One of the most compelling whites we have had this year, hands down.
Loire whites. there's a ton of them out there. For legends, we look at names like Huet in Vouvray, Clos Rougeard in Saumur, Cotat, Vatan and Dageneau in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume. Well, let us introduce you to the new kid on the block....
Olivier Lejeune of Anjou. A name that came on our radar this year. A young, slender, and somewhat un-loire like looking dude. Which makes sense, as he has spent some time away from his homeland working in Asia, and then over the past decade honing his craft in New Zealand at the University of Auckland's wine school and then later at the iconic Felton Road winery where he obviously learned how to conjure up the greatness of Sauvignon Blanc.
in 2017, Olivier returned back to his home in Anjou with his wife and child, one of the appellations of the Loire Valley where Chenin reigns supreme and the soils are rich with life. He met with the famous Mark Angeli from the Ferme de la Sansonnière, a stellar biodynamic producer in the iconic Louis/Dressner portfolio. It was under Angeli's guidance that Olivier was able to secure and rehabilitate vines in Anjou and be guided through the process of biodynamics and the low-intervention style of winemaking that has become so prominent in the Loire Valley. Olivier didn't just get any vines, he secured parcels on the slopes of Montbenault, right next to the plot of famed winemaker Richard Leroy in the Coteaux du Layon Faye de Anjou. These are rich soils, full of volcanic and igneous, ocean rocks--superb for Chenin vines.
The only wine I have had from Olivier is this Chenin Blanc. On first nose, it's wild, exotic, powerful, with rich notes of yellow citrus, tropical fruit, all that wonderful Chenin character. But it also takes on the extremity of a Sauvignon Blanc. Pronounced, sharp, mineral edges on the nose, with the boldness of New Zealand--gooseberry and those classic peppery-cat-pee notes, or pyrazines as we like to call them. This is a good incorporation of pyrazines though, not the nasty bell pepper pyrazines you get severely underripe fruit. The use of them in this instance clearly shows a skill taken from his time in New Zealand. Don't let that latter note scare you, it's really wonderful! The palate is dense and rich, complex and clearly showing it's brute force and density that Chenin does so well, but an electric acidity really brings everything together. It's a dazzling wine that can really overload the senses!
So, enjoy this Sunday offer, with the weather warming but still on the cool side in many places, this is the perfect "Spring white" to jump into! We are glad we can bring this unknown winemaker and amazing Chenin to your attention today!