Loire Valley

Château Belle-Rive

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The Estate: Situated in the heart of the Quarts-de-Chaume appellation on the left bank of the Loire, Château Bellerive is planted exclusively with Chenin Blanc. The rows of Chenin grapes that hang southward on steep, slate hillsides descending down to the Layon bathe are protected from the north winds and the dampness on autumn nights. These conditions and the location itself is ideal for the cultivation of botrytis (noble rot) on the grapes. The harvest is manual and performed with several successive selections. The wine-making process at Château Bellerive is traditional, with slow fermentation in oak barrels at low temperatures.

Owner: M. Alain Chateau

Winemaker: M. Denis Dubourdieu


Quarts de Chaume

Quarts de ChaumeThe Vineyard:
Established: 15th Century
Surface Area: 12 hectares
Soil: Shale and sandstone, a constitution which is excellent for filtration and storing heat
Grape Varietals: 100% Chenin Blanc
Average Age of the Vines: 30 years

Vinification:
Annual Production: 20,000 bottles
Harvest: Manual with several successive grape pickings
Type of Tanks: Stainless steel tanks for the start of fermentation
Vinification: Traditional slow fermentation conducted at 18°C in 400L barrels
Aging: 12 months in barrels up until bottling in early October
Yield: 20 hl/ha

Awards:
Parker Guide for French Wines: 91/100
Gilbert & Gaillard Guide 2009: 96/100
Gault & Millau Guide 2007: 18/20
Decanter 2006: Regional Loire Sweet Trophy 2006

Tasting Notes:
Château Bellerive AOC Quarts-de-Chaume is a wine that has a lovely golden, sparkling color. The bouquet develops intense aromas of great freshness reminiscent of ripe fruit, such as quince, apricot, and prune. On the palate, it is an explosion of flavor: concentrated and ethereal, it has beautiful notes of exotic fruit (mango, passion fruit) and toast, with a finish that is fresh and has good length. With some age, aromas of honey and candied orange will appear.

Renowned for its good balance between sugar and acidity, Quarts-de-Chaume is a rare wine which is particularly powerful, delivering true aromatic fireworks, topped by a very long finish. It is one of the great sweet wines of the Loire region. 

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Château de la Gravelle (Organic) – Pays Nantais

 

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The Estate

Formerly a 300 hectare property that was split up during the French Revolution, Château de la Gravelle now spans 15 hectares and is located in the town of Gorges, France in the heart of the Sèvre et Maine appellation.  The estate, managed by Véronique Günther Chéreau, is home to buildings that date back to Louis XIII, including its classic windmill (featured on the bottle label) which is a typical feature of the Nantes region.  The vineyards have a unique soil structure composed of volcanic rock (or gabbro), shale, and other sedimentary rock, a feature that gives the resulting wines their elegance and exceptional bouquet.  Starting in 2010, the estate converted to an organic operation, and continues to employ organic methods to this day.

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Map of Muscadet appellations


Muscadet Sèvre et Maine

The Vines: The Melon de Bourgogne was first planted in the Nantes area after the frost of 1709 that wiped out all of the vines in the region. This Burgundian grape variety has found its vocation by adapting wonderfully to the Nantes terroir.

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The volcanic rock soil of Chateau de la Gravelle

The Soil: The vineyard of the Château de la Gravelle has an uncommon terroir; its subsoil is composed of a volcanic rock called gabbro and covered with a layer of clay.

Vinification: The wine is vinified on its lees, or “sur lie.”  The lie, or dead yeast cells, is the result of natural sedimentation of the solid elements of the wine.  After alcoholic fermentation, the wine rests on its lees throughout the winter until bottling at the end of March. It is never racked, which allows the conservation of a small quantity of carbon dioxide, giving the wine a fine beading, a quality that is so exquisite and appreciated by connoisseurs.

Tasting Notes: This Muscadet Sèvre et Maine is a classic wine of the region with much body and liveliness.  It is best served with shellfish such as lobster and crawfish, and most other seafood as well.  It is also highly enjoyable on its own as an aperitif. Because of its structure, it goes well with buttery dishes.

2015 Reviews: “…this displays a luscious meld of white peach and lime on a glossy but – for its vintage – impressively lively palate. Mouthwatering salinity adds to the appeal of an infectiously juicy finish.”-90pts, David Schildknecht, May 2017, Vinous

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Château de la Guimoniere

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The Estate: Established in the 15th century, Chateau de la Guimonière is located in one of the most remarkable appellations of the Loire Valley.  The vines of Château de la Guimonière are gathered on the hillsides of the Layon à Chaume in the town of Rochefort sur ​​Loire, with an adjoining castle that was built in 1487.  Château de la Guimonière covers an area of 19 hectares, of which 16 hectares are planted with Chenin Blanc, with the remaining 3 hectares planted with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The southern-facing vineyard overlooks the Layon and lies on soil consisting of shale and sandstone. This location is an ideal micro-climate for developing an overripe harvest because in autumn, the vines are watered by the early morning mist, then warmed by the sun’s rays later in the day. Depending on the climate and the ripeness of the grapes, the 16 hectares of Chenin Blanc either produce a dry white Anjou or Coteaux du Layon. The 3 hectares planted with red grapes produce a Anjou Rouge and a Cabernet d’Anjou.

Owner: M. Alain Castle

Winemaker: M. Denis Dubourdieu


Anjou Blanc

CHATEAU-DE-LA-GUIMONIERE-ANJOU-BLANC-NH-EN

The Vineyard:
Surface Area: 16 hectares
Soils: Silica, shale, and sandstone which has excellent filtration without loss of heat
Grape Varietal: 100% Chenin Blanc
Average Age of Vines: 20 years

Vinification:
Annual Production: 40,000 bottles
Harvest: Manual with several successive pickings
Type of tanks : Stainless steel for the beginning of fermentation
Vinification: Maceration of one third of the volume for 12 hours, gentle and very slow pressing. Slow fermentation in 400L oak barrels for 1-2 months.
Aging: On fine lees, in 400L oak barrels for 4-6 months
Yield: 40 hl/ha

Awards:
-Concours Général Agricole 2007: Silver Medal
-Gilbert et Gaillard Guide 2009: 90/100
-Salon des Vins de Loire- Angers 2007: Gold Medal

