Aurélien Revillot Bourgueil Les Aubuis 2015
My first visit to Aurélien Revillot is one that will linger in my memory for many years, hopefully until the day I shuffle off this mortal coil. It was a particular set of circumstances, and the predicament we landed in, as much as Aurélien’s evident determination and the quality of his wines, that made it so memorable.
It was back in January 2017 that I first knocked on Aurélien’s door. I had just bought my little house south of Chinon, the notaire having – after three months of circular legal arguments – finally signed over the property on December 31st, 2016. January was the first time I crossed the threshold as owner and resident, and it was during this stay, as I shielded myself from the intense cold with woolly hat, fleece jacket and thermal long-johns (and this was all when in bed) that I realised I needed to install some heating.
While considering my chauffage options I was also determined to make a couple of visits. Aurélien Revillot was on my hit-list at the time, and I agreed to meet him one day, at a time of his choosing. Due to family commitments, Aurélien chose late afternoon, and so when I arrived in Bourgueil it was already dusk, and by the time I had located his house and we had set off to look at his vines night had fallen. It was not really conducive to taking any photographs of his vineyards, although as it turned out the battery in my camera was completely flat. Fortunately, I was able to take a few smartphone-snaps, but my inner voice wasted no time in admonishing me for my lack of preparation.
Undaunted we set about exploring several of Aurélien’s parcels of vines in his little white camion. It was when travelling off-road, at the foot of one of his parcels, that the wheels began to spin. It had rained earlier in the day, turning the track we had taken into muddy lake which glistened with malevolence in the moonlight. In the blink of an eye we were stranded, the tyres unable to gain any useful purchase. As Aurélien dabbed the accelerator the wheels span, but all the vehicle seemed to do in response was slide to the left, then to the right, then to the left again. Aurélien and I looked at one another and with no need for words we both knew what came next.
The only solution was to get out to push; alighting, our feet slipped and slid across the slick surface as much as the tires, and I began to wonder if we would ever escape. Fortunately I was wearing some sturdy boots, but at this point I realised Aurélien had embarked on this moonlit tour wearing only a pair of wool-lined house slippers. By the time we had escaped certain death in a muddy grave (I might be exaggerating a little) his slippers had been replaced by two giant cakes of mud.
On reflection, perhaps I wasn’t the only person in that van who had been ill-prepared.
One of the vineyards that we rally-crossed through that night was Aubuis, a 0.6-hectare parcel blessed with soils of clay over seams of yellow and white limestone derived from the Upper and Middle Turonian. The name of the parcel tells us as much; aubuis refers to a soil of mixed clay and limestone, the latter usually derived from the tuffeau jaune of the Upper Turonian. It is a soil type highly regarded for Chenin Blanc, particularly in Vouvray, where there are at least two domaines which carry its name, Domaine des Aubuis run by Daniel Morier in Chançay, and Domaine des Aubuisières run by Charles Lesaffre in Vouvray itself, not to mention any number of cuvées from other vignerons which also reference this soil.
Here in Bourgueil the parcel is naturally planted to Cabernet Franc, which Aurélien Revillot picks by hand. In this vintage it was 100% destemmed and vinified in older barrels, with between four and five weeks of maceration. It remained in barrel for about six months, followed by a similar period of time in cement cuve, before bottling. Aurélien avoided the use of sulphites during the fermentation, but did make at least one addition later on prior to bottling.
In the glass the 2015 Bourgueil Les Aubuis from Aurélien Revillot displays a vibrant, cherry-claret hue. This is followed by a very attractive nose, with a sense of purity and life to it, opening with a little cherry leaf at first, but then darker notes of black cherry skins, crushed gravel, talc, and a touch of coffee bean. It really needs an hour or so, in a carafe, to open up. It communicates a sense of savoury tautness rather than anything too generous, and this is the case on the palate which starts in a rather modest fashion, initially spicy and peppery, medium-bodied through the middle, with a silky upper layer, and a lightly chalky grain beneath, before a finish of peppery grip once again. Cool and restrained, lightly grained, warming and long, but classically styled, this is enticing now, although it certainly has the necessary substance to develop further for a few years yet. The alcohol declared on the label is 13.5%. 92/100 (10/10/22)
Read more in:
- My detailed profile of Aurélien Revillot
- My report on the Loire 2015 vintage
- My guide to Cabernet Franc