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Autumn: the perfect season. Among many other things that I love about my favorite time of year is that we can now feel less guilty about staying in and cooking at night, having friends over for a meal, and having the perfect wines to go with it. To that end I’m always on the lookout for sparkling wines to either kick off the evening or to keep the party going, and the wines of Les Capriades are always at the top of my list.
Pascal Potaire and Moses Gadouche came into the world of winemaking in drastically different ways. Pascal, a former caviste, began his own label in the early 2000s after working with two noted natural winemakers in the Loire Valley, Nöella Morantin and Nicolas Renard. Moses joined his friend in 2011 after a career as a logistician. Keeping this in mind, it makes sense that the two work well together, with Pascal handling all aspects of the meticulous winemaking process and Moses working on marketing and other business-related matters. Their cellar is in the small town of Faverolles-sur-Cher in the Touraine AOC, with their grapes coming from a combination of purchased fruit and fruit grown on the domaine, all planted in soils made up of clay and silex with a limestone base. Their own grapes are impeccably farmed, and those that are bought come from trusted growers around the town who all farm organically, with Pascal and Moses hand-harvesting the same rows of vines year after year.
Though the process of making a wine using the méthode ancestrale (lovingly known as pét nat) seems deceptively simple, it is incredibly hard to master. The process at Les Capriades starts with intensive sorting of the grapes in the vines, leaving only the best grapes to be brought back to the cellar. Fermentation occurs naturally in tank under Pascal’s watchful eye before being bottled under crown cap at the perfect moment, with just the right amount residual sugar (the level varies depending on the cuvée) so that the wine will finish its fermentation, yielding the soft, frothy bubbles we all know and love. All of the wines are riddled before disgorgement by hand, and as befits this ancient style of naturally fermented sparkling wine, no SO2 is ever added.
In terms of the sheer deliciousness of their wines, and for consistency and stability in a category known for being the antithesis of those things, Pascal and Moses are the undeniable masters of this style of winemaking. Although they do make an array of different wines ranging from briny, oyster-friendly sparklers to fruity, often off-dry wines, today I’d like to draw your attention to two of the former: a late disgorgement of my all-time favorite, Pet'Sec Blanc, and a new wine all together, Pet'Sec Rosé! The white is an intensely mineral wine made from Chenin Blanc and a tiny percentage of Cabernet Franc; the rosé is equally dry and a touch savory made from Gamay. Both are utterly delicious and are never around for long, so move fast. Tim Gagnon
An austere, mineral-driven pet-nat from Pascal Potaire, "Les Capriades" is made mostly from Chenin Blanc and a touch of Cabernet Franc. Touraine's limestone soils are on full display in this bottling. Aromas of crushed seashells and lemon zest will have you craving oysters on cue. The body is crackling with vibrant, tart acidity and a crunchy mineral texture that ushers the citrus notes over to a beautiful sweet note that rounds everything into a powerful finish. A wonderful wine that we highly recommend. Amanda Bowman
Up until this vintage, the only rosés available from Les Capriades were off-dry, but now there is finally a bone-dry cuvee! Made entirely from Gamay, it strikes a perfect balance of fruit and minerality which results in a zesty, refreshing wine awash in red berries, flowers, tangerine zest, and tart cranberries. This is the perfect sparkler to ring in the new year with. Tim Gagnon