New Arrivals from the Loire Valley; Pinon Brut Rosé, Clos Roche Blanche, Puzelat, La Lunotte, Lenoir, and More!

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Meeting the Pinon family back in 1981 was a wonderful experience (we drank the 1959 Moelleux!) which led to our long association with Francois and his beautiful wines. HIs organic vineyard work and thoughtful vinifications produce some of the finest wines in Vouvray. Every year at this time, Francois sends us a little bit of his delicious Touraine Brut Rosé, a blend of Grolleau and Cot, which will enliven your Spring and Summer with it's fresh and floral red fruits. We thank Francois for this yearly allocation and we might suggest that buying a case for New Years (or for your cellar) would be an excellent idea!

About twenty years ago, we were introduced to Catherine Roussel and Didier Barouillet at Clos Roche Blanche, who had recently converted the family domaine to organic agriculture. Following their progress over the years has been an inspiration - they consider the health of the soil and it's microbial life to be the most important aspect of winemaking. "My natural evolution has led me to spend less and less time in the cellar. And this evolution continues in that today, I almost don't pay any attention to the vines and focus principally on what's happening in the soil." - Didier Barouillet  We're very happy to have their Sauvignon Blancs and Pif back on the shelf.

Other attractions in the Loir-et-Cher, besides the ZooParc de Beauval, are the wonderful wines from Puzelat-Bonhomme in les Montils, Beatrice and Michel Augé at Les Maisons Brulées and Christophe Foucher of La Lunotte. New wines have arrived from each of these great estates, all of which farm organically and vinify with minimal intervention producing pure and delicious "wines of nature."

Traveling west through Touraine, and just down the street from Les Picasses in Chinon, we find the wonderfully traditional estate of Alain and Jerome Lenoir. Farming here is by hand, without chemicals, vinifications are long and slow with wild yeasts, aging is in old foudres and tronconic barrels and the current release is 2005! (See our friend Bert at Wineterroirs.com for a great article on this unique domaine.)

Concluding our tour of the Loire is a detour to the Loir, north of Tours, the meandering stream that wanders through the Coteaux Vendomois, Coteaux-du-Loir and Jasnieres, home of light and lovely Gamays and Pineau D'Aunis made by Emile Heredia and Eric and Christine Nicolas at Domaine Belliviere.

The themes of our travels in the Loire are twofold. First, that small family-owned estates have kept alive the traditional winemaking that was nearly destroyed by the chemcal farming, machine harvesting and modern vinifications that have prevailed in Europe since the 1960s. And second, that a new generation of vigneron(ne)s in the Loire have led a resurgence in real farming, ressurecting the importance of the "paysan"  - the farmer who guards the health of his soils and produces wines and foods of terroir. The modest prices of these wines belies their quality and real importance in the necessary movement towards a more sustainable agriculture.