FEATURED: Xavier Weisskopf's Killer Chenin, Negrette 2017
Welcome to a new weekly blog series! Here, we will take an even deeper dive into one of our favorite wine stories of the week. A shorter version of this story was featured in our newsletter just yesterday.
As always for the best source of free wine stories and our deepest discount, subscribe to our newsletter. Now, we've decided to extend some of our stories for the blog. So, you can look forward to Features on Thursdays. Whether you read yesterday's newsletter or not, this is not the post to skip.
Today's featured wine: Le Rocher Des Violettes (Xavier Weisskopf), Montlouis-sur-Loire Sec "La Negrette", 2017.
For some time, Montlouis stood firmly in the shadow of its larger, more illustrious neighbor, Vouvray. In fact, despite being from opposite sides of the Loire, in the early years of France's appellation system, the regions were often lumped together under the more famous "Vouvray" name.
This relative obscurity owes partly to its much smaller size, and somewhat cooler climate. (Frankly, until recent shifts in climate, adequate ripeness was not always a given in the Loire.) However the size and climate cannot be blamed, alone. In Vouvray there is a much greater chance for botrytis to develop – a crucial ingredient in sweet wines, which were fashionable for centuries.
This long-held perception has changed in recent years. Montlouis has stepped out from the shadows. Not unlike a younger sibling realizing that they are more adept at painting than basketball, and so they quit the team to buy brushes--Montlouis is no longer considered Vouvray-lite. Instead, it holds a well earned reputation as a formidable AOC with its own unique terroir (one known for producing slightly lighter, drier, more acid-driven expressions of Chenin) and its own formidible producers: François Chidaine and Taille Aux Loups, at the top of that list.
The brilliant wines coming from these addresses, each with their own house style, have rightfully earned their reputations as two of the finest Chenin producers in the world. But, there is also a third Montlouis producer deserving of broad recognition: Rocher des Violettes.
The domaine has not been around as long as those other two (Violettes began only in 2005), yet the quality of his wines has nearly risen to their level. In fact, with the 2017 Montlouis sec “Negrette”, winemaker Xavier Weisskopf is practically nipping at their heels.
Like all of Weisskopf's wines, Négrette is made and farmed organically. The soils for this cuvée consist of sand and clay over limestone, and the wine was aged in mostly neutral large (500L) barrels.
The aim here is terroir transparency.
Xavier sets out to highlight what many producers proved, over difficult decades: the reputation of Montlouis as individual and essential.
As you would expect from a wine made from 80 year-old vines, there’s density and complexity, and plenty of acid-driven tension—a common feature of the excellent 2017 Loire vintage. But it’s the sculpted, sinewy shape of the wine that shows Weisskopf’s masterful touch and makes Négrette so satisfying to drink.
The quality/price ratio here is fantastic and, while fabulous now, a wine like this would be a brilliant addition to the reasonable cellar. There is a full tasting note to follow.
Buy it here:
There is a subtle, attractive reduction and a muscular, mineral swirl on the nose. The nose continues with endearing traces of cream and pineapple. This translates on the palate, but with some thrilling dark berry fruits, too. Serious and long, with a very clear sense of place. Nicely structured and precise, without being overtly polished.
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Expect to see an exciting guide to Chenin Blanc over on our main blog very soon. We will update this post once it is live. Cheers!