I came there on my motorbike on my way back to Paris after a short weekend at the southern tip of the département, this was not my usual route to reach Paris but with the GPS and the sunny weather it was a nice trip. I arrived there around 2 pm and many vignerons were still at the end of their lunch outside (see pic on left for example, you could either bring your food or order a dish to the mobile kitchen), which allowed me to take this nice shot without the crowd that would soon blur the lines (on right after everyone including the families rushed in). And there were quite a lot of visitors for a fairly new event located quite outside the beaten path.
The local newspaper La Nouvelle République had written a piece about the wine event, that's nice, and I hope next year they'll have even more visitors with my modest contribution.
Some 10 vignerons were taking part : Ariane Lesné (Domaine de Montrieux) Moses Gadouche (Les Capriades), Christophe Foucher, Jean Derrien (Mine de Rien), Anne Paillet (Autour de L'Ane), Sylvain Martinez, Julien Prevel, Baptiste & Gaelle Cousin (Le Batossay), Paul Gillet (les Maisons Brûlées), Frédéric Sigonneau (Domaine de l'R) plus a few artisan producers including a goat cheese farm (les Chèvres de Bréviande - i bought a couple of them, demi-sec and frais, were good deal at 2,3 € if I remember) and saddlery maker Sellerie Percheronne plus a few other people.
Jean Derrien just started 1 or 2 years ago on his own micro-domaine, a one-hectare surface, this is the first time he pours his wine to the public. He is located in Montreuil Bellay south of Saumur. He warns that the wines (except for the last, the Cabernet Franc) are still on their way, he took the samples from barrels but tyhe wine is not finished, it's a bit sweet from residual sugar. Most of them were pleasant though and nothing at all was added in there including SO2. Jean also makes beer (which I didn't taste) and which provides him with revenues that are more regular than winemaking. He got the parcel 2 years ago be it was previously farmed organic for 10 years, he works with a draft horse and by hand. This year a bought some grapes as a complement until he finds other vineyard parcels.
__ Rosé 2017, one-barrel volume, made through 4-day maceration, then 15-hour pressing in basket press, then entonné in a barrel. Very aromatic and very enjoyable with the sweetness of the unfinished fermentation, harmonious as is. His cellar chai is a troglodyte cellar under the hill (certainly very beautiful but cold which may explain the sluggish fermentation).
__ Blanc 2017 (white), Chenin, 1 barrel. He got these grapes from François Saint-Lô with whom he works a lot (I understand he does vineyard work for him). Very nice too, as is, you imagine drinking that at a cooler serving temperature under the shade outside in summer, very nice. Asked when it'll be bottled he says he'd hope it could be at the end of summer but this may be later if the wines is still lazy to finish (should be next spring, more likely).
__ Cabernet Franc 2017, 8-day maceration with grapes destemmed by hand through a wicker grate, it's better than a mechanized tool because the berries don't bleed, aren't crush in the process. The volume here is 660 liters (3 barrels). The fermentation is more advanced, less easy at this stage, the malolactic is on its way now, not the best time window to taste, a bit rough.
__ Cabernet Franc 2016, same parcel but 1st vintage, 300 liter volume only for a 70-are surface because of frost and mildew which yielded very concentrated juices with 14 % potential. Vinified in plastic tank, not barrel (not really a premeditated choice but he hadn't a barrel then). Color is lighter (certainly because he makes no pumping over or remontage, soutirage, he doesn't work on the juice). Super good, a pleasure. Bottled now, alas he doesn't sell it now, it's his 1st wine and he intends to keep it as history for now.
I was finishing to taste Jean Derrien's wines when I heard the unmistakable voice of Anne Paillet who had returned from lunch, the marquee was obviously filling up back to its pre-lunch attendance level. I had tasted a row of her wines not long ago at Villebarou but here we go again, and she ended up having here a cuvée that was not ready a month ago. And anyway whenever she's around there'll be quite a vibe going around..
__ Chahut et Prodiges, Nid de Guèpes, her white pet'nat made with Chenin and Sauvignon; looked rosé at first but that's because of the remaining red drops in my glass... Nice gentle bitterness, this wakes you up !
__ Coup de Canon, a red 100 % Grolleau, easy to drink, light, fruit, and just the little something bitter to prop the whole. Poured a bit warm (it's pretty warm under the tent and they might think about a way to keep wines cool) but still pretty enjoyable. 12 € tax included for this fair.
