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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Domaine du Collier Le Charpentrie

France (Loire)

chenin blanc 

Another chenin blanc from the Loire, you might say. This one cannot be overlooked.

Just as you can’t escape stunning châteaux in the Loire Valley (that’s Château du Brézé in the background), you can’t escape being stunned by the quality of chenin blanc to be found there. There were some less-than-memorable encounters to be sure, but overall I was set back on my heels by what came my way after seeking the advice of local cavistes.

Domaine du Collier La Charpentrie 2008

There is little to rival this one to be sure. The light gold emits aromas of nuts and apricots, hitting all the right high notes. It is entirely pleasurable. A nose only surpassed by the mineral creaminess, full in the mouth. It is expertly balanced and lingers long. A sophisticated wine with great flair!  $$

The man behind the bottle is Antoine Foucault (still in his 30s), who, with Caroline Boireau, created this domaine in 1999. He is a good friend of Thibaud Boudignon (see the 27 May 2011 blog entry) and, if I were to put their chenin blanc bottles side by side, I’d be hard pressed to choose between them. Antoine comes from a rather good winemaking background, though he must get tired of it being mentioned in every profile of his domaine. As a winemaker he can certainly stand alone.

The domaine is 6 hectares in the Saumur appellation, specifically the commune of Brézé, where he produces both chenin blanc and cabernet franc. La Charpentrie is made from the oldest vines, some of which are 100+ years in age. The estate is biodynamic, with all the attention that comes with firm belief in this approach – ploughing by horse, hand harvesting, careful sorting, natural yeasts, minimal use of sulphur. The list goes on. In the final analysis, a domaine’s reputation stands or falls on what is poured into the glass. Foucault is obviously doing something very right.

Says Foucault, “I would like to prove to people that it is possible to make a healthy wine with passion and respect for nature that doesn’t cost too much.”

His 15,000 bottle annual production doesn’t have to travel far before it is snapped up by eager, knowledgeable wine lovers. He has quickly established an enviable reputation, especially for his chenin blanc. Whether that reputation will be maintained if the domaine were to expand remains to be seen. The winery owners may well be content with keeping things as they are. Fortunate then will be the few who get to enjoy this wine. Fortunate for sure.


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