Château de l’Aulée, 2013 Update

I was delighted to encounter once again the sparkling wines of the ever-elegant Marielle Henrion at this year’s Loire Benchmark tasting, arranged and hosted by Charles Sydney. Having first encountered Marielle and her wines a year or two ago, I made a beeline for her at the subsequent Salon des Vins de Loire in order to check I hadn’t imagined the finely polished style she somehow manages to pull from her vines located near Azay-le-Rideau. I wasn’t disappointed; outside of Vouvray and Montlouis, the sources of the most exciting sparkling wines from the Loire in my opinion (I suppose many would suggest Saumur instead, but I think wines from the likes of Vincent Carême, François Chidaine, Philippe Foreau, Domaine Huet and Domaine de la Taille aux Loups wipe the floor with big-name Saumur), this little address near Azay-le-Rideau, at the mouth of the Indre Valley, has to be our next destination.

Château de l'Aulée

My profile of Château de l’Aulée gives detail on all the wines, which include sparkling wines under both the Crémant de Loire and Touraine appellations, as well as red wines under the Touraine Azay-le-Rideau and Chinon (from distant vines) appellations. Despite the presence of the latter appellations, the focus of the domaine is sparkling wines; the Azay-le-Rideau cuvées are essentially also-rans, and the Chinon vineyards were I believe acquired in order to secure a reliable source of good quality Cabernet Franc (Touraine Azay-le-Rideau allows only for white and rosé, the latter from Gamay and Grolleau). Of the two sparkling appellations, the Crémant de Loire cuvées are the most interesting, the fruit being hand-picked, the assemblage featuring Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc. The Touraine sparkling wines are Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay only, and the fruit is machine-harvested.

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