Tasting Notes:
Color: Gold with green reflections
Nose: Aromas of yellow fruit (apricot, peach), honey, and freshly cut white flowers
Palate: Ample and suave on the attack, with notes of acacia and almond; it conserves a remarkable freshness

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Anjou Rouge

CHATEAU-DE-LA-GUIMONIERE-ANJOU-ROUGE-NH-EN

The Vineyard:
Surface Area: 3 hectares
Soils: Deep shale, clayey quartz
Grape Varietal: 100% Cabernet franc
Average Age of Vines: 20 years

Vinification:
Annual Production: 15,000 bottles
Harvest: Manual with several successive pickings
Type of tanks : Stainless steel for the beginning of fermentation
Vinification: 20 day maceration, fermentation at 25°C, gentle stirring once or twice a day
Yield: 40 hl/ha

Awards:

Wine Enthusiast Magazine 9/9: Best Buy

Tasting Notes:
Color: Deep violet with shades of blue and red
Nose: Ripe red fruit developing into more complex spicy notes
Palate: Velvety, smooth; ripe fruit notes and velvety tannins

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Château de Targé

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History

In 1655, Phelippeaux de Ponchartrain, the personal secretary to King Louis XIV of France, acquired a hunting lodge near the forests of the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud, along with the hilltop next to it.  Since then, the property has been kept in the family, and each generation contributed to its construction and reputation. Henri Allain-Targé brought French politicians of the 3rd Republic like Gambetta and Villemain to the Chateau.  Then, with the marriage of Geneviève Allain-Targé to Charles Ferry, brother of Jules Ferry (well known in France for his efforts in making school mandatory and free for all French youth), the Chateau became the privileged residence of the Ferry’s. Fresnette – their only descendant – and her husband Edgard Pisani, then Minister under de Gaulle, together restored the Château after all the damage done by the two World Wars.

Their son, Edouard Pisani-Ferry, agricultural engineer in winemaking, inherited the Château in 1976. He started by building a modern winery with thermo-regulated tanks, and then in the 1990’s expanded the vineyard by buying and exchanging terroirs in order to have the quality of land he thought the Château deserved.  During this time, he also started to utilize environment-friendly methods for cultivation and vinification.  Since 2000, he has been a member of the Terra Vitis association, which is committed to sustainable agriculture.  Today, the estate covers an area of about 24 hectares (60 acres).

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Location

The vineyard is grouped together on the coteau above the Château on the border of AOC Saumur-Champigny, and is located on the best soils of Parnay towards the Loire.  The names of the parcels give a clue as to the maturity of the area: Clos Saint-Père, Clos du Moulin, Clos Saillant, Clos Vert…

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Location Map

Climate

The name Saumur Champigny, after Latin “Campus Ignis,” means “Fire Field.”  Indeed, the climate of the region is half oceanic, therefore quite mild and of steady temperature, but there is a microclimate over Saumur and Chinon, warmer and drier than the rest of the Loire Valley, with only 525 mm of yearly rainfall (national average being 900 mm).  It enables the estate to produce exceptional red wines, which need more sun than white wine.  This microclimate is explained by the hills that protect the region from most of the large clouds coming from the ocean, located 150 km southwest.

Soil

The soil is composed of clay and limestone (from superior cretaceous), while the subsoil results from sediment which settled 80-90 million years ago, allowing the formation of a hard chalk, white or light ochre: freestone.  This composition, similar to a sponge, enables the rain to moisturize the subsoil without drowing it in water.

Fun Fact: The limestone from this terroir was used for the construction of hundreds of Chateaux along the Loire towards Nantes, as well as in England.  The removal of the stone created caves which were ideal for the conservation of wine because of the fresh air and perfectly constant temperature.

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The soils from upper Turonian (Jurassic)

Grape Varietals

All of the grapes planted are noble varietals of the Loire Valley: The Cabernet Franc (85%) from Saumur-Champigny, which is known for its ideal development on clay and limestone soils with a northern climate, as well as its delicate and elegant wines; the Chenin Blanc (15%) from the Saumur Blanc and Coteaux de Saumur: very typical of the region, its big personality wonderfully represents the soils of the vineyard.  These two varietals are planted at a density of at least 5,000 vines per hectare.

Sustainable Development

The domain has been invested in sustainable development for more than a decade now, and has been awarded each year since 2000 when it joined the Terra Vitis label.  Progressively since 2009, all of the vines have been cultivated without weed killer, insecticide, or chemical fertilizer.

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Saumur-Champigny Rouge

Saumur-Champigny Rouge

 

Château de Varennes

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Appellation: AOC Savennières

Grape Varietals: 100 % Chenin

The Estate: Established in 1950, the 7 hectares of Château de Varennes are at the heart of the Savennières appellation, about 15 kilometers to the west of Angers, overlooking the right bank of the Loire river. The vineyard enjoys beautiful south-southeast exposure, guaranteeing exceptional sunlight. The average age of the vines is 20 years old.

On the slopes, the soil consists of shale and sandstone, giving the wine exceptional richness. Its robust structure permits several years of aging, during which the vines will flourish.

The harvest is manual, with a minimum of two successive selections of grape bunches. The wine-making process at Château de Varennes is traditional, with gentle pressing followed by fermentation in oak barrels.

Owner: M. Alain Chateau

Oenologist: M. Denis Dubourdieu


Savennières

chateau-de-varennes-savennieres-2006Varietal Composition: 100 % Chenin.

Vinification: Harvesting is manual with 3 successive pickings. After gentle pressing, the juice is stored in thermo regulated stainless steel vats, then left to ferment in oak casks for 1 to 2 month. The wine is stored on fine lees in 400 liter oak casks for 10 to 12 months before bottling. Average yield is 35hl/ha, and annual production is about 35,000 bottles.

Tasting Notes:  Deep golden straw in color with glints of green, shading to
antique gold with hints of amber with age. The bouquet has aromas of lime flower, aniseed, grapefruit, pear, honey and quince jelly. Marked with strong minerality, it evolves towards hazelnut, gentle spice, and candied fruit (grapefruit, lemon).
On the palate, the Savennières is ample and thick with a sprightly finish, combined with great freshness. Hints of hazelnut and apricot with great
finesse and minerality. Particularly high aromatic persistence.  Decant and serve at 12°C. Aging potential is at least 5 years.

