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Intro: Loire

Les Roches Sèches is an estate purchased by three young friends in their early thirties back in 2010. It lies on the schist based slopes of a gently rolling series of hillsides where some of Anjou’s finest dry whites are made (Stéphane Bernaudeau makes his famous cuvée 'Les Nourrissons' from a vineyard on the next fold in the valley just 200m away). Working organically and to very low yields, ageing their wines in older oak and using extremely low levels of sulphur, Les Roches Sèches are already producing fine, mineral infused wines with both density of fruit and a great vein of acidity. We have added a summer weight grolleau (les Essards) and also offer their old vine grolleau (Essards Noirs) and a dry chenin (les Varennes) grown on schist. Chenin on schist is a particular favourite – so often it provides more complex flavours than chenin on limestone, is particularly versatile with food and has a vibrant mineral resonance. As well as les Varennes we offer small quantities of Richard Leroy’s les Rouliers, and Stephane Bernaudeau’s les Ongles.

The central Loire has suffered enormously from the elements (frost and hail) in both 2015 and 2016, with estates like Nicolas Grosbois’ Chinon producing less than 5hh in both years, and the production of appellations like Vouvray and Montlouis yet again taking another drastic hit (Montlouis especially has been most unfortunate and with only one full harvest in the last seven years, you have to conclude that it is not a good terroir from a weather perspective). Growers have looked elsewhere to buy grapes from other areas, but even this is difficult when the coffers are empty, and a good number have decided that enough is enough and given up. It is very sad and we can only cross our fingers that Mother Nature is kinder to the vignerons in 2017.

As we’re not able to offer any of Grosbois Chinon for at least the next year, we have bolstered our red offerings by buying another Bourgueil from the excellent Bertrand Galbrun, who has four hectares of meticulously tended vines, vinifies by infusion and cuve ages, with no additives at any stage, to produce wines with a beautifully defined fruit quality. We’ve also started working with minute quantities of exceptional Pineau d’Aunis from Deboutbertin (and please enquire if you are interested in their Grolleau), a young couple aided by their Percheron horse Anatole, who have 3.5 hectares of organically tended vines split into seven parcels near Faye d’Anjou, essentially planted on schist. They love old vines because they are less vigourous, giving lower yields of more interesting juice, but also as importantly because they are more resistant to maladies, and so suffer much less from the dreaded vine disease ‘escart’. Yields are in the low 20s hh and no sulphur is added to their wines at any stage. We also hope to be able to buy some of their excellent dry 2015 chenin wines later this year, when they have finished fermenting!

Organic & Bio-dynamic

See our list of organic and bio-dynamic growers.
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