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Domaine de la Chevalerie Bourgueil Galichets 2011

Domaine de la Chevalerie Bourgueil Galichets 2011

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"Vibrant ruby. Delicate aromas of black fruits, licorice and woodsmoke. Sweet and pleasantly dense, with ripe acidity underscoring the dark raspberry flavor. Builds nicely on the finish, which features supple, elegant tannins. This cabernet franc is not showing swagger, but balance. As such, it is wonderfully drinkable. That said, it may well age better than the 2010 version. 89 points

I spent a lovely afternoon here with Pierre Caslot on my most recent trip to the Loire. He has theoretically been retired for two years, but received me that day because his children, Emmanuel and Stéphanie, who run the family property today, were busy with the harvest.

It is a magnificent property, a single block of 38 hectares of biodynamically farmed vineyards that rises slowly above the Loire and engulfs the winery before giving way to the forests. Below is an enormous cellar that was once the local quarry for the limestone blocks used to build the nearby village of Restigné and its famous Catholic church, Saint Martin, which was classified as a national monument in 1908.

In spite of the southerly slopes, it is cooler here and the harvest is generally late. Nonetheless, or perhaps for that reason, the wines seldom have more than 12.5% alcohol, which for me is a virtue. I was surprised during my visit to see that they actually have two sorting tables, with Stéphanie leading a team of five women at the end of the second one, going through the fruit berry by berry. Light and elegant, the resulting cabernet francs have a purity that makes them a pleasure to drink even in their youth. “We use 500-liter puncheons but little new wood,” Pierre told me, “because we don’t want the oak to mask the wines.”

My only surprise was to see how the family divides the property into four sites that are nonetheless all very similar, so that I sometimes felt that the age of the vineyard or yield in a given year played more of a role in the flavor profile of the resulting wine than soil or microclimate. That said, this is an estate and style of wine that I like. You can drink everything here. You’ll never be disappointed."

Joel Payne, Vinous (12/14)