Awards:
Vintage 2005
Concours Général agricole Paris 2007: Gold
Guide Gault Millau 2009: 14/20
Vintage 2006
Wine Enthusiast Magazine Sept 09 : 89/100
Vintage 2007
Guide Gault-Millau 2010 : 17/20

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Domaine Bourillon Dorléans

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The Estate

The Bourillon family has been making wine in Rochecorbon, located in the Vouvray appellation of the Loire Valley, for generations.  The estate was founded as far back as 1875, but it was in 1921 when the estate, as it is today, was properly organized by Gaston Dorléans into Domaine Bourillon Dorléans.

Still very much a family affair, the estate is run by Gaston’s great grandson, Frédéric Bourillon, who has consolidated the family’s 26.5 hectares of vines and constructed a modern winery complex to produce exceptional Vouvray.  The Bourillon family continues to make their wines using traditional wine making principles.  The immaculate Rochecorbon vineyards are sustainably managed, and the winemakers use only the highest quality Chenin Blanc grapes for their  wines.  The grapes are hand harvested and are matured in the beautiful, 15th century troglodyte caves situated alongside the winery.

With an average vine age of 35 years, the wines are headily aromatic, with deep, complex flavors, and are lusciously textured, with the sec style in particular showing a flintiness and minerality that is unique to the terroir of the Loire Valley.  Annual production is about 150,000 bottles.


 

Vouvray Demi-Sec La Bourdonnerie

Location: The cellars and vineyards are located in Rochecorbon, about 3 kilometers west of Vouvray.  Most of the vineyards are in one piece surrounding the Chateau de Montgouverne, an attractive 18th century mansion on the plateau dominating the right bank of the Loire.  The cellars are typical of Vouvray: 15th century caves or quarries, originally carved out of the limestone tufa hillside to provide stone for building the Chateaux of the Loire Valley.

Terroir: Clay & limestone with a solid limestone base at 1.2 meters in depth.

Grape Varietal: 100% Chenin Blanc

Average Age of the Vines: 30 years old

Type: Semi-dry

Vinification: Sustainable viticulture, with no herbicides (grass is cultivated between the rows of vines), and no use of chemical fertilizer.  After harvest, the grapes are rapidly pressed in a gentle pneumatic press.  Fermentation takes place in stainless steel, temperature controlled tanks (80%) and oak barrels (20%).

Aging: After fermentation, the wine is aged for 6 months on the fine lees.

Residual Sugar: 25 g/l

Characteristics: Lovely pastel yellow color with bright lemony reflections.  The bouquet is concentrated and crystallized (notes of cedar and mandarin).  It is supported by hints of marzipan and cold soot.  The palate is gentle, but with a slightly bitter element (cold coffee), and angelic flavors on the finish.

Food Pairings: Roasted turbot in gravy with fried potatoes.

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Vouvray Sec La Coulée d'Argent VV

Location: The cellars and vineyards are located in Rochecorbon, about 3 kilometers west of Vouvray.  Most of the vineyards are in one piece surrounding the Chateau de Montgouverne, an attractive 18th century mansion on the plateau dominating the right bank of the Loire.  The cellars are typical of Vouvray: 15th century caves or quarries, originally carved out of the limestone tufa hillside to provide stone for building the Chateaux of the Loire Valley.

Terroir: Clay & limestone with a solid limestone base at 1.2 meters in depth.

Grape Varietal: 100% Chenin Blanc

Average Age of the Vines: 30 years old

Type: Dry

Vinification: Sustainable viticulture, with no herbicides (grass is cultivated between the rows of vines), and no use of chemical fertilizer.  After harvest, the grapes are rapidly pressed in a gentle pneumatic press.  Fermentation takes place in stainless steel, temperature controlled tanks (80%) and oak barrels (20%).

Aging: After fermentation, the wine is aged for 6 months on the fine lees.

Residual Sugar: 6-9 g/l

Characteristics: The color is yellow with shades of green and silver.  The bouquet is expressive with dominant notes of white fruit such as peaches and nectarines, supported by hints of freshly shelled almonds and acacia.  Tender and long lasting on the palate with savory notes of browned butter and grilled hazelnuts.

Food Pairings: Filet of poached sole in herb sauce

2015 Reviews: “Lovely yellow and red apple notes mingle with enticing ginger and dried quince accents, all backed by a pure, mineral-driven finish that leaves a mouthwatering echo. Drink now through 2025. 3,750 cases made.”-92pts, Wine Spectator

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Domaine Daniel Crochet (Organic) – Central Vineyards

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The Estate

This domaine is in its fourth generation; Daniel Crochet took over the family business in 1996 after studying viticulture and oenology at the Lycée Wine Avize in the Marne.

Since 1996, operations have expanded to today where the vineyard covers an area of 9.15 hectares, 5.92 hectares of which are planted with Sauvignon Blanc, and 3.23 hectares with Sauvignon Pinot Noir.

The plots are located in the towns of Sancerre and Bué–all AOC Sancerre.  The soils are composed of “terres blanches”, or clay-limestone, and “caillottes”, or pebbly limestone.

Three important viticultural techniques are employed on the estate: ploughing, ENM (the practice of permitting natural grass to grown among the wines), and cultivation of grass between the rows of vines. This alone represents 70% of the property with the aim to preserve soil quality and avoid erosion as well as limiting the yields of the vines in order to obtain the maximum concentration in the grapes.  In addition, a conscientious and environmentally responsible program of pest and disease control is practiced throughout the estate.


Sancerre Blanc

BlancThe Soil: The plots are located in the towns of Sancerre and Bué, all AOC Sancerre. The soils consist of two main types of soil: terres blanches- clay-limestone composition and caillottes- pebbly limestone.

The Vines: Three important viticultural techniques are employed on the estate: ploughing, ENM (the practice of permitting natural grass to grown among the wines), and cultivation of grass between the rows of vines. This alone represents 70% of the property with the aim to preserve soil quality and avoid erosion as well as limiting the yields of the vines in order to obtain the maximum concentration in the grapes.  In addition, a conscientious and environmentally responsible program of pest and disease control is practiced throughout the estate.

