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2014 was the last vintage at Clos Roche Blanche, the estate inherited by Catherine Roussel from her grandfather and managed by Catherine and Didier Barouillet. It was one of the most important estates in the Loire Valley and an inspiration to young vignerons who followed their conversion to organic and biodynamic farming and more natural methods of winemaking. A succession was uncertain until Julien Pineau (already working at the estate) and Laurent Saillard (then working with Noella Morantin) were each able to purchase half the vines and begin making wine in 2015. Julien had "discovered" wine while doing harvest with Bertrand Jousset in Montlouis, then took a viticulture degree in Amboise and worked with Jean-Christophe Comor in Provence. Returning to the Loire, Julien worked a year at CRB under Didier before purchasing his half of the estate - and though Catherine and Didier "retired," they both worked for Julien during the 2015 harvest! Julien's plans for the beautiful Clos include planting Menu Pineau and fruit trees. "Our goal is to have more than just vines in the Clos: different fruit trees and vegetable patches, but also livestock to diversify this already incredible eco-system even more."
The first group of 2015s from Julien have just arrived, and while they are made in a slightly different style, with a bit less extraction for the reds and zero sulfur for the Sauvignon Blanc, they are obviously from the same wonderful terroir and living soils of the Clos Roche Blanche, so lovingly and naturally tended by Catherine and Didier. We urge you to try them!
Julien Pineau, who now owns 6.5 hectares of the Clos Roche Blanche, has made a wonderful start with his "Roche Blanche" Sauvignon Blanc. Of course, having Didier and Catherine working for him helped, and he had trained for a year under Didier as well. Produced without the addition of SO2, this is a lovely natural wine that benefits from decanting or aeration, then shows aromas of white fruits, melon, lemon peel and lime-flower with bright herbal notes. The palate is supple and ripe but with brightness and lift from firm acidity, with dried pear, citrus, stone and fines herbes. Nice density and length as well, and the wine improved nicely with a few days open. Highly recommended for lovers of natural wines! David Lillie
This is a lovely Pineau d'Aunis and a worthy successor to the reds and rosés made from this great vineyard by our friends Catherine Roussel and Didier Barrouillet until their recent retirement. Continuing their exemplary vineyard work, the young Julien Pineau (no relation to the grapes of the same name) has a slightly different style in the cellar. This delicious wine undergoes a two-week whole-cluster fermentation in vat with a tiny addition of SO2, but with none added at bottling. The wine shows beautiful aromas of red currant, cranberry, rose, white pepper and plum. The palate is bright and balanced with pretty berry fruits, crisp acidity and terrific length. The Clos Roche Blanche lives on in this beautiful Pineau D'Aunis! David Lillie
Among the first releases from Julien Pineau, the new proprietor at Clos Roche Blanche, is this beautiful and somewhat unusual Cabernet Franc. The wine undergoes a three-week whole-cluster fermentation, followed by aging in old barrels with minimal sulfur. The aromas are subtle and deep with blackberry, red currant, violet, spice, licorice and earth. Lovely round blackberry and strawberry fruit on the palate - earthy, smokey and quite mineral. The wine has unique, very pretty aromas and flavors that are not "typical" of Cabernet Franc . It's a lovely natural wine and a fascinating expression of the living soils at this great estate. David Lillie
Ever since we heard the news that Julien Pineau and Laurent Saillard would each be taking over half of the famed Clos Roche Blanche estate upon Catherine and Didier's retirement last summer, we were excitedly awaiting the 2015s. Julien’s wines have now arrived and are absolutely fantastic! This pét nat is made from Cabernet Sauvignon and is a refreshing, yet somewhat savory wine that is very intriguing. It is high-toned and quite exotic on the nose with notes of red currant, tangerine pith, tamarind, and brown spice. The palate is gently sparkling, juicy, and tart with a lip-smacking acidity, almost like biting into a mandarin orange. There is also a strong presence of red berries and a hint of peach. Tim Gagnon