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Domaine Philippe Gilbert, Menetou-Salon
Philippe Gilbert is one of the two top producers of Menetou-Salon, a region contiguous with Sancerre, just to the west. The terroir is Kimmeridgian limestone and limestone marl, the same terroirs that produce some of the most distinctive and ageworthy Sancerres. Specifically, the vineyards of Menetou-Salon lie mostly on Marnes de Saint-Doulchard, a type of Kimmeridgian limestone terroir that is rich in fossils called "chicken ears" by the vignerons (oreilles de poules). Harder to pronounce, farther from the Loire and Parisian markets, and lacking a cute hill town, the wines of Menetou-Salon are relatively unknown but can be equal in quality to the better wines of Sancerre - and at more reasonable prices.
The estate’s history began in 1768, when François Gilbert abandoned his profession – tavern-keeper – to take over his father-in-law’s vineyards. But it was only at the start of the 20th century that the estate’s current configuration was imagined and built by Philippe Gilbert, the forefather of today’s owner. Grandson Philippe Gilbert took over the family estate in 1998 and converted the entire 26 hectares to Biodynamics in 2006. The estates whites from Sauvignon Blanc are elegant, very mineral, and have great purity of fruit and we particularly love the reds from Pinot Noir that have a unique character from the Kimmeridgian soils, rivalling good village wines from the Cote d'Or. With Sancerre in short supply, we urge you to try the unique and delicious wines of Philippe Gilbert!
Lamé Delisle Boucard, Bourgueil
It was many and many a year ago at the Salon des Vins de Loire, that I used to enjoy the old vintages poured by Lamé Delisle Boucard. I didn't care much for the younger wines - not organic, a bit rustic...but the older wines showed beautifully - like drinking back vintages from Olga Raffault. Times have changed, the estate is now certified organic and the new releases are delicious in a somewhat more fruit-forward style than Stephane Guion or Chevalerie and are well-worth trying.
The story of Lamé-Delisle-Boucard begins with Pierre Guyot, who founded the domaine in 1869. A complicated history of mariages leads us to Philippe Boucard, who has been at the helm of the domaine since 1989. The estate today today encompasses 47 hectares of vines, averaging 40 years of age and spread among four villages within the Bourgueil appellation: 21 hectares in Ingrandes de Touraine, encompassing soils of gravel, siliceous clay, and clay-limestone; 13.5 hectares in Saint Patrice, with soils of siliceous clay and well-draining large-stoned gravel; 8.5 hectares in Restigné, with vines planted in sandy soil and gravelly clay; and 4 hectares in the limestone-rich soils of Benais. Philippe and his crew work their 61 parcels without chemicals, having transitioned from Terra Vitis certification (beginning in 2001) to full-on organic viticulture. Grass is maintained between the rows of vines, and meadows and woods interspersed among the parcels are allowed to flourish, thereby contributing to overall biodiversity.
All 61 parcels are vinified separately, according to their terroir: sandy and gravelly plots are vinified in steel, and clay-limestone plots are vinified in very old tronconic wooden casks, with macerations averaging 15 days. Generally speaking, the wines age for one year in old 20 to 25-hectoliter foudres with no racking, and only a very light filtration is applied at bottling. The cuvée "Vieilles Vignes" comes from vines on the eastern side of Bourgueil where there is more gravel and sandy topsoil giving a more forward wine with delightful fruit over the mineral and acid backbone. The other cuvées on offer today come from classic clay/limestone terroirs and are built to age.
Here is an account of a recent tasting by the crew at Rosenthal Wine Merchant: "...Philippe Boucard proceeded to pull corks on some truly moldy soldiers, each bottle more eye-popping than the previous: 2005, 1989, 1976, 1964, 1959, 1947 in red, rosé, and white (the result of a trade with Gaston Huët), 1928, and, finally, 1911—the oldest red wine any of us had ever had in our lives. The vibrancy and power that even the oldest vintages still possessed stunned us, and to reflect on all that had happened in the world as these bottles slumbered was overwhelmingly poignant." While all of today's wines will be enjoyable now, the lesson is clear - Put some of these in your cellar, along with some Guion and Chevalerie...
Philippe Gilbert makes beatiful wines in Menetou-Salon, which abuts Sancerre, including lovely rosé and red from Pinot Noir and superb Menetou-Salon blanc from Sauvignon Blanc, certified Biodynamic by Demeter. The living soils are evident in this lovely wine, showing elegant aromas of pear, fig, citrus peel, lime flower, anise and stone. The palate is very mineral with firm chalky acidity unerlying pear, almond, citrus, stone and herbal flavors. The wine shows extra richness and complexity due to the 14 month sur-lie aging. This is a great pairing with any mild fish preparation and goat cheeses and it's far superior to most Sancerres in this price range.
