Domaine Ogereau Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru
La Martinière 2015
Some time ago, during one of many tastings with Vincent and Emmanuel Ogereau I have had the good fortune (and good sense) to arrange over the years, I lamented the fact that the family had no vines in the Quarts de Chaume appellation. At the time they had vines in the famed Bonnes Blanches vineyard, one of the most revered lieux-dits in the Coteaux du Layon appellation, and I was familiar with this cuvée which was frequently superb. But I knew that just across the river were the vineyards of the region’s most famous sweet wine appellation, where many of Anjou’s best-known domaines, including Château Pierre-Bise, Domaine de la Bergerie and Domaine des Baumard were turning out exemplary wines.
I should not have been surprised to learn that Vincent felt the same way; he would also very much like to have some vines in Quarts de Chaume, he told me. The problem was two-fold; first, land in Quarts de Chaume is quite desirable (even in these days when we are told sweet wines are so unfashionable) and thus it doesn’t come cheap, or at least not as cheap as other Anjou vineyards. Second is the small matter of availability; this is a very finite appellation, with only a few dozen hectares eligible. Parcels simply don’t come up for sale all that often.
The next time I met up with Vincent, however, there was a definite twinkle in his eye. In late 2014 they sealed the deal on a parcel of vines in La Martinière including 0.87 hectares in the Quarts de Chaume appellation and 0.43 hectares in Chaume, the two contiguous parts acquired together from one of a number of owners of Château de Suronde (the rest of the vines, and the château, went to Kathleen van den Berghe of Château de Minière, and I think that is also a very positive development for the appellation). The Ogereau vines are rooted into schist and metagreywacke, along with the usual mineral and quartz complexities. It is a curious parcel, in that the vines run up and down the slope rather than along it, and while those at the top of each row on a steep part of the slope are eligible for the Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru appellation, those lower down the rows, on a flatter part of the slope, are only eligible for Chaume Premier Cru. Emmanuel (and presumably his pickers) has had to learn for each row which vines are in Quarts de Chaume and which are in Chaume. And just to complicate the issue further, this is only true of some of the rows; further along the slope is steeper with more plateau at the top, and on this section all the vines are eligible for Quarts de Chaume.
The fruit for the Domaine Ogereau Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru La Martinière is picked in tries, with just two passes required in this vintage in order to select the botrytised grapes at the right moment. After a slow press and a cold settling the juice is fermented in 400-litre and 500-litre barrels. The residual sugar here is 150 g/l. The 2015 vintage, their very first, catapults the Ogereau family right onto the top tier of the appellation, their years of experience working the Bonnes Blanches vines coming through here. Of note there is no popping of the cork, as the wine is sealed beneath a Vino-Lok closure. In the glass it has a rich orange-gold hue, and yet the nose is so pure and bright. Currently very youthful (I would not normally broach Quarts de Chaume so young, but curiosity got the better of me) it has vibrant fruit to the fore at the moment, especially orange confiture, brimming with the sweet scents of creamed apricots, laced with a powdered-quartz minerality, and a beautiful floral lift. Aromatically, this is quite brilliant, and it is the same on the shimmering and divinely balanced palate, which is filled with sweet apricot and orange fruits set against a nice acid freshness but also a fantastic minerality which completely defines the middle and finish. A wine of superb confidence but also tension, taut and pure, with stunning poise and minerally freshness, this is certainly one of the greatest young wines from this appellation I have ever tasted, and it is a very welcome addition to the array of wines coming out of the Quarts de Chaume vineyard. So hats off to the Ogereau family, and I look forward now to discovering subsequent vintages which I am sure will also find their way into my cellar. 97/100 (16/4/18)
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