Domaine de la Perrière (Philippe Peulet) Ambierle Loire France
Small appellations are too often neglected and forgotten, although it is probably in some of those hard to pinpoint, minuscule wine realms that some of the best wines are produced by unrecognized artisanal winemakers that really work hard to craft and achieve their best juices.
Côte Roannaise is one of these up-and-coming yet fairly unknown appellation. The appellation is located in the upper Loire, slight northwest of the city of Lyon, and surrounds the village of Roanne. Côte Roannaise produces predominately light reds and some rosés, both made from the locally adapted Gamay grape (also called Gamay à Jus Blanc) and a touch of Pinot Noir (depending on the producer and the vineyard); which explains their style being quite similar to those from the neighboring Beaujolais (both in the Rhône-Alpe region).
There are a few "Domaine de la Perrière" and "Clos de la Perrière" in France and especially in the Loire Valley (and at least one in Burgundy). Probably three of the most well-known are the Domaine de la Perrière in Sancerre and the one in Chinon, and for Burgundy, the one in Fixin. However, this post is about Philippe Peulet's "Domaine de la Perrière" crafting excellent, Terroir driven wines in the Côte Roannaise AOC, an isolated appellation in the extreme south-eastern part of the Loire Valley, located near and roughly at the same level as the south of the Côte Chalonnaise and Beaujolais.
Philippe Peulet's Domaine de la Perrière is nestled in Ambierle, a small little village located northwest of Roanne at the foothills of the massif of the "Monts de la Madeleine", a few kilometers east of Vichy (north-west of Lyon). The vineyards, mostly old vines Gamay and a bit of Pinot Noir, are planted on granite soil on the eastern flank and foothills of the "Monts de la Madeleine". Their south-eastern exposure and the rocky soil are ideal conditions for this two cooler-climate-appropriate grapes. More over, the old vines confer undeniable complexity, richness and earthiness, resulting in earthy, smoky, intense features in the palate.
Whether producing wines under the "Côte Roannaise" AOC or the "Vin de Pays d'Urfé" appellation, Domaine de la Perrière practices vineyard management and cellar vinification with an Organic approach: no herbicides; no insecticides; restructuring of the soils by constant and continuous adapted seasonal work of the ground with aeration and natural composts; no use of industrial or genetically modified yeast, only indigenous; also vinification and ageing occurre in used "Fût" (oak cask) to maximize the wine's fruit profile, character, structure and volume, and thus avoid the masking heavy oak, toasted characteristics and woody flavors of brand new barrels. All the good ingredients and techniques to make great wines.
Among the wines produced at Philippe Peulet's "Domaine de la Perriere", 3 caught my attention:
2006 Domaine de la Perriere Cuvée "Les Bonichons" Vieilles Vignes, lot of mineral expressions on the the nose and palate, floral notes and fresh, juicy red and dark berries (mûre and myrtille - black and blueberry in English) flavors mixed with hints of spice.
2005 Domaine de la Perriere Cuvée "Les Moines Noirs" very old vines (100 years old), long maceration for maximum flavor and component extraction followed by ageing in barrels, made with grapes from an exceptional Terroir. Terefore, due to the ripness of the 2005 vintage, the age of the vines and the quality of the Terroir, the resulting wine is a keeper that will please the real amateurs and curious connoisseurs. Decanting is advised, about an hour before drinking or, as I often say, "open it while you're preparing the lunch or dinner, it will surely be ready by the time you finish cooking!"
and our wine of the day:
2007 Philippe Peulet "Domaine de la Perrière" Cuvée "Granits" Gamay VdP d'Urfé Ambierle Loire France
Suggested retail price $15-$18
Distributed by Moonlight Wine Co.
Bright, light to medium intensity, clean yet slightly cloudy red ruby color in the glass. The nose, restraint at first, developed, after a few minutes, earthy, wet stone minerality mixed with, slightly green-unripe red cherry aromas. The palate offers earthy flavors of unripe red cherry and raspberry complemented with discreet hints of smoky, earthy mature tabaco leaf and a light touch of spice. The palate also exhibits a pronounced yet needed and delectable acidity, delivering almost like a citrus sourness in the mid-palate but in a good way. Kind of weird for a red wine yet it keeps this wine in line and focus, and give it a refreshing attitude (especially after a few minutes in the fridge to cool it down). Very fresh, light, quite juicy with racy red berry profile, ending in a good dry, (somewhat Cabernet Franc-like), slightly tannic yet fruity finish (and I do not mean sweet..I'll shoud write a post about this).
Overall, cleansing, interesting, expanding and intriguing in a good way, this a great Gamay for the summer. Have it slightly chilled to enhance the fruit and the freshness, as an aperitif with cold cut or semi-soft cheeses, or, even better, serve it with a nice "Fricassée de Volaille" red wine sauce (chicken or other poultry casserole, usually cooked with a full Chicken, some smoked bacon, some red from the Côte Roannaise why not?, a lot of garlic, a spoon of tomato paste, B0uquet Garni of Parsley-Stalks-Thyme-Bay Leaf, Salt and Pepper, garnished with leeks and small new potatoes). Is it dinner yet?
LeDom du Vin
For more info, soon, you will able to go the winery website, which is still under construction, at www.domainedelaperriere.com (let's hope they won't have any trouble due to the fact that they are so many other "Domaine de la Perrière" in France, already the one in Sancerre has a very similar name for its website.....will see....)
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