The Wine: Le Vin de Jardin Grolleau 2021
La Grange aux Belles Le Vin de Jardin is a red natural wine made from 100% Grolleau farmed organically and biodynamically in Anjou, Loire Valley, France. Vinification: 10-day whole cluster fermentation in fiberglass. Bottled unfined, unfiltered.
The Producer: La Grange aux Belles
La Grange aux Belles is a cadre of friends making wine in Anjou, founded by Marc Houtin in 2004. Marc had worked internships all around France, and most notably at Chateau d'Yquem and was interested in making light, wines with short macerations, organically, with minimal intervention...everything we want in natural Loire wine.
Initially he was making wine for the cooperative in Brissac, but was always experimenting with different parcels, making wine that would eventually end up in this or that cuvée. This was, even more, the case when Julien Bresteau joined in 2008, a catastrophic vintage.
Rémi Fournier and Gérald Peau join the team and keep things afloat. Still, things needed to change, so they doubled down on their organic conversion and started following the methodology of the French geologist Yves Herody, which changed everything. Today they are still following these principles to incredible effect. They totally eschew all herbicides and pesticides in the vineyards, and vinifiy without any additives (with very few exceptions given many difficult vintages).
The Region: Loire Valley
The Loire Valley is a vast region located in western France. It stretches from the hills of Auvergne all the way to the Atlantic coast, cut in half by the Loire River. With over 4 million hectoliters of wine per year, the Loire Valley is one of France’s biggest and most diverse wine-producing regions. The Lore Valley’s production ranges from every-day quaffable and unpretentious wine to some of the country’s finest whites and reds.
The Terroir of the Loire Valley
Upper Loire sub-region: continental climate, soils are mostly flint and limestone formations. This is the land of Sauvignon Blanc, with Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé being the most famous appellations (AOC).
Touraine sub-region: continental climate, soils can be clay with flint or limestone, and chalk. Chenin Blanc is the main grape varietal for white wines, with Sauvignon Blanc coming in second. Red wines are made mostly from Cabernet Franc.
Anjou sub-region: maritime to continental climate, crumbly and soft soil formation called tuffeau. Anjou is well-known for its Chenin Blanc wines, mostly dry although there are good examples of sweet Chenin Blanc in Coteaux du Layon.
Saumur sub-region: continental to maritime climate, soils are made of tuffeau limestone in this similar to Anjou sub-region. Chenin Blanc is vinified as a sparkling wine with the champenoise method, Cabernet Franc is made into light and peppery wines.
Pays Nantais sub-region: maritime climate, the region stretches to the Atlantic Ocean. Soils are rocky with granite formations. Muscadet is the main grape varietal of this area, known for wines that are mineral, crisp, and refreshing.
The White Wines of Loire Valley
White wines represent the biggest share with about 65% of the total production. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Melon de Bourgogne, and Chenin Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne are the most popular grape varietals in the region.
The Red Wines of Loire Valley
Loire Valley reds are very distinct in terms of their style. Light and lean, lively and fruity, easy-drinking and food-friendly, they are some of the best everyday wines on the market. Some of the best examples of this style are made from Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, and Malbec.