Made from a base of chenin blanc from the 2015 and 2016 vintages, fortified with certified organic grape-based alcohol, and sweetened with certified organic cane sugar. Macerated with wormwood, hops, quinine, citrus, angelica root, plus many more, it is bright, floral, piney, and slightly honeyed on the nose, with the palate skewing more powerful and bitter with lifted acidity — no doubt coming from the chenin blanc base. It finishes long and piquant.
Quentin’s estate is certified biodynamic (which is quite rare in Azay-Le-Rideau) and has been for over ten years (even rarer still). His vines cover approximately twelve hectares, though it’s hard to keep up with him as he continuously seeks to expand. In July I was shown new plantings and acquisitions of vines on different parcels, with the classic, local varieties planted to capitalize on the clay and silica soils the region is famous for. In many parcels white silex stones litter the rows making it look as if the terroir is oozing from the earth. Quentin cuts no corners while working in the vines, doing everything by hand, usually without help, and limits copper sulfur sprayings to 500 grams a year: 75% less than commonly used by other producers in the area. 25 friends help harvest in multiple passes, berry by berry, ensuring that the grapes reach peak maturity.
This high level of thoughtfulness is equally apparent in the cellar, which, for the time being, he happily shares with Pascal Pibaleau – an old-school producer in the region. All of the grapes are painstakingly sorted four times before whole-cluster fermentation with indigenous yeasts in tank, and a slow, gentle pressing that in some cases lasts five or more hours. Aging occurs either entirely in tank, neutral barriques, or amphora depending on the cuvée, and zero SO2 is added during the winemaking process for the reds; a touch is added for the whites. The result is wines with soul, immediacy, and tension. I won’t mince words: Quentin is a man on a mission.