Francois and Pascaline Plouzeau maintain an immaculate vineyard near the fascinating village of Richelieu which lies south of Tours quite close to the Chinon region.
Here they implement strict biodynamic vineyard practices which are certified by Ecocert and Biodyvin. A feature of their lovely wines is the wonderful set of labels produced by local artists that reflect the naming of the wine. So the racy Cendrillon white, as the name suggests, has a Cinderella theme. Tasmanians will note a Samek-like whimsy in some of the paintings.
Their wines have been very well-received in the United States with the Washington Post raving about the straight Sauvignon Blanc and Parker rating the Cendrillon highly in edition 172 of the Wine Advocate.
All the wines produced here are certified organic by Ecocert and biodynamic by Biodyvin.
Domaine de la Garrelière Le P’tit Ch’nin 2020
This is a new cuvée for the Plouzeau family. It is a 100% Chenin Blanc made from grapes picked from younger vines than the Le Chenin de la Colline described below. These vines vary from 5 to 10 years old.
The grapes were directly and quite slowly pressed (to allow some interaction with the skins which extracts some extra polyphenols thus contributing to the texture of the wine) and the juice transferred to a steel tank where fermentation took place over a period of 2 weeks using only the natural yeasts.
Because the vineyards have been managed biodynamically for so long (since 1993) the Plouzeau family rarely have any problems with fermentation due to the healthy vineyards producing healthy yeasts that are reflective of the time and place here – in other words they are an important part of the terroir.
The juice was transferred to 500 litre old wooden barrels for a period of 6 months and then bottled.
The result is a lively and quite delicious wine that is perfect with a wide range of foods. And, once again, the label is joyful and uplifting!
Domaine de la Garrelière Touraine Cendrillon 2019
It is wonderful to have this lovely wine in Australia again! The name comes from the fictional poor girl who became a princess.
When we were doing the research about this wine and the origins of the name, we were surprised to find that the story has been around since ancient Greek times with a similar story written by Strabo in 7BC.
It was not until 1697, that the French author Charles Perrault wrote the version that included the pumpkin and the glass slippers (which you can see on the label).
His version was called Cendrillon, the French name for Cinderella.
This wine is made from the best Sauvignon Blanc grapes from the biodynamic vineyards that surround the cellar on the hill outside the village of Richelieu. Just 33% of the Sauvignon Blanc spent some time in old oak 500 litre barrels to provide additional complexity.
This is a fascinating wine for us. The first couple of sips mark it as an interesting wine but, gradually, it opens up in the glass to reveal citrus notes and a fine line of minerality as well as a complexity that belies its price.
RRP: $43 (SOLD OUT)
Domaine de la Garrelière Vin de France Gamay Sans Tra La La 2020
This long-running favourite is made from 100% Gamay and is fermented naturally without the ‘help’ of commercial yeasts. The vines from which the grapes are sourced are around 40 years old and in their prime.
The vines grow in Aeolian sand and clay derived from flint which, in turn, is sitting on a layer of limestone.
After harvesting in small crates, the grapes undergo carbonic maceration for a period of twelve days in 2020. The juice was then pressed and left on skins for one to two weeks and then is racked off to large concrete tanks.
It is fresh, lively, full of flavour and, above all, delicious. Good for drinking anytime, anywhere.
The joyous label captures the essence of this wine. The French would call this a ‘gouleyant’ wine, meaning that it is gluggable or smashable.
The 2020 cuvee is particularly good. It is fresh, it has vibrant colour, it is expressive of the Gamay grape and it is gluggable.
RRP: $43 (SOLD OUT)
Domaine de la Garrelière Touraine Le Blanc 2017
This entry-level wine from the Touraine appellation is made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. This grape variety is very popular at the eastern end of the Loire running from Sancerre through to Touraine where it thrive on the rolling plains below the interesting city of Tours.
The Sauvignon Blanc provides the characteristic aromas and taste profiles that you expect from wines made from this grape in the Loire Valley, however the vines have been treated biodynamically therefore the vines and the grapes are healthier.
