10,000 euro subsidy from the minister of agriculture. If you plant Pineau d'Aunis, you get nothing."
We also talked about the late Chistian Chaussaurd and Thierry's time as professors at the viticultural school of Ambroise. Cho-Cho was there for 5 years, Thierry for 3.
"On our own we were bad enough, but the combination of the two of us is what got us fired!"
Apparently, telling people to use less sulfur and native yeasts didn't go over too well...
Here are some completely unrelated pictures of Thierry's new puppy Horatio.
After lunch, Pierre-O drove us over to the really, really cool, 100+ year old Probilière parcel.
The soils here are composed of very fine clay and flint.
Some of the vines here are Gamay Teinturier, one of the only red pulped grapes in the world.
Some marcottage was going on.
The prior owner was pumping tons of chemicals into the vines, and was getting up to 100 hl/h yields off of 12 canes!!! Pierre-O has converted the parcel to organics, reduced the amounts of canes to 6 and had 40 hl/h yields in 2011.
Next up, we're heading way up North to Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir to visit Eric and Christine Nicholas at Domaine de Bellivière!
The name of this video, "An Interpretive Dance For Wine Lovers Set To Kanye West's Gone", initially sent chills down my spine. However, the twogirlsonepint produced piece is shockingly entertaining and made my day. Nadia has some serious moves!
UPDATE: I just found out that this is an internet meme. So this may not be as original as I'd imagined, but seeing Nadia's mom dancing in the vineyards is still pretty amazing.
You should also check out the 40+ pictures of the Cotar's family's beautiful harvest.
PREVIOUS ENTRY: HERVÉ VILLEMADE IN CELLETTES
RE-READ A RECAP OF OUR VISIT IN JANUARY, 2012. FULL OF FASCINATING INFORMATION!!!!!
It's kind of nuts when you think about about it, but we've been working with François Cazin for over 20 years! That's two decades of Romo for the American people, and François's discovery is a pretty funny story.
According to David Lillie of Chambers Street Wines (then working as Loire kingpin at Garnet Wine and Spirits), he and my father were at the Salons des Vins de Loire in the early 90's, looking for a Cheverny producer. They were so jazzed about finding a new vigneron that after word got around, the department of the Loir-et Cher decided to start an annual festival in hopes of attracting more American importers.
It just so happened that the Cheverny AOC had its own section (a rectangular stand of producers that still exists today), and in a completely improvised maneuver, David and Joe tasted alone, starting in opposite directions, trying all 15 producers before comparing notes. Without saying who it was, both agreed that only one truly stuck out of the pack. It was none other than Thierry Puzelat!
Just kidding, it was totally François.
Speaking of François (who after all is the subject of this post), look at some pictures of his nice house!
His cat Boinko didn't trust us, choosing to stay high in the trees.
The first parcel we visited .7h of young Romorantin planted in 2003.
François planted these in the fall, which is unusual since vines are usually planted in the early summer, because you don't want them to be in their infancy going into the winter. But due to the exceptionally hot 2003 vintage, it ended up working in his favor. Winning!
François has just started working the soils on these youngin's.
2013 is shaping to be another challenging year due to too much grass, in itself due to too much rain. Like everyone else, François is fearing hail, especially after their devastating 2012.
A little further on the same site are some older Romorantin vines from 1958.
Past the 1958 Romo, Sauvignon Rose is planted in sand soils, along with more young Romo that will go into production this year.
ROMO FACTOID 1: You can easily spot a Romorantin vine by its red canes.
ROMO FACTOID 2: Romorantin vines are highly affected by winds, because the (red) canes are very soft and could easily snap off. To counteract this, François has started using polyester lines instead of barb wire because they are more flexible, thus offering better grip.
The third parcel we drove to consists of Pinot Noir and Romorantin.
This was one of the first plots François rented when he started in 1980. He now owns it, and has replanted Pinot where Sauvignon used to be. The soils are composed of limestone and sandy clay.
The buds here were just starting to flower.
We then drove to a parcel of Chardonnay on heavy clay soils planted in 1976. A team of two guys on the tractor were doing a décavaillonage, the process of removing soil formed around the base of a vine, thus permitting aeration in warmer months.
"You have to do it with 2 people, because with this much grass, it's impossible to see what you're doing from the driver's seat."
The last parcel we visited was right by the Cazin's house, 85 year old Romorantin planted in in 1928.
"These are as old as my dad! They were planted by grandfather the year he was born."
These are apparently the oldest vines of Romorantin in Cheverny, and therefore THE WORLD. Everything has to be done manually here, because of solid coat of limestone directly underneath the superficial soil.
It goes without saying that these are 100% in massale, and François swears that these are in better shape than the vast majority of his other vines.
"The clonal selection on the other side of the house is much younger, but there is way more mortality."
We ended the visit by tasting, and everything is delicious. The only real thing to take note of (besides their being next to no wine) is that the Cheverny Blanc is 95% Sauvignon in 2012 because François lost almost all of his Chardonnay.
Here are pictures of Priscilla the cat.
