2016 Domaine L’Austral, Saumur Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame Rouge “Vigneaux” Loire Valley, France.
The exceptionally perfumed and pure old vine Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame Rouge “Vigneaux”, which is 100% Cabernet Franc, from Domaine L’Austral was macerated in vat on the skins for about seven days and then fermented and aged in concrete eggs for 18 months, making for a wine that drinks like a fine Burgundy or Barbaresco, but with true Cab Franc varietal character. The delicacy and depth is quite stunning here, the nose draws you in with violets and rose oil, with heavenly layering on the weightless palate of black raspberry, ripe currant, plum and kirsch along with chalky stones, wild herbs and classic bell pepper notes. Unlike the tannic and animal laced old school Chinon, this Saumur is all about grace and sublime clarity, it is a stunning wine of gorgeous detail and absolute purity that feels wonderfully textural, lingering on and on with echos of the fruit and florals. The Les Vigneux, an outstanding value, is a from small single parcel in Saumur that is set on classic Silex limestone soils and is one of the most prized sites in the region and of the former Tour Grise estate, which obtained full biodynamic certification back in 1998, this wine clearly shows this fabulous vineyard at its mature best.

La Tour Grise estate, now know as Domaine L’Austral, which is only a total of 20 Hectares, was one of the first generations of biodynamic converts in the Loire Valley along with the more well known Nicolas Joly and a few others, and Philippe Gourdon originally founded this domaine in 1990 and got biodynamic certified in the following years as noted. These wines are a true reflection of the commitment and passion in Gourdon and in the new owners, Pauline Mourrain and Laurent Traubat have faithfully made these wines their own, but continue in the prior owners footsteps, under the L’Austral label. Pauline and Laurent have employed many of the same methods that the Gourdon’s used, though in recent years have taken things to the next level, so it will be well worth following this winery that use a combination of cement, with this one seeing only those concrete eggs, and used French oak to age these wines. The L’Austral wines are all naturally vinified, with long maceration(s) and indigenous yeast fermentation(s) and then aged in the estate’s historic underground troglodyte cellar that was cut from the natural limestone for which the Saumur AOC is famous for and for, which also give these Cabernet Francs and Chenin Blancs grown their striking characteristics. Domaine L’Ausral does a fabulous collection of hand crafted wines, including this awesome Vigneaux, as well as a delicious selection of Chenin(s), a cool sparkling wine and even a full carbonic Cab Franc that is wonderfully quaffable, I highly recommend them all!
($30 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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