2015 Domaine de la Chevalerie Bourgueil 'Galichets'
Loire Valley, France
A 25-acre vineyard heading down the terrace toward the river that is planted on stony, sandy clay soils (the limestone bedrock is at least three feet below the surface and typically more). The oldest vines in Galichets date from 1934. A part of that plantation was replanted in the 1970s and 80s, with yet another small section replanted in the 1990s. The siblings are beginning to replant some of the oldest vines now, bringing the average age of this vineyard to 35-40 years of age. Galichets tends to make the domain's spiciest and fruitiest wine, underpinned by a dark sappiness. The aromas of black raspberry and blackberry fruit are ripe and floral. Still quite youthful, the palate is dense and silky, very mineral with ripe red and black fruits and a clean vibrant finish.
Since 1640 this domaine has been in the Caslot family. Their house, office, and winery sit upon one of Touraine’s largest cellars — a great cavernous affair dug out between the 11th and 13th centuries to provide stone for the local village of Restigné. Today they farm 81.5 acres of vines, of which 59 grow around the house and cellar and constitute the heart of the domaine. In 2012 it received Demeter certification for biodynamic farming. The other acreage is on the high end of the terrace, abutting the ridge that marks the northern boundary of the appellation, and wine from that parcel is sold to négociants.
Chevalerie’s home vineyards grow on the upper end of the terrace, far inland from the river. Here the soils are relatively heavy with clay and limestone, without much sand, making for mouth-filling Bourgueils. These vineyards are always harvested below 40 hectoliters per hectare (the legal permitted maximum yield is 55 hl/ha). The grapes are harvested by hand into small crates, sorted twice and destemmed but not crushed; the grapes go into vat whole to be fermented with indigenous yeast before aging in vat or in older 400 or 500L barrels for roughly eight months–a relatively short élevage to keep the focus on the intrinsic fruit. They are almost always bottled without fining or filtration. These are deliciously meaty, dense, and astonishingly age-worthy Loire Cabernet Francs.