That's something André Fouassier proposed to us long time ago and that we never found the time to do until this year : a blind vat tasting, set at the end of winter or beginning of spring, of several Sauvignons 2008 from different vineyards, growing on different soils, to see what specificity a given type of soil has brought onto the wine. That's exactly what terroir means, the pure translation of the soil's minerality and of the vineyard immediate environment and wild yeasts into something definite and concrete that can be experienced in the tasting itself. Of course, that's only feasible and it will reflect the true nature of the terroir and soil only if no industrial yeasts or other additives have been added during the fermentation, which is the case here. I pointed out in my additives post how chemical enhancers are widely used today and change completely the aromas and mouthfeel of the wines. When for example you use designer yeasts like the ones listed on this Scott Laboratories page or the one on this Gusmer page (Pdf), the terroir expression will be altered by the additions (especially that yeasts are usually only one additive among many others) and you'll taste something else (which may be pleasant by the way). Just read what the BA11 yeast (nice name) makes to the Sauvignon Blanc : "intensifies mouthfeel and lingering flavors...encourages the freshfruit aromas of orange blossom, pineapple and apricot". Or the Fermiblanc by Gusmer : "has been selected for producing white wines with floral aromas (acacia and hawthorn).".
That's why it was important for the type of tasting that we intended that the Sauvignon juice got only its wild yeasts for the fermentation and none of the other biotech "wonder products". André Fouassier is a vigneron from the Loire with vineyards on the Touraine/Valençay Appellation zones. While not really organic, he vinifies honestly his wines. He keeps several batches from the same variety in separate vats, thus allowing different vineyards/terroirs to show up what they have to offer before making the blending choices later. He has some 70 vats of all types, mostly metal and resin, which allow him to vinify small volumes at will, even if he blends most of them at the end for economic reasons (the retail price for the wine in this area is more or less 4 Euro).
__We walked to the first vat, a big old metal vat standing in the outside. Nice turbidity with the lees. Very fruity on the nose, something like exotic fruit notes, I feel. Round in the mouth. Asked about why is this Sauvignon outside, he says that most of his wines fermented during 4 months and ended their fermentation early february, this one was a bit earlier, finishing fermentation early january; the fermentation of the different wines took place indoors in a vatroom that he had to heat for that purpose. This particular Sauvignon was then transferred into this vat outside in the cold to help it decant and live its life. About the exotic fruits notes that I felt, he says that the lees will soon deposit, leading to even more exotic-fruit notes in the wine. But while he doesn't taste today, he thinks that with the lees, the wines should be more on the fermentation notes. After a couple of minutes, it's obvious for me, this wine has definitely pink grapefruit (especially in the mouth) aromas; citrus aromas, B. notes, with ripe-fruits notes in general. Well-structured wine.
All these vats will be blended at the end because he still makes only one Sauvignon, one reason being that with retail prices being a bit less than 4 Euro a bottle in the region, he can't afford the luxury to find the market for small batches of different Sauvignons. But he thinks that this is something he could try in the future.
__Turbidity again. Not very expressive nose, rather on the citrus side, B. says. In the mouth, I like the viscosity, it's very nice on the palate and on the sides of the mouth. A pleasure. B. notes again a marked bitterness; I would consider that as minerality (flint stone ? he will say nothing before the end...). He says that there is very little sulphur here, like 10 or 15, it was added at the end of the fermentation. The malolactic fermentations will not happen this year, and he needs to sell wine soon. He will filter the wine with clay, then with Bentonite clay, then through cold temperature (minus 2° C) with tartaric crystals to precipitate the tartaric acid, and then cellulose filters. Because of the segment market where he sells his wine, he is obliged to have the wine filtered and spotless. It is paradoxal but actually only knowledgeable wine-lovers buying more expensive wines tend to tolerate visual imperfectness, and when you sell to the supermarkets your wine has to be "spotless".
__Wow, very expressive nose in this 5th Sauvignon, with aromas of citrus, grape fruit...Aromatic intensity here, no doubt, very nice. Similar turbidity than the rest. He says that he is happy to hear what we can say during this blind tasting because for example, this Sauvignon plot happens to be the best that he has and he is utmost interested to hear comments from people unaware of the respective terroirs.
__the 2nd Sauvignon (the mineral one) : les Mardelles plot, located in Couffi (there's a picture of this plot with a small building in its middle on my André Fouassier post). Flint stones (silex in French), high-density of flint stones mixed with clay, he says that when you dig you find lots of silex (flint stone).
__the 3rd Sauvignon (fiberglass) and the 4th Sauvignon : a same vineyard located on a clay/limestone soil in Lye, with roots going deep to find their nutrients, deep enough to endure even the dry summers or the heat (you can see on the Fouassier post some of the roots hanging from the tuff faults in the underground cellars, these roots sneaked all the way through). The glycerol, the onctuosity is related to this particular soil. No hydric stress here, and also no excessive water because the're's a light slope. Visually, the soil has some stones, but not as thick, not as thick than the previous. Thin Sand layer on the surface too.
__the 5th Sauvignon : 2,2-hectare vineyard in Chabris, young vines (2003), exposed to the south. Soil : very strong clays (more than 50%) with some sand on the surface. For him, that's a top quality soil. Especially with last year's temperate weather, it makes a very beautiful, superb fruit (on hot years, it's more difficult). The light sandy surface gave this silky, velvety feel. The youth of the vines is why the wine is so expressive. That's the vineyard which for him undoubtedly generates the most expectations.
His white Valençay 2008 will be mostly composed of the Sauvignons that we tasted, with 10% of Menu Pineau, 3% or 4% of Chardonnay, and also 2% of Sauvignon 2006 (a late harvest wine which was superb and adds a nice note).
André Fouassier wines can be bought at Le Vin en Tête in Paris.