It’s hard to wrap your brain around nine generations. How many “great-gramdmothers” is that? How many grape harvests in nine generations? Well, Amélie Neau will tell you. She is a ninth generation vigneronne and daughter of Régis Neau who grew-up in the Cabernet Franc wonderland of Saint-Cyr-en-Bourg.
The Neau family property is 50 hectares and will charm you with its 17th and 18th century buildings, made from the local yellowish limestone rock, tuffeau jaune. The same rock (part of Loire’s greater Turonian plateau) is the foundation of their vineyards, most notably their two monopoles, Clos des Châtains and Les Loups Noirs, which have been the stronghold of the Domaine since their restoration in 1933 and 1946. If you look at Nerleux on the map, then you’ll notice that they are sandwiched between two impressive terrains, the vineyards of Brézé and Chacé. They have been approached, many times, to sell their land, but they have chosen to be faithful to their “greats.” Their soils have never touched a synthetic chemical or fertilizer; that’s nine generations of organic, and their discipline in the vineyard matches their logic in the cellar. They are advocates of natural yeasts and favor cement, steel, and demi-muids over new oak. Press or no press, cool vintage or warm vintage, these continue to be some of the greatest values of the Loire Valley.
Why is it – that to enjoy Cabernet Franc, some think, you must spend over $120 on a wine list (to drink something that is delicious, but tastes like it was made in Bordeaux). Where have all the pretty purple flowers gone? Where is the tang and the sweet fruit rolled in forest green that is the hook and line of Loire Valley Cabernet Franc? If you appreciate those quirks and disappearing oddities, then follow the reddish-orange pin to Saint-Cyr-en-Bourg and Domaine de Nerleux.
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