Varietal Composition: 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Vinification: Pneumatic sequential. Static settling about 48 hours is carried out at low temperature. Fermentation vessel at temperatures between 17 and 23 ° C. Aging on fine lees for 5 to 9 months. Light fining followed by a tartaric stabilization. Bottling on property.

Tasting Notes: The color is pale gold with green reflections and shine up the dress. The nose seduces with its freshness and fruitiness. Beautiful expression in the mouth where the purity and fineness marry.

2015 Reviews: “Bold, yellow peach and stone fruit character. The palate is broad, supple and fresh, despite the high alcohol, and this is balanced by a vibrant seam of acidity running through the middle…Drink 2016-2024. Alc 14%”-90pts, Decanter


Sancerre Rosé

Sancerre RoséThe Soil: The plots are located in the towns of Sancerre and Bué, all AOC Sancerre. The soils consist of two main types of soil: terres blanches- clay-limestone composition and caillottes- pebbly limestone.

The Vines: Three important viticultural techniques are employed on the estate: ploughing, ENM (the practice of permitting natural grass to grown among the wines), and cultivation of grass between the rows of vines. This alone represents 70% of the property with the aim to preserve soil quality and avoid erosion as well as limiting the yields of the vines in order to obtain the maximum concentration in the grapes.  In addition, a conscientious and environmentally responsible program of pest and disease control is practiced throughout the estate. The average age of the vines is 4 to 25 years old.

Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Noir

Vinification: The pink color is obtained by sequential pneumatic pressing whole Pinot Noir grapes. Static settling about 48 hours is carried out at low temperature. Fermentation tank at temperatures between 18 and 22 °C. Ageing on lees for 3 to 4 months. Light fining followed by a tartaric stabilization. Bottling on the property.

Tasting Notes: The dress is a brilliant pale pink. Nose with aromas of red berries, and is straightforward. A beautiful fresh structure with aromas that are perfectly balanced.

2017 Reviews: “Bright and energetic on the nose, displaying fresh strawberry and pink grapefruit scents and a strong mineral overtone. Dry and racy on the palate, offering brisk red berry and orange pith flavors that deepen slowly on the back half. The mineral note comes back on the finish, adding lift and tension to persistent red berry and bitter blood orange notes.” – 90pts, Vinous

2016 Reviews: “Light bright pink. High-pitched red berry and floral aromas show good clarity and pick up a minerally accent as the wine opens up. Juicy and delineated on the palate, offering strawberry and orange pith flavors that deepen and spread out on the back half. A long, focused finish shows good energy and leaves a refreshingly bitter quinine note behind.”-90pts, Josh Raynolds, Vinous

2015 Reviews: “Bright orange. Ripe, spice-tinged red berries, tangerine and succulent herbs on the nose and in the mouth. In a fleshy style, with good heft and a hint of white pepper adding back-end cut. Shows good finishing thrust and lingering suggestions of bitter berry skin and anise.”-89pts, Josh Raynolds, Vinous


Sancerre Rouge

Sancerre RougeThe Soil: The plots are located in the towns of Sancerre and Bué, all AOC Sancerre. The soils consist of two main types of soil: terres blanches- clay-limestone composition and caillottes- pebbly limestone.

The Vines: Three important viticultural techniques are employed on the estate: ploughing, ENM (the practice of permitting natural grass to grown among the wines), and cultivation of grass between the rows of vines. This alone represents 70% of the property with the aim to preserve soil quality and avoid erosion as well as limiting the yields of the vines in order to obtain the maximum concentration in the grapes.  In addition, a conscientious and environmentally responsible program of pest and disease control is practiced throughout the estate.

Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Noir

Vinification: After a manual harvest, the grapes are pressed and the fermentation proceeds for approximately 30 days. Both remontage and pigeage are done but the degree to which they are practiced depends on the structure of each vintage. Sixty percent of this cuvée is aged in barrel and 40% in stainless steel for one year. The wine is then assembled and, for an additional eight months, is aged in stainless steel before being bottled approximately two years after harvest.

Tasting Notes: The color is deep, purplish-red. The nose shows red fruits like raspberry and cherry. Mouth, good structure, is appealing


Sancerre Blanc Cuvée Prestige

Blanc Cuvée PrestigeLocation: The plots are situated in the towns of Sancerre and Bué, all AOC Sancerre.

The Soil: The soil consists of two main types: terres blanches, or clay-limestone and caillottes, or pebbly limestone

The Vines: 0.4 hectares of 30-45 year old vines, planted on 70% caillottes and 30% terres blanches soil.

Varietal Composition: 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Vinification: The wine is traditionally vinified.  During the vinification process, the sediment that forms is continuously stirred.  The volume of grapes grown is limited and the grapes harvested (by hand) undergo a strict selection process in order to produce a wine that is distinctive, fruity, and fresh.

Tasting Notes: The wine has a bright, clear color.  The full bouquet has pear and mineral tones that open instantly.  This is a highly aromatic wine with an excellent balance between soft and dry on the palate and an almost lush finish of white flowers like lilac mixed with ripe white fruit. A bright jewel.

Serving Temperature: 11-13°C

Cellaring Potential: 6-8 years


Sancerre Blanc Plante des Prés

Plante des Prés

Tasting Notes: The bouquet is a lovely, delicate prelude to the round notes on the palate.  This Sancerre is richly aromatic while having the unique characteristic of being light as a feather without lacking character and depth.

Food Pairings: Cold entrees containing vegetables, terrines, and fresh goat cheese; also pairs well with salty plates either raw or cooked, seafood and shellfish such as mussels, shrimp, whelk, and lobster (served either cold or hot), Asian dishes(sushi, sashimi), white meat, and fresh but fine flavored cheeses.

 


Sancerre Blanc Chêne Marchand

Chêne Marchand

Tasting Notes: Herbal notes dominate the nose: gentian, linden, chamomile, and verbena jaillissen; this herbal identity is pleasantly evident on the palate as well, with the roundness bringing harmony to the nose and mouth; this wine will only get better with age.

Food Pairings: Cold entrees containing vegetables, terrines, and fresh goat cheese; also pairs well with salty plates either raw or cooked, seafood and shellfish such as mussels, shrimp, whelk, and lobster (served either cold or hot), Asian dishes(sushi, sashimi), white meat, and fresh but fine flavored cheeses.

