The 2015 vintage was 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 also planted 1.5 hectares of Chenin Blanc in 2012 which produced its first vintage in 2015.
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’.
This wine is 100% Grolleau.
The Grolleau is crisp and fragrant with blueberry and blackberry aromas. It has a bright acidity with a lingering attractive spice on the finish.
The 2017 vintage was 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).
This wine is made using 100% Gamay.
Domaine Henri Bourgeois, now in its 11th generation of the Bourgeois family, covers 72 hectares in the Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé appellations. Started by Henri Bourgeois over 50 years ago, the vineyards lie on some of the most rugged hillside terrains, offering the best exposures in the Loire Valley. Though the family is forever striving to perfect their craft, they remain committed to Henri’s original viticultural vision of showcasing the purity of the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes and the unique beauty of the Loire Valley. They have several dozen small plots of land (the family are pioneers in plot-based winemaking in the Sancerre region) including some of the very best soils for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir in the region, being:
- clay-limestone, which gives rise to fresh, fruity vintages;
- Kimmeridgian marls, the memories of fossilised shells from the Jurassic era that give intense flavours of exotic fruits and a superb structure;
- flint, which initiates elegant wines with smoky, roasted notes and minerality of great finesse.
Vines are cultivated with complete respect for the environment. The grapes of each plot are tasted so that each one is harvested at optimum maturity. Grapes of which the flavours are then expressed with complete respect for the fruit.
For the specifics on the Les Baronnes rouge, see blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the team at Bourgeois.
100% Pinot Noir.
The bouquet is marked by morello cherry, violet, wood notes and with aging it develops aromas of game, truffle and cherries in brandy. On the palate, it reveals good roundness and a light, pleasant astringency (tannins from the grapes as well as the oak barrels) assuring good aging for 8 to 10 years.
Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their July 2019 tasting/review of carbonic maceration reds (see blue link below).
Domaine Joël Delaunay is a family-owned estate, located in the Touraine AOC. Today, fifth-generation owner Thierry Delaunay runs the domaine. Like his forward-thinking father, Joël Delaunay, who insisted on estate bottling in 1970, Thierry was the first Touraine producer to bottle under screwcap in 2004. Domaine Joël Delaunay has 34 hectares of vineyards, practising sustainable viticulture. 90% of their production is white, with Sauvignon Blanc being the predominant grape variety, and 10% is red, mostly Gamay and Cabernet Franc.
Domaine Joël Delaunay is situated on the bank of the Cher Valley, 50 kilometres east of Tours near the famous Château de Chenonceau. The soil is clay and silex (a mixture of flint and sand) and the training method is Guyot. The vineyards are planted with grass between the vines to control yields, and leaf thinning occurs in July to aid the ripening of the grapes.
Semi-carbonic maceration took place over a period of eight days. Alcoholic fermentation occurred at 24°C with one soft pumping over of the juice. Malolactic fermentation occurred at 22°C. The wine was aged on its fine lees, and then cross filtered prior to bottling.
This wine is bright ruby red in colour. On the nose, red fruits dominate with aromas of strawberries, red plums and cherries. The palate is light and supple with soft tannins and a fruity finish.
Awarded a Gold medal and 95 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details)
Domaines Minchin is located in the heart of the Loire Valley. Having studied oenology at Beaune and Dijon, Bertrand Minchin acquired his first vineyards in the village of Morogues over 20 years ago, planting them with eight hectares of Sauvignon Blanc and seven of Pinot Noir. Today with an established reputation for quality, the estate has doubled in size to 17 hectares in Menetou-Salon and a further 14 in Valençay. The modern winery incorporates the latest technology and Bertrand is hand-crafting wines that are easily on a par with the finest Sancerre.
The grapes come from a single vineyard ‘Pommerais’ in the appellation of Menetou Salon, which is situated in the eastern part of the Loire Valley. Domaines Minchin is certified by Haute Valeur Environmentale and the vineyards are managed according to a strict sustainable philosophy, known as lutte raisonnée. The vineyard is planted with grass, and the soil is tilled and worked to ensure the health and vigour of the vine, while encouraging beneficial biodiversity. Debudding takes place in spring along with careful canopy management in summer, including thinning, which encourages the grapes to reach optimal ripeness and concentrates the flavours in the berries.
The Loire Valley vines enjoyed excellent heath throughout the season. 2017 was characterised by an early harvest, which took place two weeks earlier than average, under ideal weather conditions. Frost in April impacted some areas resulting in lower yields; however the excellent quality of the grapes harvested shows good levels of maturity and flavour concentration.
The grapes were harvested by hand at optimum maturity, destemmed and crushed by pneumatic press. Fermentation was carried out in temperature controlled tanks. Following fermentation, the wine was aged on its lees in oak vats for eight months; of which 80% spent its maturation in cone-shaped oak tanks, and the remaining 20% was in oak barrels.
100% Pinot Noir.
A silky smooth Pinot Noir with beautiful balance. Rich and complex aromas of deep red cherries and wild strawberries are underpinned by mineral notes and a hint of liquorice. Silky smooth on the palate, with delicate fruity notes enveloped in a beautifully balanced structure.
This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
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.
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.