2015 Laurent Herlin, Bourgueil Rouge, Illuminations, Loire Valley, France.
The 2015 Illuminations Bourgueil by Laurent Herlin is a unique Cab Franc with lots of interesting fruit and spiciness showing an almost Chinato like herbal frill and a juicy palate of strawberry, cherry and vine picked red berries. Takes a few minutes in the glass to fully open to reveal more familiar Franc elements with some briar, bell pepper and racy currant coming through in this garnet/crimson red wine. A touch of earthy/funk, stemmy like bramble and earth shows up as well, along with wild flowers and chalky too in a subtle way that adds complexity to this medium bodied, easy drinking Loire Valley Cab Franc, with everything folding in nicely to make for a playful version of this grape.
As mentioned recently in my review of this estate’s sparkler, Laurent Herlin is new to most Americans, the Herlin wines from France’s Loire Valley are all natural bottlings that mostly are Cabernet Franc based , using grapes from in and around the classic area of Bourgueil. All farmed now according to biodynamic principals and with vines on a mix of sand, gravel, silicieous clay, limestone and tuffeau soils. The Illuminations, 100% Cab Franc, one of Herlin’s Bourgueil offerings, is native yeast fermented without any sulfur additions and aged for 12 months in only (neutral) old oak barrels. Laurent Herlin, who has been working without chemical inputs since 2009 is working to Demeter standards, and is a welcome new face to our (USA) natural wine scene with his serious and soulful, but fun wines. This 2015 Illuminations drinks well and could get better with another 2 or 3 years in bottle, I will enjoy seeing where it goes and don’t forget Herlin’s Cintre Sparkler, which is a lovely Pet-Nat.
($30 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive