Although we often talk about the crucial role played by the viticulture of monks, more than a thousand years ago, for a first effective zonation of Burgundy, we forget to reflect on the fact that their “specialization” helped to develop viticulture in all the areas in which they stayed, also because of the fact that the Holy Mass needs both bread and wine to be celebrated. The case of La Coulée de Serrant in the Loire, for example, is not very different since it is a vineyard created by Cistercian monks in 1130, and remained so until today, to which is merged an old and small monastery. It must be said that the monks knew how to choose land of incredible quality (King Louis XI himself called it “the drop of gold”) and, in this case, also of rare beauty, since from alley of the “cemetery of the English”, included in the property, you can admire the vineyard and the entire undelying Loire valley.
Such a legendary, mystical and dedicated place could not leave indifferent the current owner Nicolas Joly, a man who precisely in this vineyard has theorized and put into effect for the first time some of the most important principles of biodynamic viticulture. Among the numerous and detailed characteristics of the adopted regulation, it is enough to remember that in the vineyard the compost is produced by cows and bulls of the own herd, that is favoured the development of other plant species, to counter the negative effects on the soil of the unique culture, that the work of tractors is carried out by the lightest horses, and that in winter the sheep are allowed to burn in the interleave, converting those herbs into manure. Even in the cellar, after the harvest carried out at prolonged maturation, with the grapes affected by botrytis, the concept of naturalness is pushed to the extreme consequence: no decantation, no passage to controlled temperature or, worse, cold, no industrial yeast, no collagen, very little new wood and numerous decanting that favor the wine oxygenation. If today all these practices are known, it should be noted that La Culée de Serrant, having chosen to use them all (and all together) since 1984, has become since the 90s, also thanks to the undisputed level of its wines, the reference point for biodynamic and natural winegrowers. Nicolas Joly has also personally contributed to this with an incessant work of spreading the principles of biodynamics, in numerous conferences held around the world.
But going back to the wines, today the winery produces three: Les Vieux Clos, from the younger vines, Le Clos de la Bergerie, from those of intermediate age (about 25 years), and the Clos de La Coulée de Serrant, from the older ones (40 years with some specimens of 80). This last, which has become, over time, an iconic, legendary wine, the summa of the Joly-thought, is born from seven hectares planted with a density ranging from 4800 to 6700 Chenin Blanc vines per hectare, on schistose soils rich in quartz, with a yield between 20 and 25 hectoliters, always per hectare (not more than half a kilo of grapes per plant). After the listed above vinification steps, the wine ages for 6-8 months in wood (new to 5%) and then is filtered in a very light way and bottled with an imperceptible addition of sulphites, before being put on the market.
The 2011 vintage has an intense golden color, with an olfactory range that opens on notes of dried apricot, peach in syrup, candied orange and saffron, followed by essential oil of citron, dried white flowers, aromatic herbs and wildflower honey, with final echoes of eucalyptus, chalky and iodine. The palate is a true horse of breed, with the balsamic freshness that alternates with the glyceric softness, enriched by a hint of white pepper; all while returning the ripe white fruit and iodine that accompany the sip until a good length closure.
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