2017 Domaine de l’Austral, Saumur-Puy-Notre-Dame “Manta” Loire Valley, France.
Coming from a special sub zone of the Loire’s Saumur-Champigny region the 100% Cabernet Franc Manta from Domaine de l’Austral is a bright and fruit forward all carbonic wine that is drinking with a natural grace and varietal purity, this is an easy wine to love. A few months ago I featured my first review of this new winery and I am now becoming a big fan of l’Austral and vignerons Pauline Mourrain and Laurent Troubat, the husband and wife team that took over the all organic vines at Château Tour Grise and the ancient cellars there. The pair have hit the ground running with their first vintage 2016 already creating a huge buzz and winning awards and this 2017 Manta shows they are incredibly talented and are looking set to become stars of the region. This 2017 Manta starts with a radiant display of fruit and floral detail before revealing a supple and medium bodied palate of red currant, crushed raspberry, wild plum and cherry fruits that come with a hint of classic bell pepper, plus olive, herbal notes, wild flowers and anise accents, all presented without pretense in a zesty fresh form. This dark garnet and ruby hued is impressively textural Cabernet Franc with an elegant and layered mouth feel that gives the sensation of lightness and softness, while still seriously complex adding subtle earthy/savory elements in the glass. The 2017 vintage is ripe, but less dense than 2016, and will appeal to those that admire delicacy and quaffable structures, which this one delivers with a smile and a wink.

The Domaine de l’Austral Manta Saumur-Puy-Norte-Dame, one a tiny collection of single parcel offerings that Pauline and Laurent make, is from a chalk and Silex limestone site that promotes zesty fresh details and vivid flavors, all of which are most expressive by the holistic farming principals and methods used here that brings out each place’s unique character. l’Austral, inspired by Loire legends like Nicholas Joly and Saumur-Champigny’s iconic Clos Rougeard, strive to make absolute terroir driven wines with natural winemaking techniques born from the regions traditions with 100% native yeast fermentations and ultra low sulfur additions to allow the sense of place to really shine through. The wine at l’Austral is really made from the work in the vineyard, rather than the rustic cellar, most of the tenderness and back breaking work in done, by hand, in the vines, and the results so far speak for themselves. This 2017 Manta really opens up nicely and is wonderfully clean and transparent, its carbonic fermentation, vat raised clarity and fine tannins making it a joy to drink young, while the non carbonic, concrete egg raised 2016 Cuvee 253 is more powerful stuff needing more time to fully mature, both excellent examples, which give you choices to make, though I think I’ll take some of each. This expressive Cabernet Franc is pretty stuff, almost irresistible and tasty, especially with Fall cuisine choices, it will be hard to get, being so limited, but well worth searching out!
($27 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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