__ Autour de L'Âne, C.S.G. 2017 a red Vin de France, 10 % Cinsault, 30 % Syrah, 60 % Grenache. For the clueless foreigners who wonder why this name, CSG (for Contribution Sociale Généralisée) is also the acronym of a special tax created in 1991 and attached to all kind of revenues to bail out the bankrupt French health insurance (it's still virtually bankrupt so they keep increasing the tax rate). These grapes come from the Languedoc of course, but because she had no Grenache this year she complemented with juice from her friends in the Domaine de La Roche Buissière in Vaucluse. The made the blend from the separate batches a month ago. Super enjoyable wine, supple, smooth. Unfined, unfiltered, zero SO2. Also a bit too warm (serving temp) but still fine. Anne made 2400 bottles of this, sells for 13 € at the fair. Normal price, she says, is something like 15 or 16 € in a caviste (or 7,5 € for professionnals).
__ Autour de L'Ane, Anagramme, Vin de FRance, 100 Grenache. 10,5 % alcohol. Super nice color (pic on right), in the mouth & swallowed, top notch wine, super good, fruit, silky, delicate aromas of rose petals. Anne says that she brought it at Villebarou but it had only been bottled a week before back then. Now there's a difference if you wait a mere few weeks after tyhe bottle shock, a must admit. Sells for 14 € tax includen that day. No spit although I keep in mind that I have another 150 km to ride the motorbike to Paris at the end of the afternoon...
Sylvain Martinez makes wine in Anjou, he went to a viticulture school in 1998 and started in 2005, learning the trade with Olivier Cousin (also worked with Mark Angeli and René Mosse). He formally started to make wine himself in 2006 with a parcel he got from Olivier, seems like a good lead. He increased a bit his surface and settled for good in a troglodyte cellar in the Caves de l'Abbaye de Saint Maur. All is naturally vinified (and zero SO2 since the very start) and labelled as Vin de France.
__ Gazouillis 2016-2015, Chenin Pétillant & Chenin Perlant. Super easy, still some sugar, very subtle perly character. So nice to drink with this sweet edge, and there's no added SO2 at all here. 10,8 €, very good deal.
__ Onis 2016, Pineau d'Aunis of course, poured from a magnum, made 26 hectoliters of it from a 3-are surface he has since 2014 (a rented parcel), these are very old vines, about 100 years old on sandy soil. Was vinified with whole clusters, boxes poured in the vat, 10-day maceration and pressed right after and then entonné in barrels, bottled early september after a 8-10 month élevage.
Super salivating color. Exciting nose, you recognize the touch of Pineau d'Aunis of course. Swallowed : delicious, flower-petals aromas, goes down with intensity although so light at the same time, very very classy. 11,5 % alcohol. He's going to replant 0,5 hectare of Pinrau d'Aunis this year, good news. 12 € for a 75-centilier volume, great deal. Sells 60-70 % of his wines abroad, mainly Japan, Asia, Quebec, Holland, Denmark, plus a few cavistes like in Paris Crus & Découvertes, Les Orties.
__ Corbeau 2016. Same type of vinification, also a nice light color, these wines are very exciting already visually. Sylvain saysthat the 2014 was darker, more extracted. In the mouth, very enjoyable although again the temperature of the wines is a bit too hogh under the marquee with the hot weather outside. 10,8 €, nice deal too. And of course, no added SO2, why pay more for a corrected wine caged with SO2 from A to Z ?
When I stopped at Christophe Foucher's stand, a vigneronne (Ariane Lesné) who was also participating in the event was also tasting his wines. I regularly see Christophe in Saint Aignan on the saturday morning market when I spend weekends in the area. The small market with vegetable, meat, charcuterie, cheese and fish stands has one of the highest natural-wine vintners attendance in France for a market of its size as I stumble there also on Noella Morantin, Paul Gillet, Bruno Allion, Moses Gadouche, Ben Nerot, Emily Dilling, Catherine Roussel...
