Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 review of Festive Wines (see blue link below).
The vineyards at Clau de Nell have been cultivated biodynamically since 2000. A period of financial difficulty led the previous proprietors to seek help from the late Anne-Claude Leflaive and her husband, Christian Jacques. In 2008, the Leflaive-Jacques family purchased Clau de Nell, which at the time had not produced any wine for three years. Since then, Clau de Nell has enjoyed a successful revival with ex-sommelier Sylvain Potin making the wine and Christian running the domaine.
The domaine is situated in Anjou and is comprised of 8.5 hectares of red varieties planted on a south-facing knoll at 90 metres altitude. The vines range in age from 30 to 90 years old and are low yielding (on average 25 hl/ha). There are five hectares of Cabernet Franc, two hectares of the native Grolleau and one hectare of Cabernet Sauvignon. They planted 1.5 hectares of Chenin Blanc in 2012 and the first vintage, 2015, will be released later this year.
2015 was a good year in the Loire, with the same warm, dry summer that many other French regions enjoyed. In Anjou, summer was very dry and the weather during harvest was beautiful. As in Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé, Anjou saw lower yields due to water deficits and poor flowering. The grapes harvested, however, were still of excellent quality.
All the grapes were hand harvested and 100% destemmed. Fermentation was carried out using indigenous yeasts in oak barrels with gentle punch downs. The wines were then aged for 18 months in old barrels purchased from Domaine Leflaive. The wines were bottled without fining or filtration on fruit days, according to the biodynamic calendar. Minimal sulphur dioxide was used because Sylvain says he likes his wine to taste clean and ‘like wine’.
The Grolleau is crisp and fragrant with blueberry and blackberry aromas. It has a bright acidity with a lingering attractive spice on the finish.
Awarded a Gold Medal and 95 points at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).
The Marionnet family arrived in Soings, in the eastern part of Touraine (30 km south of Blois), in the middle of the last century. Their vineyards were completely replanted and expanded between 1967 and 1978. The total vine area is today some 60 hectares, producing some 400,000 bottles of red and white wines. The cellar is fully equipped with stainless steel vats and modern winemaking technology.
Domaine de la Charmoise is mainly planted with Gamay for red wines and Sauvignon for whites. Gamay covers an area of 33 hectares. Average yields are around 55 hl/ha. Sauvignon occupies an area of ~20 ha. The soil is of a type locally known as perruche (= parakeet!), composed of flint, clay, silica and gravel. The estate is located at the highest point between the Loire (to the north) and the Cher (to the south). Thanks to its position, the most easterly of Touraine, the domaine benefits from a continental climate conducive to Gamay and Sauvignon. In addition, a favourable microclimate ensures both excellent maturity and good protection against one of the upper Loire's main hazards: spring frosts.
The harvest is entirely picked by hand with great care and this, the domaine tell us, intriguingly, is “almost exclusively by women”. The clusters undergo rigorous selection and a severe sorting if necessary. These are then placed in vats intact for intracellular fermentation/(semi)-carbonic maceration, yielding a most elegant wine with a brilliant ruby red/purple color. On the nose and palate, it's a real explosion of strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrant, kirsch, coffee, and bonbons anglais. It's a "pleasure wine", and - (al)so say the domaine - "a wine for an entire meal" (best served chilled).
The Les Mougeottes wines are from the region to the east of Carcassonne. Ripe grapes are essential for a good Pinot Noir. The full aromatic potential has already been developed, but the sugar content should be relatively low in order to pre-serve the variety's elegant style. For that, a part of the crop is harvested quite early and ferments at low temperature exalting fruity aromas. The other part, fully ripe, under-goes a traditional, long maceration. About one third ages in French oak barrels for many months adding a lot of complexity to the wine.
This wine has a clean and precise bouquet with black cherries and raspberry aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy red berry fruit and a silky long finish.
Deep garnet colour, fruity intense nose. Youthful and invigorating on the rounded palate.
Jewel coloured with delicate aromas of red fruit. Elegant and subtle spicy flavours are the main characteristics of this pinot noir leading to a clean, pure finish.
Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2018 edition panel tasting of Loire Reds (see blue link below)
Pierre Sourdais has built a reputation for the consistently high quality of his Chinon. With a plethora of different soil types on his 25-hectare property from which to choose his fruit, Pierre is able to produce wines of great character year in, year out. The Chinon Tradition, recently certified organic, is soft and supple, with ripe tannins and an elegant finish – a classic expression of Cabernet Franc.
After a manual harvesting of the grapes, the vinification takes place over 3 weeks at a controlled temperature of 25 to 30 °C. Daily pumping over promotes the alcoholic fermentation and allows for an optimal expression of the structure of the wine. The malolactic fermentation is carried out before ageing. After a few months of maturing in vats, a light filtration will be carried out before bottling in September.
This wine finds its balance from the diversity of its origins. There are subtle aromas of minerality, with a hint of flint that make the wine's complexity very attractive and enticing. The flavours are typical of this style of wine - ripe fruit and candied fruit mingle perfectly with the minerality. It has an elegant finish and is a truly remarkable Chinon. This wine can keep for up to 8 years but is also delicious whilst young.
This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
The Cave de Saumur is in the heart of the vineyards of Saumur-Champigny and was founded by local winegrowers in 1957. The Cabriole red is 100% Cabernet Franc; harvested by hand in early October, the wine sees no wood and bottling usually takes place within six months of the vintage.
The vineyard for this wine covers an area of 245 hectares on the south bank of the Loire River. The subsoil consists of hard, Jurassic limestone, which has broken down to form the shallow, stony topsoil.
The grapes are completely destemmed and there is 15 - 20 days' post-fermentation skin contact. It is fermented in temperature-controlled vats and bottled in the tufa (stone) cellars, where the wine continues ageing, protected from light and temperature variations . It is then aged for a minimum of 6 months on its lees.
This wine has a ruby-red colour. Its aromas are intense, featuring red and black fruit (strawberry and blackcurrant), with hints of spices. It is soft on the palate, with good structure and balance, as well as velvety tannins. It has a long aftertaste with hints of spices.