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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It's Back, MENETOU SALON Domaine de Chatenoy

It's back after two years. This is a great summer wine from the Loire Valley.

Domaine de Chatenoy > Loire > France
MENETOU SALON

FOOD & WINE MAGAZINE: “Chatenoy is without peer”


An undiscovered source for excellent Sauvignon Blanc can be found in the appellation of Menetou-Salon whose sloping vineyards touch on those of Sancerre. Touring the vineyards with Pierre Clement, the young owner of the Domaine de Chatenoy, one learns that Menetou is 100% Kimmeridgian marl, unlike the varied soil types of Sancerre. The appellation has a strange, irregular elongated shape which follows this vein of soil type. The soil is clay, marne, layered with limestone. This ancient, ocean-bottom vineyard is full of crustacean fossils.

Members of the Clement family are recorded as winegrowers in 1560 but it wasn't until 1709 that they purchased the Domaine de Chatenoy. As president of the appellation, Pierre Clement is very proud of the success of Menetou Salon and of Domaine de Chatenoy. Menetou Salon is quite the rage in Paris restaurants now and he can’t supply enough, though his domaine has expanded from 12 hectares to 55 hectares in just 15 years. He produces 50,000 cases of wine a year, 2/3 of it white. He is responsible for 40% of the total production of Menetou Salon. His goal is for the wines of Menetou Salon to be recognized in their own right, not as a poor sibling of Sancerre. For that reason he has placed many restrictions on the planting of vineyards by outsiders.
With the quality of Clement’s wines, his goals may be achievable. Perhaps he can do for Menetou what Lucien Peyraud did for Bandol. Clement’s winemaking facility is impressive. It is completely state-of-the-art, which is necessary to make this quantity of high-quality wine. Winemaking here follows the philosophy of minimal handling and indigenous yeasts to produce very natural, expressive wines. After a cool fermentation, the wines are left on their fine lees, sometimes into the spring of the year following harvest. It is an approach which brings out the intensity of fruit and terroir which is at the heart of the potential of this fine vineyard.
And at the same time, he is always experimenting and pushing for changes in the AOC rules to improve the already high quality. When asked why he continues to push the margins, since his wines are already so good, he responds, “but if they can be just a little bit better, isn’t it worth it?”
Domaine de Chatenoy Website
Menetou Salon Blanc
Pierre Clement has raised the quality of his Menetou-Salon wines to new heights. He has equipped his winery with the most up to date equipment to ensure gentle handling of the fruit and the full extraction of aromas and flavors. Clement vinifies his Sauvignon Blanc grapes using one-third maceration peliculaire (maceration with the skins). The temperature of the juice is lowered as the fermentation begins slowly using only native yeasts. The young wine is left on its fine lees in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks through the winter and is bottled after a light filtration in March. The Domaine de Chatenoy Menetou-Salon Blanc is an amazingly vivid wine, bursting with aromas of citrus, white peach and flowers. On the palate, it has good concentration with flavors of red grapefruit, apricot, and minerals. In her "A Wine and Food Guide to the Loire", Jacqueline Friedrich rates Domaine de Chatenoy an “Excellent” producer, calling his Menetou-Salon white “super.” This is a must-discover wine, both for its value and vivid flavors that match perfectly with lobster and scallops, as well as river fish, white meats, and vegetable pastas and risotto.

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