More than a set of 3 Loire Valley Sauvignon Blancs, this set is a piece of history and the story of a very special place.
2014 Clos Roche Blanche Sauvignon Blanc
2018 Julien Pineau Roche Blanche Sauvignon Blanc
2017 Julien Pineau Sunstance Sauvignon Blanc
Clos Roche Blanche is one of the most legendary Domaines in the Loire Valley but we arrive at the end of this story and the beginning of a new story....
2014 Clos Roche Blanche is the last vintage for Catherine and Didier at the Clos Roche Blanche. They have been important catalysts for organic farming and natural vinifications in the Loire Valley and beyond. With their intelligence, good humor and beautiful wines they made friends all over America and this last vintage is a worthy and delicious good-bye to all of their fans. Upon release this wine showed lovely aromas of pear liqueur, citrus, spice, lime-flower and stone with a hint of yeast. The palate is dense with ripe pear, lemon zest and minerals with a firm long finish of white fruits and saline acids. Youthful and delicious when first released, this wine has undoubtedly benefited from six years of aging, and is probably capable of another six quite easily. Put some history in your cellar!
Now some more history...
Originally from Tours, Julien Pineau's college years saw him studying sociology and law, two fields that would have bored him to tears had he pursued them professionally. As a young post-collegiate, Julien worked for the l'Alliance Française in Seattle and later Sicily for a few years. Upon returning to France, he payed the rent through a variety of random jobs, including picking fruit, a stint at an antique store and studying soil compositions for a geology center. During a harvest at Lise and Bertrand Jousset's in Montlouis, Julien had his eureka moment with wine. Though Bertrand encouraged him to study viticulture in Ambroise, Julien's original plan was to open a wine bar. His father being a professional cook, a restaurant was also a possibility. Yet over the course of helping out in the vines (with the Jousset, Noella Morantin and Les Terres Promises in Provence), Julien began drawing his attention more and more to the plant, the soil, the flowers and even the insects that inhabited the land.
When Julien found out that Catherine Roussel of Clos Roche Blanche was ready to retire and was thinking about selling her land, he quickly jumped on the opportunity to invest in the legendary site with partner Laurent Saillard. The two have split the 12 hectares 50/50: Julien now works with 6 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc, Côt, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and, appropriately, Pineau D'Aunis.
2015 was Julien's first vintage. In the vines, the inherited greatness of the Clos's terroir remains respected: the land is worked by horse and the soils are permitted to exist in harmony with the hundreds of plants and insects that inhabit them. Julien's wife is an agronomist, so future plans for the land include fruit trees and free-roaming animals to push poly-culture to the next level. In the cellar, no addition of sulfur is used at any point and Julien favors long élevages of his cuvées, often releasing them 12 to 24 months after harvest.
Julien Pineau Roche Blanche 2018 - This distinctive Sauvignon Blanc is produced in the style of the Sauvignon No 5 of Clos Roche Blanche under Catherine and Didier. Produced without the addition of SO2, this is a lovely natural wine that benefits from decanting or aeration, then shows aromas of white fruits, melon, lemon zest and lime-flower with bright herbal notes and a lifting hint of oxidation. The palate is intensely flavored with quince, dried herbs, grapefruit rind and minerals backed by very firm acidity. The finish is very long with white fruits, citrus, herbal and mineral flavors.
The thrilling 2017 Substance Sauvignon Blanc is only the third vintage of this wine from Julien Pineau, and the estate continues to be farmed biodynamically as it has for the past 30 plus years, and the ‘17 vintage of Substance is a blend of the oldest and most prized Sauvignon Blanc plots, which date back to 1954. Julien is beginning to hit his stride with this third vintage and settling into the enormous shoes he had to fill, and the magic of the fabled Clos Roche Blanche vineyards is on full display here. Ripe, round, and textured with rich stone fruits and deep spice tones. It features tremendous balance and minerality on a broad-shouldered frame - this is not your average Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc!