Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2009 Christian Venier Cheverny Rouge “Les Hauts de Madon” Loire Valley France

2009 Christian Venier Cheverny Rouge “Les Hauts de Madon” Loire Valley France  

The estate of Christian Venier is located at Candé-sur-Beuvron, a small commune of the Loir-et-Cher departement, in the north of the central eastern part of the Loire Valley, about 14 kilometers southwest of Blois and about 20 kilometers west of Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny, on the southern bank of the Loire River.    

Tending to the vineyards and making wine has been part Christian Venier’s family history for many centuries in this region of the Loire Valley between Blois and Tours. Yet, it wasn’t until 1998 that Christian himself decided to go back to his roots, after buying 14 hectares of old vines from a retired winemaker in the hamlet of Madon, about 3 kilometers north of Candé-sur-Beuvron, where he was born and clean up the old cellar from his father’s home that had been inactive for a couple of decades. Influenced by his cousins Thierry and Jean-Marie Puzelat, he took to the job of non-interventionist, natural biodynamic farming and winemaking.  

Planted on silica and clay based soils mixed with gravels and stones, his various vineyards include pretty much most classic Loire grape varieties: Gamay, Pinot Noir, Menu Pineau, Pineau d’Aunis, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Côt and Cabernet Franc.    

As for his vinification techniques, he pretty much leaves Mother Nature do what she does best, with minimal intervention: very long macerations, using various tanks, fiberglass, stainless steal, unlined cement tank and oak, always in large formats. Nothing is added to the wine and as they are not filtered nor finned, just racked from the lees before being bottled. 

The key factor for the wine of today is the Carbonic Maceration, which is very traditional in Beaujolais and well suited for Gamay grapes, but started to see some adepts and followers in many other French appellations and regions, especially in the Loire Valley.    

Carbonic maceration, at Christian Venier, consists of filling cement vats, usually unlined with resin as it allows for some aeration or air exchange due to the porosity of the cement, thus natural oxygenation with minimal risk of oxidation, with the whole clusters. Once full of the whole clusters, Christian tops off the cement tanks with CO2 gas and then leaves the lid on, partially closed. Basically, like in Beaujolais, the whole grapes are fermented in an anaerobic carbon dioxide rich environment prior to crushing, except that Christian won’t crush them. In clear, Carbonic maceration ferments most of the juice while it is still inside the grape, although grapes at the bottom of the tank are crushed by gravity and undergo conventional fermentation. And that’s about it. Pigeage may be needed to mix and break the cap, but Christian only does it if really necessary, and usually ends-up by doing only one. The wine then ferments naturally and obviously is allowed to ferment dry in cement tank. No barrels are used for any of the reds and as I said earlier no additives, no sulphur, no fining and no filtration, of course.  

2009 Christian Venier Cheverny Rouge “Les Hauts de Madon” Loire Valley France 
Suggested retail price $16-$19 
Imported / distributed by Savio Soares Selections (in NYC) 

Made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Gamay handpicked from the vineyard called “Hauts Madon” located near the eponymous village. This wine underwent carbonic maceration with natural yeasts. Unlined cement tanks were used for fermentation and ageing. No oak, no filtration and no SO2 (sulphur) added. 100% Organic.    

2009 Christian Venier Cheverny Rouge “Les Hauts de Madon” presents a fairly deep ruby color. The fragrant nose is fresh and vibrant with red berries aromas mingled with earthy, smoky, herbal, mineral, almost salty notes and green, steamy hints (probably due to the inclusion of the stems during fermentation). The palate is clean, crisp, earthy, and smoky and Terroir driven with great acidity and balance, mixed wild red and dark berries flavors and, here again, hints of green stem and bell pepper. Intriguing, complex and racy, this is a juicy wine of character, not for every palate, but a delight for discriminating taste buds like mine. 

A touch chilled, it will be a great summery red wine to pair with charcuterie, salad, white meats and cheeses.   


LeDom du Vin

Info partly taken and partly edited from the importer website at http://savioselections.com

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