About this WINE
On the eve of the 2020 harvest, Frédéric Mabileau tragically died in a light aircraft accident. The locals rallied around to help with picking that vintage and his sons – Rémy, who had been working by his side for several years, and Charly, who was running a restaurant in Bordeaux – along with Frédéric’s wife, Nathalie, took over the reins permanently. Based in the village of Saint-Nicolas-De-Bourgueil, the Mabileau vision of biodynamic and organic viticulture continues, along with the spirit of Frédéric’s inexhaustible enthusiasm for experimentation and progressiveness. For Frédéric, the choice to farm biodynamically was not as an end in itself: instead it allowed the wines to reflect the terroir more effectively. This means no yeasts are added in the cellar but a reliance on naturally occurring yeasts to start fermentation. In their view this enhances the “sense of place” of these wines. An ambitious new cellar project was completed in 2020, and in 2019 they acquired a parcel of Chenin Blanc in Montsoreau, on a 30% slope overlooking the Loire. For anyone visiting the Loire Valley, they have a tasting room and have also recently opened a restaurant, Chez Odette, in the village of Saint-Nicolas-De-Bourgueil.
Saumur-Champigny is an Anjou-Saumur appellation noted for the uncomplicated, fruit-forward character of its Cabernet Franc red wines grown on the sand over chalky tuffeau soils. The wines are aged predominantly in old oak or inert vessels to give a good-value, early-drinking style. Château du Hureau is a consistently good source.
Chenin Blanc is an important white grape variety planted in the Anjou-Saumur and Touraine regions of the Loire Valley and the most widely planted varietal grape in South Africa.
In the Loire it produces high quality dry wines in Savenniéres, and luscious sweet, dessert wines in Coteaux du Layon, Bonnezeaux and Quarts de Chaume. In Vouvray and Montlouis it can be dry, medium dry, or sweet, and still or sparkling. Whether dry or sweet, the best Loire Chenin Blancs possess marvellously concentrated rich, honeyed fruit together with refreshingly vibrant acidity. It is Chenin Blanc's high acidity that enable the wines to age so well.
In South Africa Chenin Blanc is easier to grow and is prized for its versatility. It is used as a cheap blending option with Chardonnay, Colombard, and Muscat but also bottled unblended. The best producers keep their yields low and produce impressive mouthfilling wines.
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Frédéric Mabileau is famed as the leading light of St Nicolas de Bourgueil. He also makes this excellent Chenin Blanc from a hectare in Saumur on the hill of Puy-Notre-Dame. This is a wonderful blend of ripe, juicy peach, apricot and pineapple fruit, balanced with mouth-watering acidity and a lick of toasty oak. The soil is well-exposed with a high limestone content, yielding this wonderful juxtaposition of ripeness and freshness in the wine. Careful fermentation and ageing in large oak barrels give complexity and texture. Drink now to 2035.
Adam Bruntlett, Wine Buyer, Berry Bros. & Rudd (Mar 2021)
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