If there’s one word to describe the work of this talented young winemaker, it’s humility. He might be creating some of the most terroir-expressive wines to come out of the Loire, but when visiting him and speaking to him, the first thing you notice is an air of contemplation, and a certain gentleness.
It’s only when you try his wines that you realise this down-to-earth guy is creating something that is truly extraordinary. Yet, he doesn’t need a château or anything fancy to do so: all he needs is a garage, basic equipment, manpower and ideas; the latter of which he has in bucketloads.
People: Pierre Ménard
Place: Anjou, Loire, France
Varieties: Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Grolleau Noir, Grolleau Blanc
Wines: Click here
Did You Know? Pierre forages for some of the plants for his preparations from the vineyards and the surrounding land, such as horsetail (which works as an antifungal) and yarrow (which is said to enliven the soil), as well as oak bark from the trees. Oak bark, in particular, has proved very interesting for Pierre, who uses it when there is severe downy mildew pressure (without treatment, downy mildew has the potential to destroy a crop).
This is the homeland of Chenin Blanc, and in Pierre’s hands, the variety sings. He says,
“Chenin is a bit like Chardonnay, in the sense that it’s less aromatic. That means it leaves lots of room for the expression of terroir. I think that Chenin Blanc has this transparency when it comes to showing the place from which it comes. You really find a signature, which is so interesting. It also means there’s no limit when you’re searching for differing expressions.”
Because of this unique sense of transparency, Pierre keeps the winemaking as simple as possible, and makes all of the wines in the same way. That means he can ensure his own personal fingerprint doesn’t speak louder than the stamp of the soil. He uses barrels, tanks and amphorae for each cuvée, explaining,
“The goal is to not have a certain signature for one wine — I don’t want to make an ‘amphora’ wine, or a ‘barrel’ wine. So for each cuvée, I vinify in each type of vessel. That helps me to find the balance of each parcel, without giving the wine a specific style. I guess you could say that my style is no style.”
He is content with the balance between each vessel, saying,