Highlights from La Dive 2023
At the beginning of February, I spent a week in the Loire valley attending various wine fairs and visiting a couple of producers. It was a great opportunity to discover some winemakers that were new to me as well as taste some of the bigger names in natural wine whose bottles I had never had the chance to try before.
Here are some highlights;
We have been selling Gerald Oustric's wine for a few years now but I had never had the pleasure of meeting this natural wine legend. This changed at La Dive where he was showing some cuvées we already sell as well as a new Cinsault wine I had never seen before. One night in a restaurant in Angers, we managed to find a 2001 Chardonnay from the very early days of the Le Mazel domain. It was stunning and shows why Gerald's wines have such a strong reputation for ageing.
Currently we have in stock his easy drinking Vin De Soif 2021, his light and delicate Cuvée Raoul 2021 made from Carignan, Cuvée Briande 2018 made from 100% Grenache Noir and his deeper red made from Syrah, Cuvée Larmande 2018. For whites we have his rounded and complex Cuvée Les Leches 2021 and a very special bottle of aged Viognier, his Cuvée Mias 2004. We drank a bottle of this at Christmas and it blew us away. Only one bottle available for a lucky customer out there.
I tasted with Julian Altaber at Les Pénitentes in the famous appellation of Savennières. He and Carole Schwab run the Sextant negotiant project in Burgundy but also took over the incredible biodynamic Domaine Derain a few years ago. All of the wines were showing so well. Rich and round Chardonnays made with no added sulphur alongside delicate and complex Pinot Noir, also made with no additions. I managed to get my hands on some as soon as I got back to London so we now have in stock two whites, Chardonnay Saint Aubain 2020, Saint Aubin 1er Cru - Sur Le Sentier du Clou 2018 and one red Le Ban 2020. All tasting amazing right now but will age very well also.
Clos du Tue-Boeuf
Despite the fact that Thierry Puzelat is one of the biggest names in the Loire valley when it comes to natural wine, I hadn't tasted too many of his bottles. His daughters Zoe and Louise have now taken over the winery and they were showing wines also at Les Pénitentes (which Thierry helps organise). I was struck but the purity of everything I tasted and also the amazing value on the negotiant side. We now have in stock Cheverny La Gravotte Blanc 2020, a perfectly balanced white wine made from Sauvignon Gris and Chardonnay. Also 2 of the negotiant wines, a nouveau style Sauvignon Blanc, Vin Nouveau 2022 and Vin Rouge 2021 made from Gamay and Carignan.
I had just had dinner with Roberto in London a few days before so it was great to bump into him again at Les Pénitentes. He had made the trip all the way from Chile to show his wines in the region where he spent time training before starting his own project back in his home country. We recently received his Pais Franco 2021, made from 200 year old vines on volcanic soils as well as his skin contact Torontel Super Estrella 2021 and one magnum of his Corinto Super Estrella 2020. If you've never tasted these unique wines, now is your chance.
Over the course of the week there were too many good wines to mention but some other notable highlights were Jean-Pierre Rietsch, Domaine Mosse and Corentin Le Bolloch (Domaine P'Tit Chose / Domaine Autre Chose)