|Christine & Herve' Villemade with Eric Texier at Drifters Wife, Portland, ME
With a winter chill still upon us here in early March, it was a pleasure to be warmed and thoroughly transported by the presence of two French winemakers and their wines here this past week.
Hervé Villemade and Eric Texier, along with Christine Villemade and Josefa Concannon (Louis Dressner Selections) paid us a visit at Drifters Wife in Portland last week. A selection of their wines was featured for this special event ... lively tasting and conversation ensued!
While the two hail from different regions in France, Villemade from the Loire Valley and Texier from the Rhone region, there was much camaraderie at hand. It is after all about the wines and a passion for all that entails, from the soil/terroir to cultivation of grapes in the vineyards and process of winemaking in the cellar. They both create natural wines, that being with very little intervention and/or little or no additives. They are both certified organic.
Hervé has vineyards in Touraine in Cellettes in the Loire region. His family estate, originally called Domaine du Moulin was founded by his Grandparents and taken over by him in 1995. While initially farmed conventionally, he found that wines that were really speaking to him were natural wines. Simultaneously he developed an allergy to sulfur. He has since completely transformed the estate to organic agriculture.
He had a few things up his sleeve this evening, bringing a couple of bottles not on the list (always a special treat for wine geeks). Desiré 2014, old vine 100% Pinot Noir is named for his Grandfather and truly special. This was elegant and sophisticated with hints of pepper and luscious yet lean fruit. Floral notes of violets. Olive. Finesse. I loved this one. While not presently carried here, perhaps in the near future?
Les Acacias 2014 is made from Romorantin, a grape unique to Cour-Cheverny in the Loire. Equally distinctive and illusive was the wine itself. Subtle saline on the nose with quiet eruption of lime citrus in the mouth. An enigma. And with more time I am certain more fully evolved in the glass. This wine comes from 2 parcels in the same vineyard, a 60 yr old and 30 yr old vinefied together. Free run juice. Ferments in open barrels. Aged in Acacia barrels. AOC Cour-Cheverny. Lovely!
|Christine & Herve' Villemade w/Ned Swain (Devenish Wines)
|Eric Texier at Drifters Wife, Portland
Residing in Lyon, Eric Texier works with vineyards in the northern Rhone region. After working with vigneron Jean-Marie Guffens at Verget in Burgundy, he eventually found his way to the unique terroirs of Brézème and Saint Julien. Wine from these appellations is also very rare, with 5 producers in Brézème and 2 in Saint Julien. "They are the terroir of farmers, proud of their rusticity and history". With regard to his initial leanings to Burgundy, he finds a parallel here in terms of its single varietals and parcel specific bottlings.
He works organically and biodynamically, following the lunar calendar and experimenting with planting other types of plants between rows of vines, along with zero intervention to soil or vines.
Two beautiful and distinct expressions of Syrah are the St-Julien en St-Alban 2013 and Brézème 2013. The St-Julien en St-Alban had warm, sweet, earthy fruit on the nose and soft on the tongue. Essences of spice and earthy moss. Lovely. Feminine. As Eric says, fine for sipping. The Brézème was his favorite. I found it edgier with more structured fruit. Strong, rustic presence. It longs to be enjoyed with food! You'll find plenty of fine pairings at Drifters Wife.