__ La Lunotte, Les Rossignoux, white Vin de France 2016. Sauvignon. Soil : clay/limestone. Bottled 1 month ago. Nice maturity, Christophe says that he often begins to pick later than his neighbors. Vinification in barrels. Nice ampleness in the mouth, you feel a free wine that isn't afraid of oxygen. Zero SO2 here also (if you're looking for zero-added-sulfites you must come to Saint-Agil next year !). Very aromatic with a buttery side, possibly the barrel.
__ La Lunotte, Le Haut Plessis, white Vin de France 2016. Menu Pineau. You can see Christophe tending his Menu-Pineau parcel in this story, when you see the parcel and learn about the farming, you understand the wine better. Nose is very grape-aroma type. Nice freshness and minerality feel. Pro price is 7 € and retail at the domaine 12 €.
__ La Lunotte, la Bulotte 2016, natural sparkling of Menu Pineau. Christophe says that in 2017 the yieldswere around 10 hectoliters/hectare because of the frost. Super enjoyable balance with also thin bubbles with aromatic character. Also respectively 7 € & 12 €.
Ariane Lesné is the vigneronne who is now managing the famed Domaine de Montrieux which was founded by Emile Hérédia in 1999 who soon made a killing with his red Pineau d'Aunis among amateurs of the iconic (but now-rare) grape variety. The Domaine de Montrieux is not far from Saint-Agil, only 33 km south, and Ariane took over 3 years ago the vineyards because Emile who had another domaine in the Languedoc recentered his effort there on his Domaine des Dimanches. Ariane had always work in the wine trade before, she has been a caviste, then worked in a Burgundy domaine for 5 years then on the export business when she was living in the UK. In 2013 she felt the need to make wine herself and began to look for some opportunity, looking precisely in this part of the Loire when she learnt that Emile Hérédia was selling. It will be soon 4 years that she is at the wheel on a 6-hectare surface (down from 7,5 when she bought it) of which 3,5 of Pineau d'Aunis !. She sells all in bottles (no sales of grapes), the volume is still low because of the frost in 2016 & 2017 and she began to make also wine from purchased grapes to get around the frost losses, using clearly-differentiated labels (the domaine's cuvées have labels with Rabelais characters). Here we taste only cuvées labelled in Vin de France but she has a couple of cuvées on Coteaux du Vendômois. She makes something like 5 cuvées overall. She works differently than what he did, she makes shorter macerations and longer élevage on certain cuvées.
__ Hop Hop Hop, Chenin Bulles; 13 €
__ Phylactère, blend of Gamay de Bouze, Gamay Noir, Gamay Chaudenay (gamays teinturiers or dark, coloring Gamays). Super color indeed. In the mouth, balance with substance.
__ Gargamelle Vin de France 2017, blend of Gamay de Bouze & Chaudenay, Cabernet Franc (20 %) and Aunis (20 %). 1,5 gram SO2 here. Nice fruit in the mouth, very vivid. 13 €.
__ Grand Gousier, Vin de France 2015, Pineau d'Aunis 100 %. 18 month élevage and another year of élevage in bottles. Got altogether 2,5 gram SO2 in 18 months. Nice peppery nose, the mouth has a super interesting tannic feel, which makes a contrast with the previous wine but once swallowed, irradiated beautifully with its chalky, tannins. Real nice mouth touch with dust notes. 17 €.
This was toward the end of my tasting list and my photographic skills were somehow beginning to falter when I went to Julien Prevel's table with all these great wines (which I couldn't but at least swallow a bit in order to really appreciate their intrinsic value). You'll forgive the not-sharp-picture/subject-looks-elsewhere but the ambiance is there, very representative of the event's character and vibe.
__ Jus Brifiant, natural sparkling, Vin de France rosé 2017 made from Gamay, Grolleau, Côt (1/3 each). Dry, Julien says it fermenrted swiftly. Not much length he says, but goes down easy and indeed, even in the high temperature contition under the marquee it's an easy drink. Super fresh, easy, almost feels like sweet but that's the fruit I guess. He made 1500 bottles of this. Sells for 10 € here at the fair otherwise usually it's 12 € (and Pro price is 7 €).
__ Barrique White, Vin de France 2015. Dry white, lightly perly (bottled with 4 grams of residual sugar). Formerly a cuvée named Pintray, Montlouis. Julien shaked the bottle before pouring to let the gas out, he says this is good to just open the bottle 3 days before drinking. Sells for 15 €.
