Domaine de la Chevalerie
Over the past decade or two the best Cabernet Franc producers in the Loire Valley have finally been given the attention and accolades they deserve. Names like Bernard Baudry, Charles Joguet, Pierre & Catherine Breton and Olga Raffault are now none globally and can be found on many of the world’s best wine lists. And of course there is Clos Rougeard.
For some reason the Domaine de la Chevalerie is not always mentioned in the same company, but it should be! The Caslot family has been living and working at the Domaine since 1640 and for many years they have produced among the very best wines in the Bourgueil appellation.
Pierre Caslot was the patriarch who set the tone of quality for decades until his passing in 2014. In the 1990’s he began to eliminate the use of pesticides and herbicides, and when his children Stephanie and Emmanuel joined the team a few years later they began converting everything to organic and biodynamic farming. They were certified organic in 2008, and biodynamic in 2012.
Pierre was also one of the first in his region to begin isolating individual vineyards and terroirs and bottling them separately. His attention to the soil and the land and his gentle, hands off approach in the cellar resulted in wines that were both elegant and structured. They were also extremely long lived. His children have kept up this focus on terroir, elegance and structure and the wines continue to be world class examples of Cabernet Franc.
We received a shipment of them a few weeks ago with some library releases from the excellent years of 2014 and 2015. Sadly, just a few days later we learned that Stephanie Caslot had lost her battle with cancer. She was the energetic and radiant face of the domaine, travelling tirelessly to promote her family’s wines. We hope to honor her memory by doing our part to get these wines into as many glasses as possible.
The vin de soif, or “bistro” wine from Chevalerie. Fermented and aged in concrete tanks for 4-6 months it is soft, supple and spicy, with enough crunchy acidity and chalky tannin to handle any classic French meal (steak frittes please!).
This parcel sits on sandy, stony soil with a bedrock of limestone. The oldest vines date to 1934. It is generally the most richly textured and deep fruited of their wines, but with plenty of structure to balance and add to its age-ability. This is especially true in blockbuster vintage like 2015.
The Breteche vineyard has a very thin layer of topsoil with a bit of clay, but more limestone than the other single parcels. This lends itself to a very elegant, precise and mineral variation of Cab Franc. One that also ages very well. 2014 was an excellent and super classic Loire vintage.