Clau de Nell

Loire, loire France

The vineyards at Clau de Nell have been cultivated biodynamically since 2000. A period of financial difficulty led the previous proprietors to seek help from the late Anne-Claude Leflaive and her husband, Christian Jacques. In 2008, the Leflaive-Jacques family purchased Clau de Nell, which at the time had not produced any wine for three years. Since then, Clau de Nell has enjoyed a successful revival with ex-sommelier Sylvain Potin making the wine and Christian running the domaine.

The domaine is situated in Anjou and is comprised of eight hectares of red varieties planted on a south-facing knoll at 90 metres altitude. The vines range in age from 30 to 90 years old and are low yielding (on average 25 hectolitres per hectare). There are five hectares of Cabernet Franc, two hectares of the native Grolleau, one hectare of Cabernet Sauvignon and 1.5 hectares of Chenin Blanc.

All the grapes are hand-harvested and 100% de-stemmed. Fermentation is carried out using indigenous yeasts in oak barrels with gentle punch downs. The Chenin Blanc is fermented in five-year old barriques, where it ages for 12 months and then spends a further six months in tank before bottling. It has notes of acacia honey and green apples. Its excellent structure means it will continue to develop well in bottle. The reds are aged for 18 months in old barrels purchased from Domaine Leflaive. Clau de Nell's Cabernet Franc is forward with berry fruit, floral spice, fine tannins and fresh acidity. The 'Cuvée Violette' is a blend of 70% Cabernet Franc and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. It has more structure with dark fruits and firm tannins and demands food. The Grolleau is crisp and fragrant with blueberry and blackberry aromas. It has a bright acidity with a lingering attractive spice on the finish. The wines are bottled without fining or filtration on fruit days, according to the biodynamic calendar. Minimal sulphur dioxide is used because Sylvain says he likes his wine to taste clean and "like wine".

 

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