Serving Temperature: 8-12 C

 

Domaine Estelle et Rodolphe Cognard (Sustainable) – Touraine

The Estate:

1974 was a good year for Lydie Taluau with Max Cognard.  It was that year that Lydie inherited 1 hectare of vines, and also the year that Lydie and Max’s daughter, Estelle, was born.  That same year they established Domaine Lydie et Max Cognard (now Estelle et Rodolphe Cognard), and 4 years later Rodolphe was born.  It was Estelle Cognard who in 1997, decided to gradually take over the family business, and in 2001 Rodolphe also joined.  Today, they tend 13 hectares of vines in St Nicolas de Bourgueil and Bourgueil.  Estelle manages the administrative and accounting part of the business, and Rodolphe the winemaking portion.  Lydie and Max are now officially retired but are still very much a part of the business.

The vineyards are devoted in entirety to Cabernet Franc, planted at a density of 4,500 vines/ha, with the rows of vines interspersed with grass to keep down the weeds and to force the vines to root deeper for nourishment. The vineyard is sustainably managed (lutte raisonnée), an increasingly popular system of agriculture which allows for appropriate use of chemical treatments where necessary, encouraging a reasoned approach to their application, and thus hopefully improving the quality and life of the soil underfoot.

In more northerly climes such as the Loire, where rain, mildew and oidium are frequently observed visitors in many summers, many viticulteurs view organic viticulture as a step too far, and lutte raisonnée is a much more comfortable option.

Starting with the 2018 vintage, Domaine Cognard is converting to 100% organic farming.


AOC Bourgueil Rouge Cuvée Les Tuffes

Soil: 2.5 hectares of clay-limestone, 1.5 hectares gravel

Production Area: 4 hectares in both Benais and Bourgueil

Average Age of the Vines: 25 years old

Varietal Blend: 100% Cabernet Franc

Harvest: Mechanical in order to split up the harvest depending on the maturity of the grapes

Vinification: Alcoholic fermentation lasts 14-21 days in stainless-steel thermo-regulated tanks. Pre-fermentation maceration for 48 hours at cold temperatures, followed by fermentation for about 18 days between 25-28°C to extract the aromas. Light filtration done with care.

Aging: A minimum of 18 months aging in tanks and partially in barrels followed by bottling.

Tasting Notes: Deep ruby color. The nose is complex with notes of stewed fruit and spices.  The mouth is ample and well balanced, supported by the tannins and a lovely freshness.

Food Pairings: Grilled meats, poultry, goat cheese

Serving Temperature: 13-16°C

Cellaring Potential: Good to drink immediately, but especially 2 years after bottling. Cellaring potential of 2-10 years.

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Saint-Nicolas de Bourgeuil Cuvee Estelle

Soil: Sandy soil, deep clay

Production Area: 8 hectares

Average Age of the Vines: 30 years old

Varietal Blend: 100% Cabernet Franc

Harvest: Mechanical in order to split up the harvest depending on the maturity of the grapes and the weather

Vinification: Fermentation lasts 7-18 days in stainless-steel thermos-regulated tanks. Pre-fermentation maceration for 48 hours at cold temperatures, then fermentation between 25-26°C to extract the aromas. Light filtration done with care.

Aging: Maturation between 8-14 months in stainless-steel tanks, followed by bottling.

Tasting Notes: Beautiful, limpid ruby color. The bouquet is fragrant with red fruit such as raspberry, blackcurrant, and strawberry.  On the palate, the wine is fruity and easy to drink.

Food Pairings: Simple dishes, charcuterie, grilled meats, fish, goat cheese.

Serving Temperature: 12-15°C

Cellaring Potential: Good to drink immediately, but especially after 1-3 years

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Saint-Nicolas de Bourgeuil Cuvée Les Malgagnes

Soil: Silty clay

Production Area: 2 hectares

Average Age of the Vines: 40 years old

Varietal Blend: 100% Cabernet Franc

Harvest: Mechanical in order to split up the harvest depending on the maturity of the grapes and the weather

Vinification: Alcoholic fermentation lasts 14-21 days in stainless-steel thermo-regulated tanks. 10% minimum of the vintage in barrels. Pre-fermentation maceration for 48 hours at cold temperatures, followed by fermentation for about 18 days between 30-35°C to extract the aromas. Light filtration done with care.

Aging: 15 months in tank and/or 10 months in Burgundian barrels for half of the maximum harvest, followed by bottling.

Tasting Notes: Dark brick color. The bouquet is complex with fragrant notes of wild berries. The palate is pulpy and concentrated. This is a wine of character that vividly expresses the terroir.

Food Pairings: For younger vintages, pair with poultry. For older vintages, pair with red meats and aged cheeses.

Serving Temperature: 15-17°C

Cellaring Potential: Good to drink immediately, but especially 2 years after bottling. Cellaring potential of 2-15 years.

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Domaine Jean Teiller (Organic)

The Estate

The Domaine Jean Tellier is a family business founded in the 1950s by Leon Millet. It found its true wine-growing vocation with Jean and Denise Tellier (Leon Millet’s daughter) who believed in the future of Menetou-Salon and worked to enhance their appellation’s reputation.

Annual production of the white, from Sauvignon Blanc, is in the region of 50,000 bottles, half of which is sold direct from the cellar door. The family also produces fine Menetou Salon rosé and red wine from pure Pinot Noir. Jean-Jacques and his wife Monique are now ably assisted by their daughter and son-in-law Patricia and Olivier who met in Beaune where Patricia was studying oenology.

The Domaine covers an area of 17 hectares and is located on the best slopes of the communes of Menetou-Salon, Parassy, Aubinges, and Vignoux sous les Aix:

  • 10 hectares planted with Sauvignon the sole Menetou-Salon Blanc grape
  • 7 hectares planted with Pinot Noir, the sole Menetou-Salon Rouge and Rose grape
  • The average age of the vines is greater than 20 years

The Domaine has been a member of “Vignerons Indépendants de France” since 1995.


