2015 Anne-Claude Leflaive - Clau de Nell Cabernet Franc, Anjou, Loire
Domaine Clau de Nell is located in the Loire Valley wine region of Anjou, southeast of Angers and northwest of Saumur, in the village of Ambillou-Château. The vines range in age from 30 to 90 years. The vineyard, situated on a south-facing knoll, consists of eight contiguous hectares (19.8 acres), of which five hectares (12.4 acres) are planted to Cabernet Franc, two hectares (4.9 acres) to Grolleau and one hectare (2.5 acres) to Cabernet Sauvignon. The soil is sandstone grit and red flint over tuffeau (the soft limestone of the region). The vineyard is on a slope at an altitude of just 90 meters (295 feet), 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean. From the top of the knoll, surrounded by open countryside, the Loire River can be glimpsed in the distance.
These vineyards have been biodynamically cultivated since 2000. Significant financial difficulties and a call for aid from the previous proprietors brought the property to Anne-Claude Leflaive’s attention. In 2006, Anne-Claude and her husband, Christian Jacques, of the absolutely iconic Burgundy house Domaine Leflaive, had created a company to help new biodynamic wine growers take advantage of their established commercial network. In order to assist the struggling venture, in 2008 they purchased the domaine, which had not produced any wine for three years due to lack of means. It was a moment of serendipity for the abandoned vineyards and the Leflaive-Jacques family, culminating with the arrival of Sylvain Potin, well-versed in biodynamic viticulture, to be their estate manager. Christian Jacques concludes that, “We have not chosen Clau de Nell, so much as Clau de Nell has chosen us!”