2019 Nicolas Réau 'Attention Chenin Méchant'
Region: Anjou < Loire Valley < France
Grapes: Chenin Blanc
Vineyard/cellar stats: Organic farming; clay and limestone soils; fermentation starts in stainless steel and finished in used oak barrel and aged for 6 months, light filtration (vegan), no fining; no added So2; zero-zero; 11.5% ABV
Winemaker: Nicolas Réau
The Loire Valley is the epicenter of France's natural wine movement, and Nicolas Réau is a core member of this forward-thinking crew. Interning at his grandfather's farm growing up, he learned the art of agriculture from an early age, acquiring along the way a curiosity about wine, perhaps from his grandpa's tendency to sneak small glasses of red wine to his grandson when grandma wasn't looking. Despite this early exposure to wine, Nicolas didn't immediately pursue winemaking -- first, he was a pianist. In 1998 he pivoted, attending oenology school and taking over the family's 28 ha. estate, which he quickly converted to organic farming with biodynamic techniques.
Chenin Blanc is a grape that can produce a multitude of expressions, because it is an excellent conduit for terroir -- when you don't f^*k with it, Chenin can reflect its soil, vintage and place more so than most grapes. Some of the best Chenins hail from the Loire, thanks the meandering Loire river and the unique microclimate and soils it creates. We put this pretty'Attention Chenin Méchant' (a play on the ubiquitous French 'Beware of Dog' sign) in the Best In Class camp. She's classic Chenin: fresh and floral on the nose, zesty citrus, ripe nectarine, waxy texture, bright acidity, finishing on a rocky, mineral, saline note. Such a pretty food wine, but also fantastic on its own.