Menetou-Salon Blanc

Production Area: 9 ha of which 3.5 ha are planted with vines over 20 years old

Varietal Blend: 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Soil: Shallow clay limestone

Location: Situated on the side of the slopes located in the communes of Menetou-Salon, Parassy, and Aubinges

Harvest: Harvested at optimum maturity at the end of September/beginning of October

Vinification: De-stemmng; the press is filled by conveyor belt. Pneumatic pressing is slow and gentle to limit the extraction of plant compounds. Cold, static racking. Fermentation in thermo-regulated vats for 8-10 weeks.

Aging: 95% in tank, 5% in barrel.  Estate bottled in March.

Tasting Notes: Golden color with green reflections. Powerful, rich nose, with notes of citrus, peach, and white flowers. When shaken, the nose reveals even more of its aromatic power and complexity. The attack is crisp and full-bodied. The acidity ensures that there is a good balance and the notes of white flowers enhance the fruity aromas on the nose. Lingers well, remains on the palette.

Food Pairings: The Menetou-Salon Blanc is the perfect accompaniment to fish, shellfish, white meat, poultry, chèvre…or simply as an aperitif.

Serving Temperature: Drink around 12°C

Cellaring Potential: Keep 3-5 years

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Domaine Les Maisons Rouges (Biodynamic)

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The Estate

Domaine Les Maisons Rouges was established in 1994 among the vineyards of Jasnières in the Loire Valley.  This terroir was chosen for its great potential; its high quality soils, native grape varietals, and accessible land presented rich possibilities to Benoit and Elisabeth Jardin.  Initially encompassing a mere half hectare of red grape vines, the estate has now been expanded to 10 hectares of which 2 are planted with red grape vines and 5 with white.  This change took place with some difficulty, as the vineyards (composed of a great quantity of very old vines) had to be returned to a healthy, productive state.

When Les Maisons Rouge first began over 15 years ago, it was planted with several red grape varietals, including Pineau d’Aunis, Gamay, and Cabernet Franc.  Today, the domaine exclusively grows l’Aunis for its red wines and Chenin for the whites.

In 2002, the Jardins made the choice to practice organic agriculture for which they were certified in 2007.  At the same time, they began aging on the lees in oak barrels in order to obtain more complex wines with good structure and longer cellaring potential.  The goal of this aging method is to produce wines that favor the minerality of the terroir over the fruitiness of the grapes.

In 2009, the domaine became certified biodynamic under the Biodyvin label to reaffirm their commitment to viticulture that is respectful to the environment.  This method results in healthy grapes, allowing the winemakers to produce wines without the use of sulfur (except during unfavorable years and bottling).

Location

The majority of the plots are spread out over the southern-facing, very well-exposed slopes of Jasnières in the town of Lhomme, or to the east in the Coteaux du Loir within the town of Ruillé sur Loir.

The Vines

Chenin Blanc, or Pineau de Loire, is the exclusive varietal for the AOC Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir blanc.  It is the historic grape of the Loire, present from Anjou to Touraine over the majority of the AOC.

As for the red vines, they are planted exclusively with Pineau d’Aunis, another ancient varietal of the Loire Valley.  It is a parent of the Chenin grape whose origin dates make to the middle ages.  Its name comes from a selection made in that period to the Piory of Aunis in the town of Dampierre, near Saumur in le Maine and Loir.  Also called Chenin Noir, its organoleptic characteristics are close to that of its illustrious cousin-it has aromatic richness, finesse, and spicy, peppery notes.

The vines are planted in rows about 1.5-1.7 meters between them.  All of the old vines are rehabilitated and planted with vines from the plot, all while respecting the genetic diversity.  This choice of mass selection is now applied to all new plantings.

The vines are cultivated with respect for the terroir.  The goal of the winemakers is to bring the soil alive and to foster maximum rooting of the vines to reach the deeper geological layers which results in wines that fully express the unique characteristics of this land.

Vinification

The winemakers apply the same natural methods to vinification as they do to viticulture.  No yeast or oenological product is added, and nothing is removed.  A minimal dose of sulfur is introduced only after the fermentation process or during bottling in order to protect the wines.  Vinification is done by plot for the whites and by the age of the vines for the Coteaux du Loir rouge.

The grapes are harvested manually into cases at the beginning of October in order to give the grapes time to reach optimum maturity for the favorable vintages.  This is followed by sorting which divides the harvest (by plot) into bunches reserved for the dry to the sweeter whites.

The white Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir wines are produced from the Chenin grape varietal; they are more often than not dry without residual sugar, however certain vintages such as 2003, 2005, and 2009 produced exceptional sweet wines.

The white wines are aged sur lies for a period of 12-18 months in oak barrels that have aged 2-3 prior vintages.  This aging in noble wood (no new wood) gives the wine complex and subtle aromas, as well as the potential for aging long term.

The red Coteaux du Loir wines have a spicy quality that is unique to the Pineau d’Aunis grape varietal.  They combine notes of pepper and red fruit and have a powerful structure, thanks to the age of the vines from which they are produced.  In fact, this structure is in particular enhanced by the use of cold fermentation and pigeage which allows a gentle extraction of the constituents of the grape (anthocyanins, tannins, aromatic compounds, etc.).  The Pineau d’Aunis is the sole grape used for the reds-no blending with other grape varietals is performed.  The youngest vines are 14-50 years old and are used for the Garance cuvée, whereas the older vines are used for the Alizari cuvée.


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Coteaux du Loir Rouge Garance

Grape Varietals: 100% Pineau d’Aunis

Soil: The Coteaux de Loir plots are planted with Pineau d’Aunis grapes.  The terroir rests on bedrock and clay.

Vine Management: “Taille courte en double cordons” for the younger vines, and “gobelets aplatis” for the older vines.

Harvest: The grapes are harvested manually in cases at the beginning of October.

Vinification & Aging: No yeast or oenological product is added, and nothing is removed.  A minimal dose of sulfur is introduced only after the fermentation process or during bottling in order to protect the wines.  Vinification is done by the age of the vines for the Coteaux du Loir rouge in stainless steel tanks.

Tasting Notes: Light in color which suggests a delicate wine, however the surprisingly intense bouquet leaps from the glass with aromas of fruit, pepper, and flowers.  On the palate, this wine is powerful yet elegant with notes of cherry, raspberry, and pepper.

