To call this release bittersweet would miss the mark by miles. Nothing can make up for the tragedy of losing vigneron Frédéric Mabileau so young and so suddenly. What this does represent is continuity… and that is some kind of solace.
Frédéric was killed aged 53 in a light aircraft accident in Saumur on the eve of harvest 2020. And harvest ensued. We have to reckon with the loss of a bright star of the Loire, but the fruits of his labour are here to bear witness to his brilliance and devotion to home. And, thankfully, Frédéric’s wife Nathalie and sons Charly and Rémy have honoured his legacy through vintage.
Frédéric was young and dynamic; full of life, adventure and promise. He was the leader of the Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil appellation, one its standout producers and a hugely well-liked member of the community. We’ve been honoured to import Frédéric’s wines these past few years, and with great pleasure welcomed Nathalie and son Rémy to Australia in February 2019, while Frédéric stayed home to oversee the renovation of the winery and cellar door.
In a short time, many Australians have come to love these organic-certified, biodynamically grown wines, and the flair and personality behind them. The family’s winegrowing history goes back to 1620. Inspired by his father Jean-Paul Mabileau, Frédéric kicked off his own project in 1988 when he planted his vines on a parcel called Rouillères, owned by Nathalie -a name now given to the estate’s entry level Anjou Chenin Blanc and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Cabernet Franc. When Jean-Paul retired in 2003, Frédéric and Nathalie combined two domaines into one. Frédéric immediately took stock of the vineyard holdings, embarking on a painstaking study of the terroirs before establishing his own range of wines. Today the family owns some 28 hectares across the Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Bourgueil, Saumur and Anjou appellations.
As we send our love and best wishes to Nathalie, Charly and Rémy and the Mabileau, we send news of these wines to you. We hope you’ll get a chance to enjoy Frédéric’s work, and be part of what we hope yet will be a bright future for this lovely family.
Chenin Blanc from a 0.53-hectare plot of sand and gravel over a layer of white clay. The 12-year-old, organic-certified, single guyot-trellised vines are harvested by hand, with a yield of 55hl/ha. The handpicked bunches are slowly pressed and the must fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts. This is a soft and pure pet-nat with extremely fine mousse and aromas of peach, apple and pear.
Chenin Blanc from a 0.53-hectare plot of sand and gravel over a layer of white clay. The 11-year-old, organic-certified, single guyot-trellised vines are harvested by hand, with a yield of 55hl/ha. The handpicked bunches are slowly pressed and the must fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts at low temperatures. This sees no oak, lees stirring or fining, for a wine of energy, tension and purity.
It was with les Rouillères that it all began, the St Nicolas cuvée par excellence: light, fruity and full of finesse. This wine epitomises everything that this unique terroir offers in terms of purity, freshness and pleasure. The fruit comes from organic-certified, biodynamically farmed vines with an average age of 40 years, planted on gravelly sand soils and hand-harvested at 43hl/ha. Fully destemmed and sorted on a table before a pre-ferment cold soak. Fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel, without pigeage but regularly pumped over. The wine spends eight months in stainless steel and is naturally cold stabilised. It’s racked twice prior to bottling.
The parcel is situated in the Bourgueil appellation, in Chouzé-sur-Loire, very close to the river. It was Frédéric’s grandfather who planted these vines more than 45 years ago in the “Champs Colesse” lieu-dit, and that’s why the wine is named “racines”, meaning “roots”. The fruit comes from 46-year-old vines on a two-hectare plot on clay and gravel. Hand harvested with a yield of 35hl/ha, then destemmed and sorted on a table. Given a pre-ferment cold soak before fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless steel, which entails 18 days on skins. Malolactic conversion and maturation for 18 months in 3- and 4-year old French oak demi-muids.
Richly structured, this dense wine has firm tannins as well as ripe black-currant fruits. A smoky, perfumed character shows well against the smooth texture. It is just now ready to drink, still fresh and structured.93 points. Roger Voss, Wine Enthusiast May 2019
Fragrant black fruit aromas, initially very seductive. Palate complete and harmonious, fresh, with dried currant and juniper berry, green peppercorn, crushed rocks and mint. Delicious, quite classic, shows substance and potential as well.92 points. Decanter Magazine June 2018