Hervé Villemade’s 2019s: The Pure, Natural Energy of Cheverny
Hervé Villemade is a perfect microcosm of the movement towards organic farming and natural winemaking over the past 20 years. He took over his family’s farm and winery in 1995, and at first continued much the same as his father had with conventional farming and lab adjustment winemaking.
But after just a couple vintages he realized that the results he was getting were uninspiring. At the same time he encountered the wines of Marcel Lapierre and Thierry Puzelat, two godfathers of natural wine making, and was inspired! He started by eliminating the use of sulphur, but quickly realized that to do that successfully he needed much healthier, cleaner fruit.
So in 2000 he converted everything to organic farming (he is now certified) and continued learning how to make the most pure, transparent and delicious wines possible. Hervé’s vines are in Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny, in the heart of the Loire Valley. He farms all of the local grapes, including Romorantin, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay and Pinot Noir. At their best, and Herve’s are among the best, these are wines of joyous energy and freshness.
This is especially true with the 2019 vintage. After some very warm, and uncharacteristically ripe vintages, the ‘19’s are almost magically well balanced and clean. To be sure there is a bit more density than what was normal 20 years ago, but it is balanced with racy acidity and a lovely, earthy minerality. These are wines that you will want to have multiples on hand, because one bottle won’t be enough!
Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay come together in this surprisingly elegant white. Raised in steel tanks this is considerably more lively than many of its regional counterparts. The nose is herbaceous with citrus blossom and tangerine. Snappy green apple acidity rounds out to a finish of orange rind and nectarines. So versatile buth a perfect cheese wine if there ever was one.
Just like the white, the Cheverny Rouge is a whole lot of wine for the money. This is juicy and crunchy from the Gamay with Pinot Noir giving a silky texture and notes of fennel and black cherry. This vintage, the best we've had has a lovely earthy spice. Beautifully aromatic this all bright dark fruits through the lengthy finish.
100% Gamay from that Herve buys from a trusted organic sources is made into a wine that's meant to be chilled and chugged. The liter bottle and Cowploistation artwork give it all away. Spicey, mineral and crunchy, this is a little bit dangerous and a whole bunch of fun.