Quentin in a newly acquired parcel.

Le Sot de L'Ange

Show me a fanatic and I’ll show you a success. Truer words could not be said about Quentin Bourse – the “Idiot Angel” of Azay-Le-Rideau. While this is the rough translation of the name of his label, Le Sot de L’Ange, he is a far cry from anything remotely resembling an idiot. Before taking over a friend’s estate just in time for the 2013 vintage, Quentin worked in various fields (wine related and not) including numerous internships in the surrounding area, with both natural and conventional producers, notably a six-month stage at the famed Vouvray producer, Domaine Huet. These experiences have shaped his winemaking philosophy; his relentless work ethic, innovation, and borderline obsessive perfectionism result in meticulously crafted, serious wines.

Looking out over some of Quentin's vines, stones in hand. Photo: Guilhaume Gerard.

Quentin’s estate is certified biodynamic (which is quite rare in Azay-Le-Rideau) and has been for over ten years (even rarer still). His vines cover approximately twelve hectares, though it’s hard to keep up with him as he continuously seeks to expand. In July I was shown new plantings and acquisitions of vines on different parcels, with the classic, local varieties planted to capitalize on the clay and silica soils the region is famous for. In many parcels white silex stones litter the rows making it look as if the terroir is oozing from the earth. Quentin cuts no corners while working in the vines, doing everything by hand, usually without help, and limits copper sulfur sprayings to 500 grams a year: 75% less than commonly used by other producers in the area. 25 friends help harvest in multiple passes, berry by berry, ensuring that the grapes reach peak maturity.

Left: Quentin in his cellar with barrels he had custom made to his exact specifications and a few of his clay amphora. Photo: Guilhaume Gerard. Right: A corner of his tasting room.

This high level of thoughtfulness is equally apparent in the cellar, which, for the time being, he happily shares with Pascal Pibaleau – an old-school producer in the region. All of the grapes are painstakingly sorted four times before whole-cluster fermentation with indigenous yeasts in tank, and a slow, gentle pressing that in some cases lasts five or more hours. Aging occurs either entirely in tank, neutral barriques, or amphora depending on the cuvée, and zero SO2 is added during the winemaking process for the reds; a touch is added for the whites. The result is wines with soul, immediacy, and tension.

                                                                Photo by Guilhaume Gerard.

With only two, albeit incredibly impressive, vintages under his belt, Quentin is charging into his third with gusto. The new arrivals* are some of the most exciting wines I have had the pleasure of drinking as of late, and we are more than happy to have them here at the shop. I won’t mince words: Quentin is a man on a mission. Tim Gagnon

Join us in store this Friday 8/28 to taste the wines currently available from Quentin! 5-7pm, 148 Chambers St. NY, NY 10007.

*Some of these wines are currently in stock; others will be arriving in a few weeks, just in time for fall shipping!

Le Sot de L'Ange 2014 Azay-le-Rideau Sec Symbole Pre-Arrival

Quentin bottles this Chenin Blanc at the end of March/early April as he thinks this is the best way to retain freshness and tension. After tasting multiple bottles of this over the past few months, I wouldn’t disagree! This wine has elegant and understated aromas of honeysuckle, stone fruit, and Granny Smith apple. On the palate it is decidedly chiseled, mineral, and crisp with a hint of fresh stone fruit on the back end. This would be perfect with lobster risotto or sea bream with roasted tomatoes and coriander. It would also be a great substitution for Muscadet while downing a tray of oysters! Tim Gagnon

  • white
  • 15 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Le Sot de L'Ange 2014 Azay-le-Rideau Sec Symbole 1.5L

Honestly, this wine tastes even better in magnum. Tim Gagnon

  • white
  • 4 in stock
  • $46.99

  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Le Sot de L'Ange 2014 VdF Rose La Boutanche

Quentin Bourse took over a friend’s estate in Azay le Rideau after working with many producers near Montlouis (notably Domaine Huet in Vouvray) just in time for the 2013 vintage. The estate was already certified biodynamic which is quite rare in Azay, and covers 12 hectares on clay over silica. This rosé made from Grolleau is pure glou glou! It is light, fresh, and mineral-driven with tart cranberries, red raspberry, a touch of citrus, and a zippy acidity that carries through onto the finish leaving you wanting more. Thankfully this is a full 1L bottle, so there is more to be had! Tim Gagnon

  • 34 in stock
  • $16.99

  • Biodynamic

Le Sot de L'Ange 2014 Azay-le-Rideau La Couture

Made from Grolleau vines planted in 1954! This wine shows the serious side of Grolleau, a grape that is a darling of the natural wine world and oftentimes goes into relatively simple, easy-drinking cuvées, both red and rosé. This is not to say that this wine doesn’t go down easy, but speaks more about the fact that it is incredibly structured with terrific length and depth. Lip-smacking berry fruits and cool watermelon aromas are backed by a delicate spice reminiscent of white pepper, clove, and hibiscus. On the palate it is firm with an enlivening acidity, and a seemingly never-ending finish. I would put this on the short list for a year-round rosé! Tim Gagnon

  • rosé
  • 19 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Le Sot de L'Ange 2014 Azay-le-Rideau Chaulnay Petillant Naturel Pre

This is an incredibly interesting and well-made pet-nat.  It is made from a grape variety known as Chaulnay – a local mutation of Gamay that has red skin as well as red flesh. This combination of pigment (color from a short maceration on the skins and color that is naturally present once the juice is pressed) gives the wine a deceptively dark hue that one might mistake for alluding to the wine being full-bodied or sweet. This is not so! It is fresh and light on its feet with a funky (not barnyard!) brambly earthiness paired with chewy black berry fruits and a touch of smoke. The palate is fruit-forward but has nice mineral cut and a bit of grip. since this is a pet-nat, no SO2 is added making for a seriously gulpable bottle of bubbles. Tim Gagnon

  • white
  • 21 in stock
  • $23.99

  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Le Sot de L'Ange 2014 Azay-le-Rideau Rouge G

Quentin crafts this pure vin de soif from Grolleau and Gamy grown in clay over silica soils. His dogmatism for perfectly clean, fresh, and delicious wines of nature is as apparent in his farming practices (his estate has been certified biodynamic for over 10 years) as it is in the cellar where all fermentations occur naturally and no SO2 is used for the red wines; a miniscule amount for the whites. The grapes co-ferment whole cluster in stainless steel tanks with the Gamay on top of the Grolleau to offset the greenness of the Grolleau stems and a blanket of CO2 is put into the tank. This wine is enticing on the nose with dark plum, black cherry, cola, and a touch of pepper. Served slightly chilled, it goes down much too easy, but does have a fair amount of grip. I’m thinking that this would be great with burgers, pork rillettes, or perhaps even grilled salmon. Tim Gagnon

  • red
  • 49 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur
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