Domaine de la Roche Bleue
Originally hailing from Sancerre, Sebastien Cornille started his domaine in 2008 with a couple of remote vineyards in Jasnières (itself an outskirt and the northernmost limit of Chenin-growing), which by now he has grown into a 6,5 ha operation with holdings in Jasnières and Coteaux-du-Loir. These sloped vineyards – mostly on argilo-silex over limestone soils – are all worked manually and solely by Sebastien himself (certified organic, biodynamic in practice). Work in the cellar is carried out without additives except for minimal amounts of sulphur, with long natural fermentations and elevage (part tank/part old barrels) deep inside icy tuffeau caves.
Man were we impressed, during a wintry visit to the Loire, by Sebastien’s humble determination and his beautifully chiseled wines! Bracingly acidic, subtly kaleidoscopic Chenins refracting a thousand nuances of white flower, apple, honey, wax, butter and chalk. Laser-focused, mega-crunchy old vine Pineau d’Aunis, sometimes blended with Gamay and Cabernet, full of momentum and restrained white-peppery funk. All delicious now but built for the long haul. These may not be the most charismatic looking bottles in town, but what’s inside them is some of the most promising wine on our shelves. Definitely not for everyone, but any acid-head with a taste for nuanced and contemplative wines that walks past them is missing out big time.