With the LEVIN vendadge now finished, our grapes having been carefully picked and fermenting, it is time to reflect on a pleasing Vintage 2015.
At the beginning of the growing season, inclement weather at flowering resulted in lower fruit set, followed by very low rainfall for three months. This meant fewer bunches of smaller, more intense and aromatic grapes.
The drier and slightly warmer conditions that followed brought vintage forward by two weeks. The earlier vintage, combined with the quality and size of grapes and healthy vigour and fertility, all resulted in a faster fermentation, which had the effect of preserving the aromatic profiles and delivering lovely balanced acidity and increased minerality.
We very much look forward to introducing the 2015 wines, when they have reached maturity, of course!
Cubitt House Guests at La Demeure de Bezard
Alongside the harvest, Vintage is also a wonderful time for us to welcome our supporters and friends to the Loire Valley for a hands-on vintage experience. We hosted our visitors at the amazing gîte, La Demeure de Bezard in Monthou-sur-Cher. Bezard is on the site of 6th Century monastery, nestled in a wooded valley, next to the middle ages-built fortress and renaissance château, Gué-Péan.
At the end of September, we welcomed a fabulous team from Cubitt House Group for a three day visit. Nadine, Sara, Valerie, Mo, Sam, Aniello and Hannah began the visit with a tour of our Oisly (pronounced ‘Wally’) organic vineyards and Clos Rosier (our cherished, home block vineyard) – where the much loved Cubitt Sauvignon Blanc is grown, which LEVIN Wines produces especially for The Orange, The Grazing Goat, The Alfred Tennyson and The Thomas Cubitt, in London.
At the winery, we talked about how we produce our premium cuvée, Mr L Sauvignon Blanc, as well as LEVIN Wines history and organic and biodynamic philosophy and practices. We then all sat down to a traditional vigneron’s lunch with the LEVIN team, Bernard, Denis and Adrien.
This included a vertical tasting of LEVIN Rosé from 2009, 2010 and 2011, with local charcuterie specialties Pork Rillettes, rustic Terrine of Rabbit and Duck Foie Gras. Aniello wowed us with his service skills: carrying 18 glasses at a time and six plates in one hand! This was followed by a delectable Apple Flan, from our local patisserie, with Crème Fraiche and LEVIN Noble Botrytis Sauvignon Blanc.
The wine experience was continued after lunch, with a tasting of the free run grape juice for our premium cuvée Gamay. Then we presented a simple Sauvignon Blanc parcel blending exercise, with samples drawn from several of our 19 vineyards sites. The clever Cubitt team declared their favourite to be from our beloved Choussy vineyard, where our finest grapes for premium cuvée Mr L Sauvignon Blanc are grown.
We took the Cubitts to visit to the gorgeous château Gué-Péan where they had the chance to meet the local chevaux, followed by dinner of roasted local Organic Black Leg Chicken, Pommes Dauphenois, French salad and baked quince flan for dessert.
We presented a vertical tasting of LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc: 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012, as well as a horizontal tasting of the 2011 vintage: 2011 LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc (unoaked), 2011 Mr L Sauvignon Blanc (oaked) 2011 LEVIN Noble Sauvignon Blanc (botrytis).
We also took time to enjoy the amazing autumn sunsets and explore the wonderful tranquillity of the secluded forest. We were sad to see Nadine, Sara, Valerie, Mo, Sam, Aniello and Hannah go, but bid them farewell as they set out to visit to the most beautiful château in the Loire, spanning the River Cher – Château de Chenonceau. (Sam, we’re eager to see you in your movie, coming soon to cinemas!)
Our Australian Visitors to the winery
It was so lovely to welcome our Australian visitors, Brendan Vivien and Miranda from Melbourne and their friends Barbara and Nick from England to Domaine Levin, even though an electrical outage triggered our security alarm system, giving a rather noisy welcome. Our Levin Sauvignon Blanc, Madame L Gamay and Mr L Sauvignon Blanc were greatly enjoyed, with Brendan and Vivien already seeking them out in Melbourne and Barbara and Nick, in London.
We joined our friends for a vintage celebration and were treated to a most fabulous lunch at Château Roches. We enjoyed local specialities including a beautifully prepared Loire River fish, with crumbed Mussels and freshly-picked Girolle mushrooms, with spinach.
Our Scottish guests from L’Art du Vin
Our next vintage visitors were our wonderful Scottish friends at L’Art du Vin. Our very successful Scot agent, Richard Bouglet brought with him Craig, Ed, Andrew, Fred, Alex and Lewis, a group of the most passionate restauranteurs, chefs and sommeliers from Scotland and Northern England.
By then, the weather had become more autumnal, although it did not prevent our tour of our Oisly vineyard, and presenting a comparison of organic and non-organic vineyards. We were able to show the group the great texture and structure of the soil, and ‘sweet’ earthy smell of the terroir on our organic vineyard, in stark contrast to the hard, compacted and lifeless non-organic vineyard. (Remarkably, the leaves on the organic vines remain for weeks after they have turned and dropped from non-organic vines!) It was a great opportunity for Richard to show first hand his passion and knowledge of organic viticulture.
Of course, we made a visit to château Gué-Péan for a photo opportunity, before getting down to some serious tasting of the newly pressed grape juice. We again enjoyed a stunning response to the longevity of our Sauvignon Blancs, from the 2006 through to 2012 in bottle.
We also tasted the 2014 Le Vin de LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc en magnum, 2011 Mister L Sauvignon Blanc , 2010 and 2011 LEVIN Gamay and Madame L Gamay – and a surprise for all – 2009, 2010 and 2011 LEVIN Rose, served with gazpacho was a magnificent match.
We believe the 2015 vintage will be one of our best for Gamay (watch this space!). Our Choussy vineyard has delivered the Sauvignon of a generation, which we are so delighted will produce a superb 2015 Mr L Sauvignon Blanc – a fitting tribute to Mr L himself, in his 80th year.