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Coteaux du Loir Sec Dans les Perrons

Location: The situation of the vines on the top of the slope exposes them to the wind; this means that water evaporation is high, forcing the roots to bury deep into the ground in search of moisture.  The aeration helps fight against mold and disease.

Soil: The vines for this wine are planted on different layers of the coteaux-quartz, silex sand, and clay on bedrock.

Grape Varietals: 100% Chenin Blanc

Alcohol Content: 12.5-13%

Harvest: Harvested manually in mid-October in boxes.

Vinification: Fermentation and aging takes place in oak barrels for 14 months. The winemakers use indigenous yeasts, and use no added sulfites when bottling.  This wine is unfiltered.

Tasting Notes: Very fresh and pleasant to drink; blossom and peach aromas dominate, complemented by a distinct minerality and fresh woodsy notes.  This wine is round and creamy on the palate.

Food Pairings: Goes well with aromatic dishes such as risotto with truffle oil, or desserts made with exotic fruit.

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Jasnières Moelleux Inclinaison

The Vineyard: The “Clos des Jasnières” is at the heart of the Jasnières appellation.  This plot is planted with vines aged over 70 years old and is located on the upper part of the slope. Its soil is a cénonien (Mesozoic) combination composed of clay, sand, and green mica with 80% flint and spongolithes on the surface and 20% beneath the earth. This deep clay soil rich in flint gives the Clos des Jasnières the power and minerality which is characteristic of the great Jasnières wines.

Grape Varietals: 100% Chenin Blanc

Residual Sugar: 41 grams

Alcohol Content: 13.5%

Vinification: Manually harvested mid-October into cases.  Fermentation and aging in oak barrels for 15 months.  Vinification is done using indigenous yeast with no added sulfites prior to bottling.  This wine is unfiltered.

Tasting Notes: Yellow gold in color.  Rich, sweet bouquet with hints of honey, coconut, and acacia.  Open and more expressive on the palate.  Firm, mineral and stony.  Quite chalky and phenolic in texture.  Concentrated with a firm finish.

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Jasnières Sec Sur le Nez

Location: The grapes used to produce this wine come from 2 different parcels: “Clos des Jasnières” and “La Gidonnière.”  The vines on these plots were planted between 1900 and 1935 and are situated on the highest part of the slope, underneath the nose, or “nez” of the tuffeau rock formation.

Varietal Composition: 100% Chenin Blanc

Harvest: Mid-October by hand

Average Yield: 33 hl/ha

Vinification: Manually harvested mid-October into cases.  Fermentation and aging in oak barrels for 12 months.  Vinification is done using indigenous yeast with no added sulfites prior to bottling.  This wine is unfiltered.

Tasting Notes: The nose is very open with an amazing cocktail of floral (acacia) and fruity notes (white fruits, citrus), and a pleasant minerality.  Sharp attack.  On the palate, an explosion of flavors is complemented by a roundness and balance.  Beautiful harmony & finesse with a long, lingering finish.

Food Pairings: Serve with filet mignon, curried chicken, or goat cheese.

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Jasnières Sec L'Éclos

The Vineyard: The “Clos des Jasnières” is at the heart of the Jasnières appellation.  This plot is planted with vines aged over 70 years old and is located on the upper part of the slope. Its soil is a cénonien (Mesozoic) combination composed of clay, sand, and green mica with 80% flint and spongolithes on the surface and 20% beneath the earth. This deep clay soil rich in flint gives the Clos des Jasnières the power and minerality which is characteristic of the great Jasnières wines.

Varietal Composition: 100% Chenin Blanc

Vinification: Manually harvested mid-October into cases.  Fermentation and aging in oak barrels for 14 months.  Vinification is done using indigenous yeast with no added sulfites prior to bottling.  This wine is unfiltered.

Tasting Notes: The color is a clear, bright yellow gold with hints of green.  The nose is intense and complex with aromas of citrus, spice, white fruit, and honey.  On the palate, the attack is voluptuous, followed by a nice freshness, giving structure to the wine.  Nice minerality and great length.

Food Pairings: Pairs beautifully with fish

Serving Temperature: 12°C

Cellaring Potential: Can be drunk immediately or kept for 5-8 years

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Domaine Raimbault-Pineau

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The Estate

Located in the heart of the village of Sury-en-Vaux (5 km from Sancerre), Domaine Raimbault-Pineau was formed by a family of Sancerre winemakers that have been producing wine for over 3 centuries.

In 1946, Lucien Raimbault acquired a well-known vineyard; its terroir was composed of chalky-clay and enjoyed extraordinary sun exposure.  The Raimbault family has continuously worked this land, and today the domaine has 40 separate plots of AOC Sancerre vines, all located around the village of Sury-en-Vaux (La Montée de St. Romble, La Côte de la Pointe, La Côte de Sury).

The domaine also makes Pouilly-Fumé, “La Montée des Lumeaux” (acquired 10 years ago), situated in the village of St. Martin-sur-Nohain, as well as Coteaux du Giennois, “Les Vignes du Dimanche,” in the village of St. Père.  All of the vineyards are worked in the traditional manner, with great care and attention paid to the vines.


Coteaux du Giennois

Terroir: The vineyard is situated on the slopes of the Loire Valley and benefits from a clay-siliceous soil on the surface and a dry, limestone subsoil.

Fermentation: Fermented at low temperatures (14°-16°C) in thermo-regulated stainless steel tanks

Vinification: Bonding with bentonite, traditional methods are used alongside modern techniques

Aging: The wine is matured on its fine lies right up until bottling

Varietal Blend: 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Tasting Notes: The Coteaux du Giennois Blanc is rich and aromatic and combines the sweetness of the fruit with a lovely minerality.

Serving Temperature: Best when served chilled, at about 10-12°C

Cellaring Potential: 2-3 years

Food Pairings: Very pleasant and refreshing, this wine is excellent as an aperitif, with oysters and other shellfish

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Pouilly-Fumé

Overview: The Pouilly-Fumé is a dry, fruity wine produced from Sauvignon grapes.

The Soil: Soft, chalky clay

Harvest: Harvesting is done at the end of September when the grapes have obtained their optimum ripeness.

