2020 Forteresse de Berrye, Crémant de Loire, Dry Sparkling Wine, Loire Valley, France.
With a talented enologist, Olivier Barbou, Forteresse de Berrye is becoming an interesting new Loire label to follow and what I’ve tried so far has impressed me, with their very limited Crémant de Loire offering, a 100% Chenin Blanc, very much a hit, with its complexity, terroir influence and elegant profile making it very compelling and worth the extra pennies it costs. Interesting their importer, The Source Imports, says that so far no one is really willing to make a Champagne-level investment in the Loire area to produce wines in the style of Champagne; they simply wouldn’t get the prices needed for the investment, even if the quality was there, with people, like myself looking for more modest sparkling wines to enjoy more often. And this one certainly hits the spot with a chalky mineral tone and yeasty depth showing off racy citrus, white peach and tangy quince fruit, steely/stony notes, brioche, dry honey and oyster shells. The mousse is quite delightful with a subtle tension of electric shock and creaminess, keeping things brightly focused and refined in the same act, even better when you enjoy this dry Brut style sparkler with a meal. I appreciate its generous feel, while the low dosage provides a stylish crisper nature that, again suit me, as I am more of an Extra Brut bubbly kind of person, given the choice. I recently had these Forteresse de Berrye, which are newly arrived in the states, and really enjoyed the ones I had, especially their Corps pour Corps Saumur Rouge, which is a tasty blend of Cab Franc mainly and some Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as this Crémant de Loire.
What makes Forteresse de Berrye special is their ancient castle fortress and limestone cut caves that dates back centuries, along with some incredible higher elevation and steep vineyards in the Saumur and Saumur-Champigny appellations with its unique Tuffeau soil, which is excellent terroir. Tuffeau, as Forteresse de Berrye’s importer again informs us, is similar to chalk, though it’s usually composed partially of sandy siliceous material eroded from the Armorican Massif millions of years ago, providing this region with some of the greatest underpinning in the wine world, it makes for crystalline Chenins and aromatic Cab Francs, as witnessed in some of the most coveted wines of Saumur and Saumur-Champigny, from the modestly priced Château du Hureau (a great way to start exploring Saumur) to cult heros like Thierry Germain and Clos Rougeard. For this Crémant de Loire, Forteresse de Berrye uses grapes exclusively from their own estate Chenin Blanc plots rather from cheaper regional vineyards, which are farmed all organic and have much smaller yields. These include Chenin with vines at the highest parts of the hill and set on yellowish Tuffeau with thin topsoil that consist of depleted silt, sand and hardened clay that adds the mineral influence and high acidity here. The fermentation was done naturally with indigenous yeasts and takes about 2 weeks, then the wine ages on the lees (yeast) entirely in concrete, with the base of this release being only from 2020, though later releases will include reserve wine held back from older vintages. This won’t be an easy find or get, but I think it is worth getting, within reason of course!
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive