Les Quartz – Domaine de Juchepie (2010)
Grape Variety(s): Chenin Blanc
Style: Noble Sweet
Region: Coteaux du Layon-Faye, Loire Valley
When the magnificently mustachioed hardware merchant, Eddy Oosterlinck-Bracke, and his wife, Mileine, moved from Belgium to buy a small farmhouse in the Coteaux du Layon of the Loire Valley in 1985, they had no intention of making wine anything more than a hobby. It didn’t take long before they caught the bug, and over the course of 15 years, they converted their vineyards to organic farming and expanded their holdings from a few vineyard rows to 6 hectares of land. In 2007, they started to work with biodynamics as well. But these late-in-life vignerons have also brought the wisdom of their years and a good spoonful of skepticism to their new-found path. Although they have adopted these strict farming practices after testing the results on their vines, they still treat the organic movement with some apprehension. For Eddy, it’s not about the hype—it’s about simply making the best of what his terroir has to give.
Quite unique to their area is the annual occurrence of the botrytis fungus. With grapes hanging on the vines late into the fall, the grey mold called botrytis infects the clusters, and over the course of several weeks and months leaves the berries shriveled with an extremely concentrated, sweet and complex juice. When we visited Eddy in late September of 2015, the fungus was just beginning to appear on the fruit (see picture). A more well-known area where botrytis occurs is Sauternes.
Juchepie’s “Les Quartz” is from botrytized Chenin Blanc from the 2010 vintage, then aged for two and a half years in barrel. It is best served chilled and pairs extremely well with blue cheese, savory dishes, vanilla ice cream, and foie gras. This is hands down one of our favorite wines and a real treat.
Sur La Root – Lilian and Sophie Bauchet (2013)
Winemaker: Lilian & Sophie Bauchet
Soil: Sandy Granite
Age of Vines: 30-40 yrs
Grape Variety(s): Gamay
Style: Dry Red
Region: Fleurie, Beaujolais, France
This may sound like a similar story for those of you who recall Laureano Serres from the October Club Wine. Alas, the dream of making natural wine consumed yet another big city IT worker. After laboring for years in Paris, Lilian and Sophie Bauchet relocated to the Beaujolais region, where they found a lovely 8 acre vineyard plot in the hills of Fleurie. They grow only the Gamay grape, which is farmed organically and then also vinified naturally.
Sur La Root is Lilian and Sophie’s first cuvee with zero sulphur additions, which allows the wine an uncompromised freshness and lift. The grapes are fermented whole cluster in concrete vats with native yeasts, gently pressed, and then aged for a year in barrel. This wine is crying out for cured meats!