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Le Rocher des Violettes Touraine rouge Côt Vieilles Vignes, 2017

$21.00
Le Rocher des Violettes Touraine rouge Côt Vieilles Vignes, 2017

Le Rocher des Violettes Touraine rouge Côt Vieilles Vignes, 2017

$21.00
description

100% Malbec. Cot, with a silent "t," is the local name for Malbec. How it came to be grown in Touraine is a mystery, but it's been there for some time. François 1er, France's first king during the first half of the 1500's, is said to have favored Cot above all other wine. Xavier's wine comes from five acres divided into seven parcels, the youngest of which is more than 70 years old and the oldest of which was planted in 1891. He makes the wine with whole clusters, and raises it for roughly six months in older barrels. It is deep, dark, and dense, yet surprisingly elegant and floral. Production averages 450 cases.

Le Rocher des Violettes’ Xavier Weisskopf has had a remarkably precocious track record in the world of wine. He went to school in Chablis, where his passion for the vine took root and led him to the wine school in Beaune. After earning a degree in viticulture and enology, he went to work for the dynamic, hard-driving Louis Barruol at Château de Saint Cosme in Gigondas. He quickly became Louis’ chef du cave, and made four vintages there. Louis told me in no uncertain terms that Xavier was the best he’d ever had.

In January 2005, Xavier bought 22 acres of vines in the Saint Martin le Beau sector of Montlouis and an enormous, raw 15th century stone cellar—originally a quarry dug deep into the Loire’s chalk limestone bank in Amboise. Since that time he has increased his holdings of Le Rocher des Violettes to just under 40 acres of vines, with most being classified in AOP Montlouis while the rest are divided between Touraine (7.5 acres) and Vin de France (2.5 acres) appellations. The vines are scattered about in various parcels and were planted at different times, but the majority were put into the ground before WWII. There’s Chenin, followed by small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Grolleau for rosé, and Malbec (Cot).

Montlouis faces Vouvray across the broad Loire. These are Touraine’s two great white wine appellations, and both have plateaus where most of the vineyards grow high above the river. Montlouis has somewhat more sand and less clay in its soils and its wines, very generally, can consequently be fresher and straighter, requiring more time in bottle to round out. Vouvray’s advantage in clay favors botrytis, which can add any number of layers of fat to a wine.

The other thing about Montlouis is that it is roughly one-fifth the size of its illustrious neighbor, and until the AC laws created “Montlouis” in 1939 its wines were sold as Vouvray. Ever since, Montlouis has been overshadowed, but these days this underdog appellation has become a hotbed for Touraine’s leading young Turks (in part because of less expensive vineyards–which, post 2015, are no longer much less expensive than Vouvray’s vineyards). Enter Xavier.

He’s a quiet man who knows what he wants to do and how to go about it. He left the Rhône in favor of the Loire because of his love of Chenin. He converted to organic farming in 2009, and now plows his rows and doesn’t use herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers–he’s hardcore about organics. He prunes his younger vines for low yields of 30-35 hectoliters per hectare (the old vines give about 25 hl/ha), and harvests by hand. He favors 500-liter demi-muid barrels over steel tanks for the exchange of oxygen the wood permits, which is particularly useful for Chenin because its wine is prone to reduction. He’s careful to preserve fruit without letting oak intrude; he likes his wines to be fresh, mineral, and long and vertical rather than fat.

In 2014 Xavier moved to new digs in Dierre, next to Saint Martin le Beau in the southwest sector of Montlouis, to be next to his vines. He put in a new, gravity-operated cellar, burrowing into the chalk hillside to do so. He also revamped the house. Upon exposing a timber, he serendipitously discovered that a carpenter had written: Constructed in 1864, a good year for bread and wine! That quote has been transcribed onto the wall of one of his three daughters’ bedroom.

PAIR WITH ROAST CHICKEN, PORK CHOPS, THOUGHTFUL CONVERSATION