Once again, Philippe Gilbert has produced an elegant and refreshing Pinot Noir rosé from his vines in Menetou-Salon, in the commune of Morogues, in biodynamic farming since 2006. Very pale pink color. Subtle, lovely aromas of floral-tinged raspberry with citrus and peach. The palate is very light but with good concentration of pure berry fruits. The finish is long and elegant. This is really a superb rosé for those seeking subtlety and balance - highly recommended for year-round enjoyment!
(Magnum) We enjoyed tasting older vintages of Lamé Delisle Boucard 25 years ago at the Salon des Vins de Loire, sometimes a bit funky but always interesting and quite complex on the palate in the style of Olga Raffault. Here's a review of the 2005 done in 2016 "...it has a great and very convincing presence of fruit on the palate, which remains bright, with a firm structure. And it feels quite elegant too. I get some dried black fruits here, as well as notes of black truffle, all quite savoury, with a dusting of tobacco leaf. A very good style overall. It feels like it might be starting to fade a little bit, although having tasted older vintages that may be a little pessimistic. While evolved, it certainly still has a very firm and upright frame, and perhaps this is enough to carry it forward another decade or two. Or three. Or four." 2016 the wine doctor
From 30 year-old vines planted at 10,000 vines per hectare, on clay over Kimmerigjian limestone in Menetou-Salon. Mostly de-stemmed, 3 week wild yeast fermentation in tronconic wood foudres. 12 months aging on the lees followed by 10 - 12 months in concrete vats. Philippe Gilbert's red Menetou-Salon, entirely from Pinot Noir, offers tremendous purity of fruit tied to the irrepressible chalk-iness and steely zip of the area's Kimmeridgian soils. The 2020 shows a bright red/black color and pure, ripe aromas of black cherry with hints of earth and citrus, really lovely. On the palate there is nice density of chalky black raspberry/cherry fruit, beautifully balanced, with nice sappy fruit and mineral length. Really a great Pinot Noir at this price, serve cool and enjoy! David Lillie
Lamé-Delisle-Boucard’s “Vieilles Vignes” is pure Cabernet Franc exclusively from vines over 40 years of age in the commune of Ingrandes de Touraine—part from the sandy gravel terraces of the lieu-dit Louys, and part from hillside plantings in the clay-limestone of Mont Sigou. This cuvée undergoes alcoholic fermentation in tronconic oak casks with a 10-day maceration, then spends a year in large, very old 25-hectoliter foudres.The 2018 Vieilles Vignes shows a dense red/purple color with bright rim with ripe, floral aromas of black raspberry with earth and citrus, very typical "Bourgueil." The palate is ripe and dense but nicely balanced for a 2018 with deep black raspberry/cassis fruit with firm acidity and chalky minerals in the finish. This is a lovely Bourgueil to drink over the next five years.
The domaine’s outstanding “Cuvée Prestige” comes from three steep hillside parcels of Cabernet Franc planted in clay-limestone: Beauvais, Brunetières, and Bézards. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in old wooden tronconic vats, with both punch-downs and pump-overs performed over the 20-day maceration, and it spends a year in very old foudres before bottling. "A quite classic aromatic style here, filled with smoked fruit, peppercorn and tobacco, with some little notes of violets. The palate shows a broad, tense and sinewy texture, filled with grippy tannins, and a fine, pointed acidity at its heart as well. Quite a traditional structure, but there is substance to it, and it certainly has potential. All in all an attractive wine." thewinedoctor.com
A new cuvée parcellaire which appeared for the first time in the 2014 vintage, from a vineyard richer in clay. This is aged partly in barrique and partly in foudre. The 2018 Brunetieres showed beautifully at a recent tasting with quite complex and intriguing aromas very floral and ripe, with a lovely melange of red and black fruits on the palate with hints of dark chocolate, earth and the ever present chalky minerality of a good Bourgueil. This should age beautifully but is cetainly enjoyable now.
Bourgueil “Martinière”: From a single southwest-facing limestone-rich parcel in the village of Benais, “Martinière” is pure Cabernet Franc vinified in tronconic oak casks with an 18-day maceration, then spends 14 months in a combination of 85% foudre and 15% new barrique. "There is more limestone and less clay in this vineyard compared to Les Brunetières. This is aged partly in barrique and partly in foudre. This was a sample drawn from foudre. A dark and less intense hue, but more perfumed, with violets and rose petals. A vinous texture on the palate, with full fruit and a slightly saline minerality. Full, with a roasted grip in the end, yet it remains supple and succulent. Very good potential." thewinedoctor.com