2001 Chateau Tour Grise, Saumur Puy Notre Dame “Les Vigneux” Loire Valley, France.
The absolutely stunning and pure 2001 Les Vigneux, a special cellar direct release from the famous and highly regarded Chateau Tour Grice that has since transitioned into new ownership and are now made under the Domaine L’Austral label, with the former owners Philippe and Françoise Gourdon retiring, but not before crafting some of their best wines and hand picking their successors to continue the traditions here. The deep garnet/red colored Les Vigneux is a beauty in the glass with a surprisingly fresh nose and vibrant palate that shows a bouquet of earthy violets, green spices, chalky stones and wild berry notes before a firmly structured and mineral toned mouthful of blackberry, mulberry, cranberry and dusty cherry fruits with a hint of plum, sandalwood, cedar, bell pepper, flinty spice and saline infused black licorice. This wine perfectly captures its terroir and still has incredible youthful fruit for a twenty year old wine and delivers a sublime Cabernet Franc performance, proving the age worthiness and divine character of this grape. The Les Vigneux is a 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 Tour Grise, which obtained full biodynamic certification back in 1998, this wine clearly shows this fabulous vineyard at its very best and it far exceeded my expectations, I only wish I had bought a lot more!

La Tour Grise estate, 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, Philippe Gourdon 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 of these pioneers, with Philippe farming his own single plot in Saumur with hand cared for love and hard work. I have really enjoyed the Chateau Tour Grise and the L’Austral wines in the past, especially the rare Tour Grise Brut sparkler and these single vineyard Cab Francs, as well as their light and juicy Chenin Noir (Pineau d’Aunis). This Cabernet Franc a deep and authentic wine of glorious natural detail and complexity with purity of form and place. The Chateau Tour Grise wines were naturally vinified, with long macerations and indigenous yeasts and 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 gives the Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc grown here their striking characteristics. The new owners, Pauline Mourrain and Laurent Traubat have faithfully made their own wines, as mentioned above under the L’Austral label, and employ 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 and used French oak to age these wines. This 2001 Chateau Tour Grise Cab Franc was cellar aged in bottle and was just re-released in a special limited offering from importer, Floraison Selections, and is a steal, especially for Loire enthusiasts and savvy collectors.
($30 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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