The lowlight in a year of global lowlights was, for CellarHand, the news that Loire vigneron Frédéric Mabileau was killed in a light aircraft crash on the eve of vintage 2020.
A standard-bearer for Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and surrounds, Frédéric had taken on family vineyards and turned his biodynamically farmed domaine into something truly special. The soulful wines have a heartbeat to them, conveying a love of life and land. He is sorely missed.
He is survived by wife Nathalie and sons Charly and Rémy, who pulled together with winemaker mentors and friends to pull off a harvest that Frédéric would have been proud of.
It’s an emotional moment for us, receiving this latest set of wines that has seen us delve deeper into the wonders of the estate. We have fizz, white, rosé and red, including three wines from this latest vintage plus previous harvests that Frédéric had overseen.
A particular mention goes to the carbonic-maceration Cab Franc named Fred, in homage to the late, great man himself.
Frédéric Mabileau Orgasmic Pétillant Naturel – or Pét Nath, more correctly, since it’s named in honour of Nathalie Mabileau – is 100% Chenin Blanc from a 0.53-hectare plot of sand and gravel over a layer of white clay. The 13-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.
Frédéric Mabileau Les Rouillères Chenin Blanc is grown ona 0.53-hectare plot of sand and gravel over a layer of white clay. The 13-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.
Frédéric Mabileau Jose Rosé is dry Cabernet Franc from Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil in the Loire Valley. The organic-grown, biodynamic-certified fruit grows on a 1.5ha plot of sand and gravel. Vines are 40 years old on average and are planted at a density of 5,000 vines per hectare.
The handpicked bunches are destemmed and crushed with 24 hours on skins before spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel. The wine spends six months in tank and is racked twice before bottling with minimal sulphur.
The freshness of this rosé is accompanied by charming aromas of small red fruits. Its tender, mouthwatering side makes it even more sublime.
Frédéric Mabileau Fred is a carbonic-maceration expression of Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Cabernet Franc for a thirst-quenching style. Beautiful whole bunches are gently vinified in this tribute cuvée to Frédéric.
The organic-grown, biodynamic-certified fruit grows on a 1.5ha plot of sand and gravel. Vines are 40 years old on average and are planted at a density of 5,000 vines per hectare.
The carefully selected handpicked bunches are carefully sorted before spontaneous fermentation with carbonic maceration in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks, where the wine spends six months. Racked twice before bottling with minimal sulphur.
Frédéric Mabileau ‘Les Rouillères’ Cabernet Franc is 100% biodynamic-certified Cabernet Franc from Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil.
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 47-year-old vines on a two-hectare plot on clayey mud and sandstone with gravel. Hand harvested with a yield of 35hl/ha, then destemmed and sorted on a table. Given a four-day pre-ferment cold soak before fermentation in 70-hectolitre Tronçais oak fermenter. Malolactic conversion and maturation for 18 months in 3- and 4-year-old French oak demi-muids.
The 2017 has deep spicy and smoky notes. The dominance of ripe fruits is combined with the cocoa aromas thanks to the aging in oak. This is a generous wine with soft tannins which expresses the terroir clearly.
Frédéric Mabileau Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% organic-certified Cabernet Sauvignon from a two-hectare vineyard on sandstone in Anjou. The vines are 20 years old on average, planted at a density of 5,000 per hectare.
The handpicked grapes are destemmed and spontaneously fermented in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks, where this wine is matured before bottling with minimal sulphur.