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Gerard Boulay Sancerre Tradition 2017

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I know it’s a wine that needs little introduction to many clients but for those who are new to this producer, here goes. The Tradition is drawn from several parcels of mature, 35-40 year old vines rooted entirely in the limestone soils of Chavignol (far and away the finest terroir of Sancerre). Boulay’s sources are largely hillside vineyards on the lower flank of the Monts-Damnés hill, and the more undulating, lower lying vineyards that lie opposite. Boulay also includes fruit from the younger vines in his crus of Les Monts Damnés and the Beaujeu. The juice is naturally fermented and aged for eight months in tank, on lees, with a small volume also fermented in a single large, upright fermenter. Tradition is the only blended cuvée in the Boulay line up, yet even here we can taste the kind of finesse, texture and stony, earthy and salty minerality that has made this humble grower one of France’s most respected. The intense lime and lemon pith, white floral and ripe stone fruit aromas and flavours remind of great Riesling and even white burgundy, while the subtle herb and chalk dust characters are all Chavignol. - Importer Note

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The steep, south facing, limestone slopes that tower over the tiny hamlet of Chavignol offer one of the world’s more remarkable terroirs. In short, Chavignol (within the Sancerre AOC) does for Sauvignon what the greatest vineyards of Piemonte do for Nebbiolo. They offer us a perfect symbiosis; a perfect match of soil, aspect, climate and grape variety. And like Piemonte, the local foods have evolved to match the wines produced. For example, the goat cheese Crottin de Chavignol, is simply one of the greatest matches for Sancerre (and Chavignol in particular). In Chavignol, the best wines have nought to do with varietal character; the grape simply plays conduit to the mineral freshness of the limestone-rich soils and the sun trapping, south facing exposition. This terroir creates (in the right hands) whites with that rare combination of hedonistic texture and racy, crunchy minerality. Importantly, Chavignol tempers Sauvignon’s herbaceous tendencies and produces great smoky, stone fruit noted whites of fabulous clarity, texture and energy. This is Sancerre that will wow even those who think they don’t like Sauvignon!

Gérard Boulay is one of the greats of this tiny village producing some of the most distinctive and sublime wines in Sancerre. The man himself is as focused and intense as the wines he crafts. He is also incredibly humble. His respect for Chavignol and its proud history is evident by his refusal to betray the terroir with lazy viticulture or industrial winemaking. Under Boulay’s charge, the quality of the land and its resultant produce need nothing in the way of corrections. The soil is ploughed, no herbicides or pesticides are used, yields are kept low and harvesting is by hand (extremely rare these days in Sancerre). In the winery there is no chapitalisation, no added yeasts or enzymes. The wine ferments naturally and Boulay doesn’t filter unless the wine needs it. Some of the wines are fermented in old barrels. Very importantly, the average vine age in the Boulay vineyards is over 45 years. Finally, and most significantly of all, is Boulay’s remarkable selection of Chavignol terroirs, including La Grande Côte, Le Cul de Beaujeu, Monts Damnés and a parcel of the very rare Comtesse (a historical lieu-dit in the Monts Damnés terroir). With a family history of winegrowing in Chavignol that dates back to the 1300’s, there is little wonder that the Boulay clan have managed to assemble one of the finest collections of vineyards in the area. 

- Importer Note

Additional Information

Volume (ml)750ml
Winemaking PracticesMinimal Intervention
Vineyard PracticesOrganic/Biodynamic
Product typeWine White Sauvignon Blanc

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