In 2013, longtime friends Nicolas Grosbois and Philippe Mesnier purchased 12 hectares of vines in Azay-le-Rideau, an excellent, though relatively unknown terroir a few kilometers east of Chinon. They immediately began farming all the vines organically, and set about on an ambitious project to reintroduce the wines of Azay-le-Rideau. Traditionally, Azay le Rideau is famous for white wines made from Chenin Blanc, and rosé wines made from Grolleau and Gamay.
Most of the vineyards are located in Azay-le-Rideau on the lieu-dit “Hauts Baigneux”. The domaine also owns a two hectare plot in Saché, close to the former studio of Alexander Calder, the famous American artist. This great flint-heavy terroir produces the two top cuvées of the domaine: Le Clos des Brancs and Blanc Chenin. In addition to resurrecting the tradition of great wines from these vineyards, the domaine produces excellent reds, and a small amount of white and rosé Petillant Naturel.
The wines of Domaine des Hauts Baigneux are all produced with natural yeast, and bottled with minimal intervention. The cuvées Les Chenes and Les Pentes are delicious vins de soif that showcase the best of Loire Valley. The sparkling wines are fantastic bottles of everyday bubbles, and the single vineyard Chenin Blancs are a testament to the towering quality of this terroir.
Nicolas Grosbois & Philippe Mesnier Grolleau 2016, Domaine des Hauts Baigneux, Vin de France, 12.5 Abv.
Rich, dark fruited, lifted and spicy with hints of incense, candle wax, pot pourri spice and exotic lavender and garrigue herbal notes. Palate is direct and crisp, crunchy and fresh with vibrant cranberry, raspberry and dark sour plum. Plenty of spicy, grippy, wet chalk complexity, this really is an energetic, intense expression offering very enjoyable drinkability. Zero added sulphur and only 600 bottles produced in this, the maiden vintage.
(Wine safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)