Saturday, January 24, 2015

La Grange Aux Belles (Anjou)

Young vignerons Marc Houtin and Julien Bresteau formed their small domaine La Grange Aux Belles near Angers in Anjou in 2008. Production is tiny and their wines sell out fast mainly in Paris natural wine bars, and in a few cities in Europe. The winery's motto is: Des vins de plaisir sans artifices. Their wines are made for pleasure, without additives or tricks. The grapes are grown organically and the wines are vinified with natural yeasts and made without additives and little, if any, addition of sulfites.

The "Fragile" is 100% Chenin Blanc from 20-40 year-old vines planted in clay-limestone and schist soils. The fruit for this cuvee is harvested late with 5%-10% botrytis. Of course, the wine is fully fermented, bone-dry with less than 2 g/l residual sugar. I've always believed that the best dry Chenins are harvested with a bit of botrytis, as the wines offer Chenin's full potential. The wine was barrel-fermented and aged in second and third-year barrels using native yeasts and without any additives and no addition of sulfites. The flavors are sharp and intense, well layered, and getting deeper and deeper on the palate.

An incredible Pineau d'Aunis is the Brise d'Aunis from La Grange Aux Belles. Aptly called "Brise" (breeze) for that's the sensation I feel drinking it. It's a clever tongue-in-cheek, of course, since it's a Vin de France, hence Marc and Julien can't put the varietal on the label, as well as the vintage. Kudos to their creativity and to the lusciousness of this wine! Bright, intense flavors. So good to pair with any food.

Vin de France (Anjou White) "Fragile", La Grange Aux Belles (2012) $25.00 (order here)

Vin de France "Brise d'Aunis", La Grange Aux Belles (2013) $22.00 (order here)

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