This vintage is particularly delicious with clean, fresh, vibrant flavours and a long finish.
We think that the Le Blanc represents excellent value for money – and it is biodynamic and fermented naturally thus providing additional complexity.
RRP: SOLD OUT
Domaine de la Garrelière Touraine Le Rosé de la Cabane 2020
In the past this cuvée has been a blend of Cabernet Franc and Gamay, but this year they decided to make it just from Cabernet Franc and we are delighted with the results.
This is yet another great example reflecting how much influence biodynamic farming has on the quality of the fruit. It is interesting to note on their Web site that the Plouzeau family also talk specifically about the effect of climate change leading to the harvest being much earlier than 10 or 20 years ago. This is something we are seeing throughout France now. The harvest for the Cabernet Franc grapes (which is a slow ripening variety) finished on September where previously the harvest was in mid to late October!
The grapes were pressed slowly to extract some colour from the skins, but only enough to make it clearly identifiable as a rosé.
It was fermented in a concrete tank and then bottled with the addition of a tiny amount of sulphite. You can really taste the fruit in this very appealing wine!
This is a bright, fresh, fruity and deeply-flavoured light pink rosé that is perfect as an aperitif.
Only a tiny amount of sulphite was added at bottling (between 1.5 and 2 grams per litre as opposed to figures ranging from 50 grams per litre to 150 grams per litre in conventional wines).
Domaine de la Garrelière Touraine Le Chenin de la Colline 2019
This lovely wine from the Touraine appellation is made from 100% Chenin Blanc, a grape which reaches its highest expression in the Loire Valley. Locally this grape is referred to as “Le Pineau de Loire”.
On the Plouzeau estate, the clay and flint soils seem to coax even more flavour from the 20 year old vines of Chenin to produce elegant wines with great flavour. The slopes on which the vines thrive face south west.
We think that the Le Chenin represents excellent value for money – and it is biodynamic and is made naturally. It is rare to be able to access a well-made Chenin Blanc from the Loire made with such dedication for a price like this!
The Plouzeau family recommend that this wine be drunk with white meats such as chicken, but we thin that it can also be drunk as an aperitif.
We also like the label with its gentle nod to the biodynamic winemaking approach that Francois is so passionate about (and has been since 1993). The label depicts a winemaker saluting the moon (which has so much influence on the vineyard) with a glass of their wine.
RRP: $45 (SOLD OUT)
Domaine de la Garrelière Touraine Marquis de C Blanc 2018
The Marquis de C is a beautiful wine made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, which is rare in the Touraine region of the Loire Valley with Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc being more common.
The grapes were pressed and the juice transferred to 500 litre wooden fûts for fermentation and maturation on lees for 12 months without any battonage.
The grapes were hand harvested from thirty year old vines in early October with a yield around a very low 25 hectolitres per hectare. The vineyard soils are flint and flint clays sitting over limestone.
The name for this wine comes from one of the works of the prolific 17th Century French author Charles Perrault who either adapted or was the originator of many fairy tales including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Puss in Boots.
It is from Puss in Boots that the character Marquis de Carabas is to be found and this fictional character is from where the name for this wine is derived.
RRP: $53 (SOLD OUT)
Domaine de la Garrelière Milliard d’Etoiles
This pétillant naturel is a non-vintage blend of Cabernet Franc (40%) and Chenin Blanc (40%) made as a pet-nat (but a complex one). The reason it is non-vintage is that 20% of the juice is a still wine from the previous vintage which the Plouzeau family say is to provide the wine with maturity and wisdom!!
The grapes from the current vintage were direct pressed (to ensure that the resultant wine was white and attained that distinct texture derived from red grapes with white juice) and then fermented in tank then cooled a little to slow the fermentation.
It was bottled between 18 – 20 grams per litre of residual sugar where it kept fermenting to produce the bubbles until it was quite dry.
It was aged for a year and riddled by hand for a month then disgorged in February of this year. It has no added sulphites. The name translates as a “billion stars”.
RRP: $55 (SOLD OUT)