Friday, March 12, 2010

2008 Eric Chevalier "Domaine de l'Aujardière" Vin de Pays du Jardin de la France Loire Valley

Eric Chevalier - Domaine de l'Aujardière

Domaine de L’Aujardière, is a fairly small family run estate located in "Saint Philbert de Grand Lieu", a small village in the heart of the "Muscadet des Côtes de Grand Lieu" appellation. "Muscadet des Côtes de Grand Lieu" is by the way the most southwestern appellation amongst the 4 Muscadet appellations that surround the city of Nantes, western Loire Valley.

Despite the generic "Muscadet" appellation, if you look at a map, clockwise, you will find "Muscadet des Côteaux de Loire" to the northeast of Nantes, then directly east of Nantes, you’ll find "Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine" and finally southwest of Nantes, "Muscadet des Côtes de Grand Lieu", which also the closest from the Atlantic ocean and the most western appellation of the Loire Valley.

Owned by Eric Chevalier, the Domaine de L’Aujardière currently possesses 28 hectares spread over different appellations, with vineyards mostly planted in "Muscadet Côtes de Grand-lieu", in "Vin de Pays du Jardin de La France" and VDQS "Gros Plant Pays Nantais".

The entire vineyard undergoes certified "Lutte Résonnée" (under sustainable culture management.) They work with world-known varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, all now being particularly well acclimated to this cooler Loire Atlantic region with Oceanic climate influence. Other specific varietals complement this range: Cabernet Franc, Grolleau, Fié Gris (also called "Sauvignon Gris" due to its slightly pinkish hue in the skin, which differentiate it from its sibling, the regular Sauvignon Blanc), and even some Cabernet Sauvignon.

Eric Chevalier is a qualified winemaker (Oenologue). After 10 years of experience at "Vinival/Les Grands Chais de France" as head of their winery in Touraine (winemaking and Négociants activity), Eric took over the family estate in April 2006.

Eric’s personal winemaking experience with the wines from Touraine, where the white wines are exclusively reserved for the careful selection and production of Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, helped him to comprehend, better grow and achieve the production of a great "Fié Gris" (Sauvignon Gris), the flagship of its portfolio. Similarly, some training period done in Chablis, at "Domaine Laroche", facilitated the interventions and work for its Chardonnay. In the same idea, a course in the cellars of Brissac in Anjou was his first contact with the vinification of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, which he has now perfected in his own cellar to produce exquisite wines from these two varietals.

The specificity of the soil and sunshine of the southwestern Loire allow for a wide range of grape varieties to be produced to meet the expectations of fans of light, bright and fruity wines with great freshness. They also take the greatest attention and care during the harvest and vinification process, to adjust their natural winemaking methods to enhance the maturity of the fruit and the earthy characteristics of the Terroir and soils of the various plots. Quality is also obtain due to controlled fermentations as well as to ideal maturation and “batônnage” on fine lees, which add texture, smoothness and complexity.

Their wines from specific appellations, like their single varietal wines from more generic appellations are fermented and conditioned in order to preserve the fruitiness, freshness and elegance so characteristic to this wine region. Aiming for high quality and great value, the wines of Domaine de L’Aujardière are constantly prized in national and international tasting competitions and praised by the critics and connoisseurs.

Domaine de l’Aujardière produces about 6 whites (2 "Muscadet Côtes de Grand Lieu sur Lie"; a Sauvignon Blanc; a Gros Plant du Pays Nantais; a Fié Gris and the Chardonnay of today’s post); 3 reds (a Cabernet Franc, a Gamay Rouge and a Pinot Noir) and 3 rosés.

As far as I could taste and in my opinion, all Eric Chevalier's wines are beautifully crafted, elegant, fresh, Terroir driven and expressive, with great delineated acidity, lots of mineral, focus and balance. More over, they are very affordable for the high quality features that they offer.

2008 Eric Chevalier “Domaine de l’Aujardière” Chardonnay Vin de Pays du Jardin de la France
Suggested retail price $11-$14
Imported by Kermit Lynch / Distributed by Winebow in NYC

Wow what a wine! Made with 100% Chardonnay vinified in stainless steel tanks only, it is the Muscadet of Chardonnay, light, bright, vibrant, lot of mineral, a touch of sea breeze in a juicy, citrusy profile, perfect to welcome the much anticipated Spring and Summer seasons after a rough, long winter. The characteristics and the shallowness of the soil allow this beautiful little gem of a Chardonnay to fully express fresh aromas of white and citrusy fruits, mineral and floral hints. This wine was produce with no commercial nor unnatural yeasts. It was vinified on its lees with constant “Batônnage” until bottling. It is a simple and approachable wine, fresh, alive and ample in the palate, with a crisp, lingering and inviting balanced finish, it is the perfect wine to drink as an aperitif and to complement appetizers, fish and shellfish.


LeDom du Vin

Info partly taken and edited from the winery's website at

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