2011 Domaine Guiberteau, Saumur Blanc, Clos des Carmes, Monopole Breze, Loire Valley, France.
The remarkable fresh and vibrant 2011 Clos des Carmes Monopole Breze is full of life with ton of reduction to start before opening up to it’s pure Chenin character with gritty flint rock, matchstick and steely mineral coming through on the nose, very reminiscent of an old school Puligny-Montrachet with lemon and pear fruits showing in the background. This is a wine to take your time with, it will not work to a timetable, give it air and enjoy the ride, it is a white wine that behaves more like a firm red wine in the glass, it’s quite extraordinary to say the least, and you’ll need food to get the soul of this glorious Chenin Blanc to reveal itself, at least some soft creamy cheeses.
Romain Guiberteau, who works all organic, is like the Raveneau or Roulot of Saumur, handcrafting intense and lively wines, especially his whites, which are mostly all non malo and vivid with brisk acidity, making him one of the hottest winemakers in the Loire. Breze is like the Batard-Montrachet of the Loire, and especially Saumur, which is a region in the spotlight, and Romain’s version from Clos des Carmes is a special walled vineyard which is planted to a massal selection of Chenin Blanc clones. It was Romain’s grandfather who acquired this historic parcel on the hill of Brézé back in 1955, and it is, as importer Becky Wasserman notes, one of the three clos of Brézé classified as “Très Grands Vins de Saumur” by Maurice Edmond Saillant, the renowned Loire expert.
The 2011 Clos des Carmes, which is set on a south-facing site set on clay and silted soils was whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented using only indigenous yeasts without malos, as mentioned, and aged on its lees for 18 months, the French oak used was not new, mostly 1 and 2 year old casks. This vibrant and slow evolving cuvee is only from the absolute best vines and barrels, anything not living up to Romain’s high standards gets declssified. These 2011 Clos des Carmes Saumur Blanc by Guiberteau adds preserved citrus, wild peach and golden fig fruits, wet stone, a touch of herb and light toast in the glass and its ultra clear pale hue shines, making it seem much younger to the senses than the case. The only problem with these uber geeky Guiberteau(s) is the price, which makes exploring them less attractive when compared to white Burgundy even, but certainly Chenin fans will pony up for these wonderfully hand made unique, intriguing and rare wines.
($79 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive