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Richard Leroy Les Noels de Montbenault Chenin, Loire, Vin de France 2017

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Leaving behind their life in Paris, Richard and Sophie purchased 2ha of vines (Les Noëls de Montbenault) back in 1996, initially with the idea of making botrytized, noble rot wines. 1996 and 1997 were successful but a rainy autumn in 1998 put paid to any chances of noble rot and Richard produced no wine at all. Tasting in the area, he noted that Mark Angéli had produced beautiful dry wines in 1998, and he began to think that making dry wines from this exceptional terroir was the only way to make a living on a regular basis. He made his last sweet wine in 2005 and has since concentrated on making two exceptional dry whites from his tiny 2.7ha.

Everything that Richard does is a result of hard-earned experience and starting from scratch, he had no pre-conceptions. He and Sophie are real wine lovers, tasting and drinking widely from all around the world, sharing with other growers, friends and customers alike, and looking to learn from everything they do and everyone they meet in their work.

Richard has always worked with micro levels of sulphur (10mg/l until 2010) but such is the density and structure in his wines that he decided to cut sulphur out altogether from 2011. Comparing his wine in barrels bought from new with the same wine in barrels bought second-hand – and impregnated with sulphur from previous uses – he noticed an extra level of purity and finesse in the wines aged in new barrels that convinced him this was the only viable option. He now ages all his wines in barrels bought new – which he keeps for up to 7-8 years – from tonneliers who can guarantee the neutrality of flavour and aromatics.

Richard's wines just get better and better to the point where he is recognised as one of the master vignerons of the Loire, creating even more demand for his wines.

The vines here are planted in soils developed over the eroded base of an ancient volcano on the plateau of a windy ridge of hills overlooking the river Layon. Harvested from only ripe grapes (any botrytised grapes were individually cut out) and fermented dry, the wine has a sumptuous concentration on the palate, with a hint of quince and a notable mineral (irony) flavour. Just 4,000 bottles produced in 2016 (and no Rouliers due to frost which ravaged lower lying vines). Rich but balanced and very long on the finish, this is an exceptional wine, it will just need some time in bottle to unwind. No sulphur at all from 2011. VLQ. For drinking now to 2026+.

This wine is limited to one bottle per private customers only.

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