There’s an interesting story behind Anjou-based biodynamic winery Clau de Nell, which was the next stop on our Loire tour.
Christian Jacques was married to the late Anne Claude Leflaive, and in 2008 the pair purchased the struggling Clau de Nell domaine, initially with a view to running it with the existing owner who was experiencing financial difficulties. Soon, though, they realized they’d have to run it themselves if it was going to work.
Jacques and Leflaive already knew Clau de Nell because it was part of their portfolio of 13 biodynamic domaines that they helped get to market. Such were the problems here that no wine had been made for three years.
In 2009 Jacques was joined by winemaker Sylvain Potin, and they set about restoring the vineyards, doing some replanting.
The domaine is based on a single, rather isolated plot of 10 hectares on a gentle slope, and as well as the Cabernet Franc and Grolleau vines, they’ve planted some Chenin Blanc. There’s also a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon, too.
The property is named after the previous owners, who hailed from Burgundy, called Claude and Nelly Pichard. Clau de Nell has now been farmed biodynamically since 2000.
Clau de Nell Chenin Blanc 2015 IGP Val de Loire
13% alcohol. First vintage for this wine from new plantings. Grés et Silex rouges over Tuffeau. Lively and intense with lovely pear and spice, as well as a citrus core. This has good concentration with really fine acidity and some baked apple generosity on the mid palate. Great balance here with some richness but also freshness. Serious effort. 93/100
Clau de Nell Grolleau 2015 IGP Val de Loire
Lovely detailed, spicy nose with red cherries and pepper. So fresh, detailed and peppery on the palate, too, with lively raspberries and cherries. Floral and expressive. This has good density and concentration, but also lovely freshness. Grippy finish. Just lovely. 93/100
Clau de Nell Grolleau 2014 IGP Val de Loire
This is fresh but quite dense, with grippy raspberry fruit and some peppery detail. It has good weight and a fine-grained savoury tannic finish. Great concentration for Grolleau, Serious stuff with the potential to develop: you taste the old vine intensity here. Less floral than the 2015 but with more substance. 93/100
Clau de Nell Cabernet Franc 2015 Anjou
Fresh and floral with bright cherry and raspberry fruit. Expressive with some grippy tannins, but they are fine-grained and work well on the background of the bright raspberry and cherry fruit. Lovely focus here. 92/100
Clos de Nell Cabernet Franc 2014 Anjou
Dense and vivid with lovely weight to the crunchy blackcurrant and raspberry fruit. Some richness here as well as grippy freshness. A serious, dense yet luscious expression of Cabernet Franc with seriousness and prettiness. 94/100
Clau de Nell Violette 2015 Anjou
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet Franc. Beautiful stuff with vivid blackcurrant fruit. Intense, pure, lively and structured with some floral notes, good acidity and some grippy tannins. Has some flesh but also lovely bones. Structured and bright with a chalky edge to the fruit. 94/100
Clau de Nell Violette 2014 Anjou
33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 67% Cabernet Franc. This is fleshy and delicious with some grip, but also some sweet blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Good acidity and firm tannins, but these structural features mesh well with the vivid fruit. 93/100