For all who don’t believe pet’ nat can be precise, complex, delicious, terroir-driven, age-worthy, just open a bottle of this cuvée! If I have to be precise though, the real name of this wine is Montlouis-sur-Loire Pétillant Originel AOC, as it falls under the first official French AOC for the style. This is the way for the Montlouis producers to showcase the quality of their production : mandatory hand-harvest, spontaneous fermentation, 9 months on tirage, disgorged, nothing added but a little SO2, the final wine must have less than 5 g of residual sugars, and a minimum of 2.4 bars of pressure. To make this cuvée, Damien is using specific plots in Montlouis. The grapes are hand-harvested, picked perfectly ripe (13.8% potential), sorted in the vineyard and the cellar, and pressed whole-cluster. When only 14 g or so of sugar are left, the wine is bottled, and aged a minimum of 18 months before being disgorged. Damien is trying more and more to expand the tirage, as the quality of the wine is getting better every year in order to gain complexity. 2018 is a dense, powerful version of Nouveau-Nez which will please lovers of Marguet or Lahaye Champagne. The nose is explosive on quince paste, marzipan, seringa, lemon-verbena, a mix of Chenin and autolytic notes. The palate is first broad and dense to become sleeker and saltier to finish with smoke and iodine. The bubbles are remarkably creamy and lingering. This wine could be cellared a year or so without problem. If you open it today, serve it in an all-purpose wine glass, not too cold, and enjoy it with roasted poultry, grilled rock fishes and soft-press cheese aged for 6 months or so. -Pascaline Lepeltier
La Grange Tiphaine was created at the end of the 19th century by Alfonse Delecheneau, followed by three generations: Adrien, Jackie and now, Damien. Damien studied oenology and viticulture in Bordeaux and worked at wineries in California and South Africa, and returned to the winery in 2002 to take over the operations there. He brings a level of scientific precision to natural winemaking that we haven’t seen in many others. The design of the winery and the steps he takes to ensure quality rival some of the most technically advanced wineries in the world, but this is all in the name of using as few additives as possible, to evoke their precious terroir in its purest sense.