A limited production run by the amazing Quentin Bourse. A vermouth to drink on its own, with enough ml to try a million styles. Freshly styled with more of an herb-dense background. We love it in a vermouth Spritz!
AOC: Touraine Azay le Rideau, Touraine, VDF
Varieties: Chenin, Grolleau, Gamay, Cot, Cabernet Sauvignon
Viticulture: Biodynamic (Demeter/AB France)
Size: 12 hectares
Production: 6,500 cases annually
Terroir: Clay over silica
Show me a fanatic and I’ll show you a success. Truer words could not be said about Quentin Bourse – the “Idiot Angel” of Azay-Le-Rideau. While this is the rough translation of the name of his label, Le Sot de L’Ange, he is a far cry from anything remotely resembling an idiot. Before taking over a friend’s estate just in time for the 2013 vintage, Quentin worked in various fields (wine related and not) including numerous internships in the surrounding area, with both natural and conventional producers, notably a six-month _stage_ at the famed Vouvray producer, Domaine Huet. These experiences have shaped his winemaking philosophy; his relentless work ethic, innovation, and borderline obsessive perfectionism result in meticulously crafted, serious wines.
Quentin’s estate is certified biodynamic (which is quite rare in Azay-Le-Rideau) and has been for over ten years (even rarer still). His vines cover approximately twelve hectares, though it’s hard to keep up with him as he continuously seeks to expand. In July I was shown new plantings and acquisitions of vines on different parcels, with the classic, local varieties planted to capitalize on the clay and silica soils the region is famous for. In many parcels white silex stones litter the rows making it look as if the _terroir_ is oozing from the earth. Quentin cuts no corners while working in the vines, doing everything by hand, usually without help, and limits copper sulfur sprayings to 500 grams a year: 75% less than commonly used by other producers in the area. 25 friends help harvest in multiple passes, berry by berry, ensuring that the grapes reach peak maturity.
This high level of thoughtfulness is equally apparent in the cellar, which, for the time being, he happily shares with Pascal Pibaleau – an old-school producer in the region. All of the grapes are painstakingly sorted four times before whole-cluster fermentation with indigenous yeasts in tank, and a slow, gentle pressing that in some cases lasts five or more hours. Aging occurs either entirely in tank, neutral _barriques_, or amphora depending on the cuvée, and zero SO2 is added during the winemaking process for the reds; a touch is added for the whites. The result is wines with soul, immediacy, and tension. I won’t mince words: Quentin is a man on a mission.