The Wine: Poil de Lievre Chenin 2020
Domaine Bobinet Poil de Lievre Chenin 2020 is a natural wine made from 100% Chenin Blanc grapes farmed sustainably in Saumur, Loire Valley, and made by Emeline Calvez and Sebastien Bobinet.
The Producer: Domaine Bobinet
The Domaine was formed in 2002 when Sebastien took over 1.8 hectares of vineyard and cellar from his maternal grandparents who had retired 15 years previously. The decision to work organically was imperative, especially under the influence of Olivier Cousin. Sebastien started off with 1.5 hectares of Cabernet Franc and 0.3 hectares of Chenin Blanc which he vinified in the Domaine’s historic cellar, carved in the tuffeau (limestone) of the Coteaux of Saumur. These wines, which are aged in barrels, gave birth to the first cuvées Amateus Bobi and Echalier. In 2007, his thirst for experimentation led him to meet Bernard Pontonnier “Ponpon” who introduced him to the process of carbonic maceration. Next came time to expand. In 2010, Sebastien took over a tenancy of 2 hectares of Cabernet Franc. He also wanted to vinify grape varieties other than Cabernet and Chenin and decided to buy some Pineau d’Aunis, Gamay, and Cot. Du Rififi a Beaulieu was born!
Sebastien grew up in and around wine. From the age of 7, he was helping his grandfather in the vineyard and cellar. Later, as a young adult, he worked in a wine lab. He then spent some time in the world of glass- making and it wasn’t until his early thirties that he came back to take over the family business. As the eighth generation of a family of winemakers, Sebastien had some stubbornness to contend with in order to introduce his way of doing things. But eventually, his hard work and determination won the family’s approval. For a while, he was happy tending his two hectares of vines but on turning 40, the desire to grow and diversify took hold of him. Meeting Emeline had also given him the strength and drive to undertake the new venture he’d been dreaming of.
Before making wine, Emeline was a professional dancer. After an injury, she was forced to find a new career path and chose the world of wine. She trained as a sommelière in the famous University of Suze-la-Rousse, finishing first in her group. With her diploma in hand, she came back to Paris to work in the wine shop La Quincave. It is here she discovered natural wine and the people who make it. After two years in the shop recommending these wines, she decided to go and meet the growers and their terroirs for a year-long wine trip around France. From pruning to bottling, she turned her hand to every job involved in the vineyard and the cellar. After this life-changing experience, she decided to make a career in the wine trade, planning to open a wine shop/bar in Paris. But meeting Sebastien changed the course of her life and, once again, she changed career and became a winemaker with him.
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 everyday 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.