Next up, we continue our Cheverny takeover with the legendary Puzelat brothers of Clos du Tue-Boeuf!
That Pinot Meunier lookin' real juicy!
READ UP ON IT HERE!
PREVIOUS ENTRY: MAISONS BRÛLÉES IN POUILLÉ
Recognize that statue?
When pulling in to the Villemade's property, the first thing you spot is their fruit and vegetable garden.
The garden feeds the whole family, and Hervé and Isabelle's 80 year old father takes care of it all on his own. That and pruning "his" 2 hectares all by himself every winter.
"We just let him take as long as he needs. He's in no rush."
And yes, that's a big Homer Simpson doll. Scares the crows.
The first parcel we visited was the old vine Pinot Noir that goes into Desiré, a magnum only cuvée bottled exclusively in exceptional vintages.
Last year, the Desiré parcel produced 2 hl/h, which represents a 90% loss. And though 2012 was particularly brutal, the vines in this area are extremely prone to frost, which has prompted Hervé to purchase vines in the frost-free nearby village of Fougères-sur-Bièvre.
"In the 19 years I've worked this land, it's frosted badly 9 times. One year out of two: it adds up."
This is what frost damage looks like.
Still, Hervé is happy because the bit of sun they've had this summer has sprouted grapes from the damaged buds.
The soils here are heavy clay.
Next, we visited some nearby Romorantin.
The soils here are sand and flint.
Fortunately, 2013 hasn't been a bad year for mildew, the other recurring issue in the area. In efforts to thwart the fungal illness, Hervé has started using a seaweed solution against it.
It's critical that mildew not propagate right before flowering (when we visited), because this is when vines are the most vulnerable: since the sap's flow is so concentrated on the flower, it can hardly protect itself against the spread of illness.
The other big issue? The dreaded little chevreuils:
"If I could shoot them all, I would!"
Hervé is using a rotten garden solution to keep them away.
"It works, but you have to re-spray every time it rains."
Still in the same vicinity, Hervé pointed out some recently planted Sauvignon and Romorantin that will eventually make it into the Cheverny Blanc and Cour-Cheverny.
In an effort to have the most diverse, heterogeneous plantation possible, Hervé has sourced selections massales from over 10 friends, including Clos Roche Blanche, Clos du Tue Boeuf, Maisons Brûlées, Noella Morantin and old vines from their own parcel, La Bodice. The Romorantin was also sourced from François Cazin, Phillipe Tessier and other locals with old vine massales.
After a nice stroll through the vines behind the cellar, we took a quick drive to the lieu dit Les Ardilles.
The lieu-dit of Les Ardilles is 5 hectares: 2 hectares of Pinot Noir and Gamay produce the Les Ardilles cuvée, with an additional 3 hectares of Chardonnay that go into the Cheverny Blanc. There is also a bit of Côt planted, which produces the Pivoine bottling if the quality is high enough. Otherwise it's blended in the rosé.
The whole area is completely surrounded by woods, with rockier Manganese and clay subsoils.
"You never sink into these. They are much easier to work."
For vines he's recently had to replant, Hervé has sourced Pinot fin massales from 3 plots of the infamous Prieuré-Roch estate.
"They add a lot of finesse."
Duh! Hervé hopes to find different Pinot Noir plants in the future to have as much diversity as possible.
The last bit of land we visited were the recently acquired parcels in Fougères-sur-Bièvre. To get there, Hervé led us through some cereal fields.
Zaggy made sure to stay close.
The grass here is visibly untamed, but it isn't that big of a deal because the soils are so rich in clay.
These Sauvignon Blanc vines were planted in 1973, and 40% of them are missing vines. Hervé will eventually replant.
We also saw some old vine Menu Pineau that goes into Bulle Blanche.
As mentioned earlier, these vines are are at double the elevation of Bodice and on much heavier clay, so they don't get hit by frost at all.
We then headed to the cellar. Here's ALL of the 2012 Cheverny Blanc...
Hervé was only able to produce 45 hl instead of a usual 300 hl in 2012, and it's fermenting very slowly.
"The challenge with years like 2012 is harvesting grapes at optimal maturities, since they are so heterogeneous."
All the whites start fermenting in concrete, then are racked to barrel to finish. Acacias was a blend of young and old vines together in 12, so there will be no Chataigners (the name of the old vine Romo). Sugar and malo was done, and the wine was still aging on its lees. Beautiful nose, fresh, and vibrant. La Bodice 12 was also really good.
Les Ardilles will be the only red in 2012. Only a microscopic 60hl of red was produced!!! We tasted the Pinot and Gamay before blending; the grapes that would normally have made the Cheverny Rouge went into the rosé this year. The final wine will be under 12% alchohol.
Check out these cool wine fair posters.
Our next visit brings us to our other Romo master, François Cazin!
YEEEEEAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!! I'll still be writing recaps from this summer and adding reports as they come along, so that might bump things up to 2, 3 posts a week for a minute.
In the mean time, read up on Bruno Duchêne and Angiolino Maule's harvests in the BRAND SPANKING NEW 2013 HARVEST REPORTS SECTION!