Saturday, March 12, 2011

2009 Olivier Cousin "Le Cousin Rouge" Vieilles Vignes Grolleau Anjou Loire Valley France

Lately, I wrote about a few wines from Jenny & François, which I tasted over the last few weeks, but I just realized that I forgot a very important one in term of Natural wine: "Le Cousin Rouge" Grolleau Vieilles Vignes.

Olivier Cousin, owner of Domaine Cousin-Leduc, cultivates about 12 hectares of vines in and around Martigné Briand, a little village nestled in the fertile Anjou region, about 30 kilometers east of Saumur and about 33 kilometers south of Angers.

His vineyards are planted with Gamay, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Grolleau and Chenin Blanc. All of the wines Cousin crafts are certified biodynamic. He plows his vineyards with his horse Joker, uses only indigenous yeasts and shuns enzymes, sugar and sulfites.

Oliver Cousin is constantly experimenting to improve the quality of his wines, which often undergo an extended maceration, resulting in greater character to the final wines. He crafts wines that celebrate the harmony that exists between man and nature.

His hard work and understanding of the vines in his small Loire Valley vineyard represent some of the finest natural wines that are currently available in the United States. The Domaine is entirely “Biodynamic Demeter” certified.

2009 Olivier Cousin "Le Cousin Rouge" Vieilles Vignes Grolleau Anjou Loire Valley France
Suggested retail price $18-$21
Imported / distributed by Jenny and François in NYC

In the series of funny and cartoony labels, “Le Cousin” is a great example. It is a play of words, between the name of the owner Olivier “Cousin” and the fact that a “Cousin” is also the name of a particular type of mosquito in France. Hence, the “Cousin” or mosquito opening a bottle of wine! Nicely done, Olivier!

“Le Cousin” is crafted with 100% Grolleau (an ancient red grape variety indigenous to the Loire that Olivier Cousin, amongst few other winemakers, has brought back from the brink of extinction.), from vines under Guyot and Gobelet pruning method. Averaging about 30 years old, the vines are planted on black loam infused with deep beds of limestone. The grapes are hand-harvested, brought to the winery by a horse, then destemmed and gently pressed. Only natural yeasts are used and the juice undergoes an extended maceration to maximize the extraction and add depth and complexity.

It shows deep, dark purple color. On the nose, very expressive, inciting aromas of freshly crushed wild berries and grapes, mingled with funky, earthy, barnyard and mineral notes, immediately emanate from the glass. The palate is rich, complex yet soft and gentle with even stronger flavors of freshly crushed wild berries and dark grapes than the nose. It also offers a focus, earthy profile enhanced by great minerality and reviving acidity. This is a buoyantly fruity and dynamic medium-bodied red that expresses the soil and Terroir it comes from. Definitely funky and unusual, ultra natural and really enjoyable, surely not your everyday wine, yet after you tasted it it could become your everyday wine!

Good on its own, it will pair pretty well with rabbit stew, veal chops, braised pork loin, paté, herb encrusted roast chicken or simply by itself.

FYI: "Mieux vaut le vin d'ici, que l'eau de là!" is also a great play of words meaning "Better the wine from here, than the water from up there!", don't get it? no! Well, it is normal because "L'eau de là" is a French play of words, a metaphor also meaning "L'Au-delà" or "The Beyond" in English. Get it?


LeDom du Vin

Info partly taken and edited from Jenny & François website at

Step into the Green! Drink more Biodynamic, Biologique and Organic wines and spirits and food) from sustainable culture and respect the environment! Support the right causes for the Planet and all the people suffering all around the globe! Also follow projects and products from the Fair Trade, an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries obtain better trading conditions and promote sustainability. Also support 1% for the Planet, an alliance of businesses that donate at least 1% of their annual revenues to environmental organizations worldwide. "Commerce Equitable" or "Fair Trade" is evidently and more than ever a needed movement connecting producers and customers, to be aware of others and their cultural and traditional products based on high quality, natural components and craftsmanship.

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