Vinification: The grapes are taken directly to the pneumatic press where the must is extracted with great care.  After racking, the must in then transferred to the thermo-regulated tanks where it is fermented for 1 month at a constant temperature of 16-18°C (61-64°F).  This long, slow fermentation conserves the wine’s unique aromas, and after resting on fine lees for 5-6 months, each cuvée is blended with great care to ensure the highest possible quality.

Filtration & Bottling: Following a light filtration, the first bottling begins at the end of March.  Here the modern bottling assembly utilizes the latest sanitary equipment and techniques in order to maintain the highest standards of cleanliness.

Serving Temperature: Best when served young and chilled, about 10°C

Tasting Notes: This is a fine, complex wine with notes of mineral, citrus, quince, and honey.

Food Pairings: Ideal as an aperitif, this wine also pairs well with starters, seafood, and foie gras.

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Sancerre Blanc

Overview: The Sancerre Blanc from Domaine Raimbault Pineau is a very dry, white wine produced from Sauvignon grapes.

The Soil: The vines are planted on 2 types of soil–soft, chalky clay and pebbly limestone.

Harvest: The grapes are harvested once they have reached their optimal maturity

Vinification: The grapes are quickly transported to the pneumatic press where the extraction of the must is done slowly and smoothly.  The juice is then put into thermo-regulated tanks where the temperature is monitored and controlled carefully so that it remains low (14-16°C). Very long and very smooth, this type of fermentation preserves the maximum amount of aromas of the juice.

Aging: After a maturation period on its fine lies, each vintage is blended with precision in order to obtain consistently excellent wines.

Tasting Notes: This fine Sancerre is brisk with plenty of fruit in the bouquet and on the palate, as well as vegetal notes of cassis leaf, white flowers, and citrus. The attack is frank, and the mouth feel is rich and round.

Food Pairings: Ideal as an aperitif. Pairs well with starters, seafood, and goat cheese.

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Sancerre Rosé

Overview: The Sancerre Rosé is a very fruity, yet subtle and complex wine composed of Pinot Noir grapes.

Soil: The vines are planted on 2 types of soil–limestone and rocky limestone.

Grape Varietals: Pinot Noir

Harvest & Vinification: The grapes are harvested once they have reached their optimal maturity, then are quickly transported to the pneumatic press where the extraction of the must is done slowly and smoothly. The juice is then put into thermo-regulated tanks where the temperature is monitored and controlled carefully so that it remains low (14-16°C). Very long and very smooth, this type of fermentation preserves the maximum amount of aromas of the juice.

Tasting Notes: The Sancerre Rosé evokes autumnal fruit and reveals juicy aromas of strawberry and raspberry.

Serving Suggestion: Serve cool, at a temperature of about 12°C

Food Pairings: From morning snacks to summery appetizers and picnics, this wine is the perfect accompaniment to cold meats, pastries, and grilled meats.

2017 Reviews: “Ripe red berries, orange pith and a strong floral note on the deeply perfumed nose. Supple and open-knit, offering sappy raspberry and tangerine flavors that are supported and sharpened by a spine of juicy acidity. Densely packed yet lively as well, showing excellent clarity and mineral cut on a long, red-fruit-dominated finish. This ample pink wine would make a great stand-in for a light red alongside full-flavored food.” – 91pts, Vinous

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Domaine Sauger

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The Estate

Domaine Sauger has been family owned for 5 generations: From François-Sylvain, to Eugène, Lucien, Marcel, and now finally Philippe, the family has managed the winery since 1870.

In 1920, the grandfather Lucien operated 4 hectares of hybrid variety vines. The sale of the wine was done by a local négociant.

In 1958, Marcel, Philippe’s father, was forced to pull his hybrid vines due to phylloxera.  Then in 1972, 4 hectares of vines were entirely replanted with noble varietals, such as Sauvignon.

In 1988, after receiving his BEPA in Viticulture-Oenology, and full of knowledge and experience after his internships in Gers and Sancerre, Philippe took the reins of the family estate and abandoned all other agriculture (asparagus, pickles ..) except for grapes, after which the domaine had 7 hectares to use for vineyards.

Philippe’s interest is focused exclusively on the vine, all while developing the vine nursery to the requirements of today. Modification of the production system and winemaking ensued: modernization of equipment, acquisition of a temperature controlled tank system … all this has led to a range of more rich and complex wines.

Today, Domaine Sauger is spread out over 30 hectares within ​​the Appellation Contrôlée of Cheverny.

The Location

Domaine Sauger is situated on the left bank of the Loire Valley, at the heart of Loir-et-Cher and the Chateaux of the Loire, such as Cheverny, Chambord, Blois, as well as Chenonceau. It is also bordered by La Sologne, a natural forest paradise.

The Climate

Oceanic climate, tempered by the summer, and influenced by the grand forests of Sologne (national forests of Chambord, Cheverny, and Foret de Russy)

The Soil

Sandy clay

The Appellation

The Controlled Appellation of Cheverny is a relatively recent appellation; it was officially recognized by decree on March 26th, 1993.

It covers an area of 574 hectares within 24 districts situated in the Loire Valley, where about 40 winemakers produce nearly 27,000 hectoliters of wine per year.

Located between Loire and Sologne, the appellation of Cheverny is strongly marked by the movements of the Loire River, and the geology of the appellation is quite original compared to other appellations in the Valley: the soils there are predominantly of a sandy texture.


 

Cheverny Blanc Tradition

Varietal Blend: 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Chardonnay

Harvest: Mechanical

Average Yield: 60 hl/ha

Vinification: Harvest occurs at optimal maturity of the grapes. Sorted on the vines and in the cellar. Vinification is separate for each of the grape varietals by modulating the durations of maceration and pumping, maceration lasting 8-12 days at 28 °C. Racking, gentle pressing, and malolactic fermentation at 18-20 °C. Maturation is done in steel tanks for 4-6 months to ensure optimum fruitiness.

Tasting Notes: This wine is the progeny of the happy marriage between the Sauvignon grapes that perfectly expresses the soil and the Chardonnay grapes which lend a certain elegance.  Brilliant pale white with silvery green reflections which develops aromas of lemon in the bouquet.

Food Pairings: Sea food, shellfish, asparagus

Serving Temperature: 8-10°C

Cellaring Potential: 2-3 years

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