Grape(s): Chardonnay and Tressalier
Localization: St. Pourcain, Loire Valley, France
Tasting Notes: The wine is very aromatic with notes of white flowers and pears. The palate has a wonderful round, almost creamy texture but with a lively acidity that keeps the wine refreshing.
Notes: Le Vin d'Alon is a blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Tressallier, a local variety also known as Sacy. The grapes are grown on 1.6 hectares of clay-limestone soils in the commune of Bransat.
The Domain: This little-known appellation in the middle of France, in Allier, is considered the Center Loire region, and thru the end of the 18th century was prized by nobles and Popes, who would bring the wines to Paris on the Allier River. Fashion changes and Burgundy became the love of the nobles, and this region reduced from its impressive 8000 hectares at the height of popularity to just 600 hectares now. While that history seems disappointing, what it means for savvy consumers, means that we can get Chardonnay of extremely high quality for a fraction of what we spend on white Burgundy. Denis Barbara works his vineyard of 8 hectares, aside from harvest, entirely on his own. He hand harvests, cultivates grass between the vineyard rows, farms organically, and his wines are fermented naturally with indigenous yeasts. This is true of many of my wines, but it is a good reminder of how hard these farmers and winemakers work. In addition to hard work, this man and his wife are gracious, gregarious, warm, and weird—I love them! This is a Chardonnay (70%) blended with Tressallier (30%), an obscure grape that once rivaled Chardonnay in popularity. The wine is fermented in stainless steel, so it is very lean and has a wonderful brightness that balances its abundant fruit. This is another one that makes me stop and think, as one sip is rich and the next cleansing, but that is the nature of a complex wine. It is ideal for some roasted whole fish and roasted fall vegetables.