2017 La Grange Tiphaine par Coralie et Damien Delecheneau Vignerons, Chenin Blanc “Clef de Sol” Montlouis-sur-Loire, Loire Valley, France.
One of the hottest properties and labels in the Loire Valley is Domaine La Grange Tiphaine, now run by the fourth generation vigneron Damien Delecheneau along with his wife and partner Coralie, based within the two terroirs of Montlouis-sur-Loire and Touraine Amboise AOC’s and are known especially for their natural expression of Chenin Blanc, like this fabulous “Clef de Sol” cuvée from a special plot in Montlouis. La Grange Tiphaine was originally founded at the end of the 19th century by Alfonse Delecheneau, who family has carried out since then, but has really been a rising star more recently under Damien when he came back to the family winery in 2002, and who has made wine in Bordeaux, the States and in South Africa, another serious place for old vine Chenin, bringing that experience with him. Delecheneau has followed in the footsteps of his idol and mentor François Chidaine, who’s own wines are legendary in Montlouis, and Damien works in a most natural way with all his vineyards being certified organic, he also brings a new level of scientific precision to natural winemaking that makes his small lot handcrafted wines really stand out for their energy, charm and exceptional quality without the usually forgiven funk, these are wines, with this one in particular, that show incredible purity and elegance, rivaling the other top stars of the region.
Highlighting the success at La Grange Tiphaine, in 2016, Damien was elected to take the lead in Montlouis, becoming president of the appellation and has implemented many things to elevate the zone, plus led rescue efforts that saved recent vintages from severe frost devastation that has impacted the Loire and other areas. He is careful in the vines and does many passes to achieve the best results from his vineyard with a maniacal attention to detail and sorting of the clusters and grapes to make the best selection as possible, and this Clef de Sol is from a second pick of riper Chenin, but only bunches that are not botrytized, but show depth of concentration. This wine comes from 80 year old vines set on clay and silica over limestone and all the grapes were de-stemmed, and then pressed to 400 liter tanks, where was fermented and raised for about 12 months. This Clef de Sol by La Grange Tiphaine is vinous on the palate with wonderful deep Chenin fruit and beautiful mineral tones and transparent detailing, it is divinely balanced and still rich in the mouth, this tasty stuff with hints of white flowers, peach, mixed citrus, fig and a touch of wet stone, saline, unsweetened honeycomb, and subtly crisp acidity. Loire fans and natural wine lovers both will rejoice in this Chenin and I highly recommend La Grange Tiphaine, who I have been following for a few vintages now, and they also do a collection of lively red wines made from Côt (Malbec), Gamay and Cabernet Franc that are well worth checking out.
($31 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive