M. & S. Bouchet Cabernet Franc 'Le Sylphe' 2012 - Loire, France

This summer has been a whirlwind of some truly amazing travel with mind-bending cuisine, distinctive wines and profound culture. We are lucky that we can maintain some semblance of work while we continue to indulge in our passions.

One of the most distinctive wines from this summer of 'continuing education' is from an impactful estate that we decided to import from the Loire Valley. This small estate in Montreuil-Bellay (15 km south of Saumur) has been farmed according to biodynamic principles since 1962. In fact, Matthieu's father, François, was a leading French consultant in biodynamics along with the likes of Joly, Leflaive and Chapoutier and wrote the how-to book on using its principles in the vineyard. He consulted for Domaine Leflaive, Domaine Leroy, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and many other estates in Europe. When he wasn't flying about helping winemakers remember how many times to stir their silica solution in each direction, he was at home making wine with his son Mathieu at their tiny Domaine de Chateau Gaillard.

Matthieu and Sylvanie Bouchet took over the 6 ha family winery located at the place called La Salle in 1990. Matthieu and Sylvanie chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and continue to farm the same as one might imagine. They still farm according to the strictest principles of Biodynamics, which involve, among other things, the complete absence of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or additives of any kind. The wines are never racked, fined, or filtered before they are bottled. Bouchet continues to age the wines for several years only in large neutral oak casks (some 100+ year old), resulting in very little oak influence in the wines. The wines have been labeled as “Vin de France” since 2008. The estate's vines, which are some of the oldest in the region (some more than 80 years old) produce naturally low yields, which means that the estate produces only about 2000 cases of wine each year, only about 100 of which make it into the United States. They produce a tiny amount of Chenin Blanc, Grolleau and Cabernet Franc grown on clay-limestone soils, the wines are all aged in oak barrels in a tuffeau cellar (this freestone was also used to build Les Châteaux de la Loire).  There are rumors that there is a tiny amount of rosé of Grolleau/Cab Franc, but we will have to wait and see where we fit in for any of those allocations.

'Le Sylphe' is an aptly chosen name for our summer wine pick. Perhaps we drank too much rosé this summer and we were easily drawn to Loire reds for a little more punch but still wanted a chilled wine for the heat. Translated into English, Le Sylphe means a slender, graceful woman. The wine definitely has its similarities - it is beyond alive here with classic, sweet spices and black pepper. There is a silky, tobacco quality that combines well with all of the explosive black fruit. The wine tastes even better on day two when the tannin relaxes and all that is left is the exposed, raw richness of red/black/blue fruit that comes to the center weaving in and out with perfect acidity on a solid structure. It's a delicious wine that will compete with your best Gamays on Turkey Day. We hope you can find some..