As you may know, Noëlla Morantin who makes wine in Touraine along the Cher valley, has recently purchased her first vineyards, as she's been renting the rest of her surface (8 hectares) from Clos Roche Blanche who downsized their own surface. The newly-purchased surface makes 4 hectares (3,8 hectares exactly) and it is planted with Sauvignon for 3 hectares, and Gamay (80 ares). She knows these particular plots very well because she cultivated them by herself a few years back, and she also vinified these grapes for several years when she was employed by Les Bois Lucas, a Japanese-owned organic estate nearby. Unaware of these sales at first, she learnt one day that Junko Arai, the owner, was selling some of her surface to downsize. Junko Arai had already sold some other parcels but Noëlla wouldn't have been anyway able to buy them all. But she jumped at the opportunity for this Sauvignon, and she was upbeat when this purchase was finalized, I remember when she talked about it, because the terroir is just so beautiful there.
This particular plot above has a few rows of Gamay, with which they would make a rosé at the Bois Lucas. These rows here are parallel to the woods, which is fine except for some parts which lie too much in the shadow. Fortunately the owner of the woods began to clear the trees along the block, which will let more light in. And there's also a wooded surface in her land purchase where they'll have the opportunity to cut wood for their own stove. These rows along the woods are particularly bushy and she ponders wether it wouldn't be better to uproot them and replace them. It will allow also to cut the trees roots which go probably very far into the vineyard and deprive the vines from their nutrients. Now that she owns the land, she can decide the long-term investment of uprooting and replanting.
Speaking of the age of these vines, the plot on top was planted in 1944/45, just at the end of WW2. Another part has been planted in 1947.
For the possible replantings that she may decide, either along the woods or on this fallow field on the left, she eyes Romorantin, a rare variety which has roots in the region, as a possible candidate. There's 30 ares of available surface in this grassy field where she could plant a small vineyard, but in the beginning she has enough work to handle the rest of the surface, so it will be for the future, she has time to think about it.
We reach a small surface of Gamay which is part of the purchase, it lies just over the village of Pouillé. This Gamay expresses itself differently from the one she grows on Clos Roche Blanche, it is somehow richer. Like the rest of the Bois Lucas vineyard, she worked and vinified this particular vineyard during 4 years when she was working there. She vinified them the same way that she vinifies today the CRB Gamay (wild yeasts, nothing added in the juice), but the result is certainly different, for some reason. She will definitely vinify this Gamay separately, like of course the Sauvignon of these newly-purchased vineyard, which will add at least two more cuvées in her wine range.
For the anecdote, her block of Sauvignon of Chez Charles is not far from here, just further right and down along the first village houses (a parcel owned by CRB). She named the cuvée Chez Charles because the plot used to belong to a man named Charles Buchet, and all these vineyards that she just bought here were planted by Charles' father at the end of the 19th century. It was all covered with woods in 1890, Noella says.
One good thing with her new vineyards is that it's so close from the facility, the CRB-rented vineyardson being west and these ones being east, a short drive for the tractor or the car. So many vignerons end up adding vineyards which are many kilometers away, resulting in long commutes.
__ Noella Morantin Sauvignon 2011, from a parcel named Les Pichiaux. Fiber-resin vat. Here for a change, you recognize the typical Sauvignon feel and aromas, which is not usual in this Domaine. She made yields of 35 ho/ha, when usually it's more like 20 hectoliters/hectare. No SO2 at all in this wine, nothing added. Tastes well. When we visited, it was supposed to be bottled soon.
__ Noella Morantin, Sauvignon 2011, same wine but from a 400-liter cask, will be blended together. Rounder wine. Noella says that the wine is too cold to feel properly, but there is lots more fresh,ness here.
__ Noella Morantin Sauvignon, part of Chez Charles, 400-liter demi-muids. The oldest sauvignon vines here. It will be interesting to compare with the separate cuvée of her purchased vineyard. Here the sauvignon feels more dense, there's something deep here. More fruity at this stage, almost sugary for me (but there's no sugar left).
__ Noella Morantin Sauvignon 2011, other cask part of Chez Charles. More turbid, because, she says, residual sugar still fermenting. Malolactic fermentation is done or almost done. In spite of this light sugar feel, I like that, very savoury.
Noella Morantin, Chez Charles 2010, bottle. Noella says that the nose here is a bit creamy, which is not usual for this wine. Bottled end of august 2011, 2 days before the harvest start. Very nice wine to swallow, opens itsef in the glass.
__ Noella Morantin La Boudinerie 2011, Gamay. Fiber vat, but she has also some in casks. She needs to buy more 225-liter casks, used of course. The nose here is intensely aromatic, the wine has more tannicity. More pepper feel too. Cap-punching on whole clusters. More structured wine, will sure be great after a year or two.
__ Noella Morantin Côt à Côt 2011, from a wooded tronconic vat. More on the fruit side than on the tannic side.
__ Noella Morantin Côt à Côt 2010, in bottle. The one I'm lamenting to have missed (it was sold out too fast). Noella had given us a botlle and it was so gorgeous, an easy-drinking Côt which you don't come accross very often. See the bottle on the right. Reduction on the nose (don't be put off by it, folks, you might miss something). Beautiful mouth, with gentle tannins on the side of the palate. Very alive, I recognize after a short hesitation my gorgeous wine experience. Same vinification, half destemmed, half whole-clustered
__ Noella Morantin, Marie Rose, rosé from Cabernet Sauvignon, from a parcel named Les Pichiaux. 15 hectoliter/hectare yields. Fiber vat. Still fermenting, some gas. Turbid. Light wine, a bit sugar at the moment, and just delicious like that. She may opt for a sterile filtration which helps avoid having to add SO2. She will also make mostly magnums with this wine. I understand that, even at two fellows, a bottle might be short.
We ended up having lunch with Noella and Laurent, and among other delicacies we had a full bowl of lamb's lettuce picked between the rows, this was so good. You don't look at a vineyard the same way after it fed you believe me... As you may know, Laurent was in his previous life a chef/restaurateur in New York and he keeps experimùenting and cooking...
Domaine Noëlla Morantin's profile.