__ Maison Marchandelle 2015. Chenin. Nice energy, no perly here but almost like a tickling feel at the tip of the tongue. Was informally chosen by the guy who served oysters at the Villebarou wine fair earlier this year, he tasted many whites that day with the vignerons and said this wine was the best match with his oysters (I actually shot a picture when leaving with Julien and other vignerons drinking outside near the oysters stand)....
While tasting and chatting with Julien & Marion I shot this picture of Moses (of Les Capriades) but alas didn't get the time to go taste the pet'nats he brought, the event was closing soon and I still has so more to do on the motorbike before reaching Paris.
Next I went to taste the wines of Baptiste Cousin, who started with Gaelle his own domaine in 2012, following the steps of his colorful father Olivier Cousin who epitomizes so well the resistance to the conventional vision of the Appellation system. Baptiste farms now 3,5 hectares for his domaine named Le Batossay, using parcels he took over from his father. Before starting his own domaine, Baptiste worked for 6 years for his father as seasonal worker. Right now he already took about half of his father's surface, he may take two more hectares but not nw yet because Olivier still works actively (and with his lovely horse I'm sure). Baptiste also uses a draft horse, one he bought for himself, the farthest parcel being 2 km away from the village he walks there with the horse, he says it's faster than having to prepare the van & the truck, have the horse walk in, then walk out when arrived on site... I think I recognize his father character here... Baptiste & Gaelle make 8 cuvées altogether. Expect no additives and no added SO2.
__ Canine, le Raisin des Chiens, Vin de France 2017, made with 2/3 Grolleau Gris 2017 & 1/3 Chenin 2016. Super acidity with ampyromatic aroma, fresh mouth touch with something like iodine. Only 9 € here at the fair, great value.
__ Marie Rose, Vin de France 2017, Grolleau Gris. Clear, luminous color. Tannic touch in the mouth, very interesting. Quite complex aromas with ripe flowers notes. Made through a 10-day maceration. 9 € here on the fair, also a good deal. For the herb tea and decoction he sprays on the vineyard he does it on foot. Happy job. I loved see Gaelle pour the wines to the visitors with her baby on her back whose sleep didn't seem to be disturbed by our noisy exclamations...
Now this one isn't sharp either (it was time for me to leave and cross my fingers there's no breath checks outside the village), but lovely picture of Paul Gillet in good company. Paul says he hasn't much wine to sell for now, because of the grapes losses, he brought 2 cuvées to the wine event. He made 10 cuvées this year against the 12 he usually makes, regrouping some cuvées together. And there's also the fact that the wines are still in the élevage stage, they'll come out next year, the bubbly being on the market earlier, next june.
__ Sylène Vin de France 2016, Sauvignon poured from a magnum, almost the last drops. Superb nose, very different from what you expect with a sauvignon. With the remaining drops of red wine in the bottom of my glass it made a nice onion peel, i almost it was the real color of the wine (time to ride back home...). Excellent wine, makes me think to a Piège à Filles (ancient version, the one I prefered) without bubbles, delicious. So good I'd like to finish my glass but let's be reasonable, I emptied it insyead in the bucket. Sold out in 75-cl bottle, he still has mangums, having made 2000 bottles and 400 magnums. Cost 14 € in 75 and double that in magnum.
__ R2L'O Vin de France 2016, blend of Pineau d'Aunis, Gamay, Pinot Noir, super dark color with some extraction maybe. Feels like it is still a bit young to be opened, give it 2 years and will be super good I think (but buy now because will be sold out bu then). 2nd sip hints at dry leaves aromas, dry fruits, not bas already after all.
Now a short lesson of geography & hydrology, the Loire and the Loir are very different streams, the former is a mighty, potentially-dangerous river due to its currents, sandbanks and changing levels while the latter is a quiet, tamed river (and an indirect tributary to the mother Loire) which winds gently in the moderately-hilly countryside from its birth in the Perche to its confluence point in the Sarthe river (just before the Sarthe itself flows into the Loire south of Angers), keeping all along a moderate width and depth. Isn't that river cute ? For us certainly, especially that it flows along our iconic Pineau d'Aunis... Here is a link to a beautiful hydrology map, like in school, find the Loir and follow it down to the Sarthe and the Loire.
Source : http://www.wineterroirs.com/2018/05/poison_davril_saint_agil2018.html