Just a short story to give miscellaneous news, first about a new winemaker popping up on the Loire scene, here is the first wine of Laurent Saillard, who has been working with Noella Morantin for a few years now.
Laurent, who left France long time ago to work in the restaurant scene in New York came back in France to make a new life learning how to make the beautiful wines he had been drinking and pouring in his New-York restaurant. After learning the hardest part, which is tending the vineyard, pruning and taking care of the soil, he is now getting his hands on the winemaking part.
The wine is a carbonic maceration of Gamay which he interrupted at some point. The grapes come from a parcel which Noella previously rented to Catherine Roussel (Clos Roche Blanche) and that Laurent took over for himself (as I guess Noella is pretty busy with the new vineyards that she purchased from Junko Arai).
The wine is labelled as table wine (vin de France) and the name of the cuvée is La Pause (sorry, in lowercase : la pause), which hints that it's a refreshing wine that you drink for example during a break at work or after working hard outside. The words printed around the cork give a further lead in the mood of the wine : "A l'ombre d'un platane, le vent dans les branches, l'odeur du soleil, le chant des tourterelles..." (Under the shade of a plane tree, the wind in the trees, the smell of the sun, the song of doves). This fits well with the wine, fresh and chewy, joyous and onctuous in the mouth.
Laurent made 1000 bottles of this wine and after a visit in New York in february he virtually sold it out ther and you should find it someday at Ten Bells, Thirst Wine Merchant. Vinegar Hill and Reynard, as you see he sold everything [edit : most] in Brooklyn, which seems to be indeed a hot area of New York on the wine issue.
Laurent will have more wine to sell in a few months (it could be at the end of the year or even next year) as he has also a cuvée of Sauvignon going through its élevage. This Sauvignon also comes from a CRB parcel he took over the rent of from Noella.
We were supposed to stop for a quick sandwich like a few slices of saucisson but ended being treated beautiful terrines, pâté persillé and pied de porc coming from an excellent charcuterie that Laurent and Noella found in the city of Montrichard not far from Saint Aignan. Aux Charcuteries Gourmandes (the name of the charcuterie shop) is managed by Pascal Macé and his wife, excellent stuff.
But looking at this new adoptee that I pictured in the fenced yard of Noella and Laurent, we might have a few gorgeous charcuteries and hams toward the end of the year. When you want the best products, raise them yourself, that's the first step.
When I approached the miniature stable to see the piglet, I thought it had found a way to escape or that a fox had caught it, as he was nowhere to be found and the hay didn't move in spite of all the noise I was making. It was in fact sleeping underneath and with its (yet) small size I didn't suspect it was there, it only jumped out suddenly when I used a stick to move the hay.
She toured the shop and was impressed by the portfolio of artisan wines. I'm not writing this because of the banner on the sidebar__it may get away for a while by the way as they have to rework the banner__ but if you don't know it yet, Chambers Street is THE wine shop to visit in New York.
The Natural Wine Company says through its website that it is interested in selling wines that are made in small quantities, by people who care deeply about what they do, and who don't think much of those 200 or so additives they're allowed to use.
A surface cellar has advantages, like easy access, but it has its drawbacks, like larger temperature swings between the deep winter and hot summer compared to an underground cellar, and the thermic up-and-downs occasionally translate into a faulty vatload of wine, which ended happening recently. Noella Morantin thus quietly considered looking for an additional underground cellar elsewhere, and she found one by chance, an available rental in the village near which she lives, Pouillé.
This is a cave semi-enterrée (half underground) under an elegant 19th-century house sitting on the slope. She hasn't too many casks now there because the harvest in 2012 was 65 % smaller than in 2012 (healthy grapes, if with less maturity). And she keeps her casks of reds in the underground cellar at La Boudinerie.
When we visited there were a dozen tonnes or 400-liter barrels, this was all the white of 2012, but hopefully there should be more wine a the end of this year. The cellar consists in a long single room with a nice dressed-stone vault. This was probably a vigneron's cellar when it was built. There's a first room when you walk in (the one behind the door) complete with a couple of big cement vats, and there was probably a vertical press a few decades ago. It is amazing how ordinary-looking houses in the countryside hide outbuildings or cellars specially thought at the construction time for winemaking...
I asked Noella about the weather so far and all this rain, and she says that it begins to be worrying, the vines suffer right now and the inflorescence doesn't unfold well because of the cold temperatures. The vines should blossom in the end of june from what can be forecasted right now, which makes abour 3 weeks late. Speaking of the grass they handle it relatively well because they worked earlier in the season.
We taste anothe cask (tonne) of Les Pichiaux, more turbid, still fermenting (the malo ferm is already completed). At the feel, seems like less sugar here but she says it's the same level than the previous barrel. Noella says that since she filled the barrels with the juice, it has always been fermenting, when in the other surface cellar she was using the other years the fermentation would stall during winter because it was so cold. In this semi-underground cellar the temperature keeps ar 9 °C and it's high enough to let the fermentation go on quietly. The problem with a stalled alcohol fermentation is that the bacteria behind the malolactic fermentation are the first to react when the temperature spikes in spring, and they eat the sugar, which is the first stop to vinegar... On the other hand, when the alcoholic fermentation never stopped because of a moderately-cold temperature, the malo bacteria remain in the back seat and can't take over.
__ Noella Morantin Chez Charles, Sauvignon 2012. 7 grams of sugar left at this stage. to haul the juice over here and fill the barrels, Noella says that she just drove in the courtyard with a tank and filled the tonnes just by gravity, the hose going through the tiny vent hole that you can see on this picture. There has been no adding of any sort in these wines, no SO2, nothing. Beautiful nose.
We taste another cask of Chez Charles which is almost dry,no sugar left. Neat mouth with walnut notes. Noella will wait to blend the whole, and the bottling will take place next yeat (2014) only.
After having tasted these few wines in Noella's new cellar, we spent some time we Noella and Laurent, enjoying this tasty charcuterie, and just as we were about to leave, Junko Arai, the Japanese wine lady behind Les Bois Lucas, dropped there for a short visit. It was nice to see here after many years, she spends much time in Tokyo along the year and comes now and then in France. Along her natural-wine import business (Cosmojun), she has another wine venture in Beaujolais about which I'd like to meet here again.