The Wine: Malolactix Rouge 2018
Le Sot de l'Ange Malolactix Rouge is a blend of Gamay and Grolleau done in tank with no sulfur added. Bright, crunchy, and juicy. Quentin Bourse is one of the most talented winemakers in the Loire Valley and Malolactix Rouge is another gem from his repertoire.
The Producer: Le Sot de l'Ange
From Selection Massale's Website
Show me a fanatic and I’ll show you a success. Truer words could not be said about Quentin Bourse – the “Idiot Angel” of Azay-Le-Rideau. While this is the rough translation of the name of his label, Le Sot de L’Ange, he is a far cry from anything remotely resembling an idiot.
Before taking over a friend’s estate just in time for the 2013 vintage, Quentin worked in various fields (wine related and not) including numerous internships in the surrounding area, with both natural and conventional producers, notably a six-month stage at the famed Vouvray producer, Domaine Huet. These experiences have shaped his winemaking philosophy; his relentless work ethic, innovation, and borderline obsessive perfectionism result in meticulously crafted, serious wines.
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.
his 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.
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.