As you can probably tell by the name, this next chenin blanc is from France. Like the Sauvignon Blanc sampled for VV3, this wine is also from the Loire Valley, specifically the Saumur AOC. This too was recommended by Ben Christiansen at the Waterford Wine Company.
Situated on the south or “left” bank of the Loire River, Saumer lies between Angers and Tours. About 3 miles southwest is the village of Varrains. This is where you’ll find the vineyards of Domaine des Roche Neuves. This area of the Loire is laced with sandstone, flint and aluvial silts. The same tuffeau limestone used to build the historic castles and châteaux also plays a critical role in the quality and style of the wines in this region.
L’Insolite, which translates to “out of the ordinary,” is a dry Chenin Blanc. In a region that excels at making off-dry and sweet chenin blancs this is truly unusual. In 1996 the proprietor of Domain des Roche Neuves, Thierry Germain, purchased a small plot of very old vines (now over 80 years old) and began produding a dry chenin blanc. Here they follow strict biodynamic farming methods to preserve as much of the natural fruit character (and the environment) as possible and maximize the expression of terroir. When the grapes are harvested the juice is fermented in oak tanks and then allowed to rest on its lees in several different types of oak barrels. The winemakers use this combination of terroir, yeasts and oak to give us a complex and unique wine.
I will have to admit that this was one of the more difficult wines to get our heads wrapped around. There were a lot of things going on in this wine that we didn’t expect! L’Insolite had a much richer yellow color than the South African Chenin Blanc (See VV4). Rich herbal aromas combined with those of citrus, pears, and apricots. Nuts and minerals intertwined with the light flavors of herbs and citrus. The oak fermentation and aging was evidenced by the nutty, vanilla undercurrents that lingered through the finish.
This wine was fantastic! Thanks Ben!
2006 Domaine des Roche Neuves “L’Insolite” ($30)
- 100% Chenin Blanc
- Varrains, France (Saumur AOC, Loire Valley)
- Importer’s Information Sheet