2015 Domaine Les Grandes Vignes, Anjou Rouge Villages, L’ Ancrie, Loire Valley, France.
Jean-François Vaillant, vigneron at the Domaine Les Grandes Vignes in the Loire Valley, is crafting a large selection of small lot wines including a few sparkling Pet-Nat’s, a Rosé, some fine Chenin Blancs, both dry and sweet versions and a host of Cabernet Franc based wines, including this L’ Ancrie Anjou Rouge, which I tried for the first time this week and of which I was very impressed, especially with food. Part of Poppy Hall’s eclectic new collection of offerings this Domaine Les Grandes Vignes, Anjou Rouge Villages, L’ Ancrie was perfect with their duck breast and their quail dish, as well as their short ribs all of which were amazing dishes at this Pacific Grove bistro that leans on comfort food, but with a stylish twist on American cuisine and locally sourced ingredients. The small tasty menu and the tight fun list that usually promotes small family producers that make organic and or natural wines makes Poppy Hall a must try restaurant for locals and Monterey visitors and this 2015 Domaine Les Grandes Vignes Anjou Cabernet Franc L’ Ancrie, an under the radar choice proved to be a excellent companion to the menu. The dark and earthy character, ripe fruit and nice natural acidity really excited the palate and lifted the food to the next level with classic layers of black cherry, blackberry, mulberry, plum and cranberry fruits along with a faint trace of bell pepper, leather, dried violets, anise, mineral tones, Greek olive and cedary notes, lingering on with earthy currants, tobacco/spicy elements and echos of kirsch.
Vaillant, who from what I’ve read, seems to be incredibly focused on his vines, revealing in his enthusiastic explanations of Biodynamic treatments, cover crops, and pied-de-cuves, as well as his low and no sulfur wines, humbly suggesting the vineyards make the wines and you can tell he puts in the hard work himself in the 100 acres that he farms. This Loire estate, I learned, was first established by the Vaillant family back in the 17th century, and has continued as a family estate to this day, run by the enthusiastic Jean-Francois. The Domaine Les Grandes Vignes vines in Anjou and Bonnezeaux are farmed without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or insecticides, and are all certified organic and Biodynamic. The Cabernet Franc bottlings come from complex soils that range from grey and green schist, phtanite, quartz, and ‘falun coquillé,’ to various gravelly and sandy types, of which add to the flavor profile and most of the reds here are vinified without the addition of SO2 (sulfur) to enhance the freshness and purity, but thankfully this 2015, which has some age on it, shows no off putting flaws, mousy notes or funk. This, while earthy, shows solid fruit dimension and is a solid value for the quality, I look forward to trying newer vintages of Domaine Les Grandes Vignes, as this offering provided a lot of pleasure with the meal, plus I am curious about the Sparkling and the Glou Glou (quaffable) Grolleau. The short maceration followed by aging in 2-3 year-old barrels for less than a year belie the concentration and depth here, this was impressive, be sure to keep an eye out for it if you are a Cab Franc fan, drink now.
($28 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive