Thirst's November Wine Share If you're interested in signing up email us. Our original share has a waitlist but we've started a second share to accommodate demand, and to continue keeping it all about very hard-to-find natural wines.
Natural Wine Isn’t a Fad. It’s A Quest.
– Rémi Sédès
The power of our wine share is that it allows us to share with you super-limited wines that otherwise are gobbled up for wine lists at a few of our favorite natural wine places but at on-premises pricing (double or triple the cost of our retail price).
This month we feature three bohemian Loire natural winemakers who epitomize Thirst’s ethic. These are people who work with passion in their vineyards, with the help of a horse and a plow, to make wines that are pure expressions of place.
François Saint-Lô is a rising star whose first vintage was 2012, a difficult vintage with a lot of rain, but from which he made some fantastic wine. Emilia and I discovered him at RAW London in 2013 when we tasted his unfinished wines, were blown away by their potential, and arranged to get him imported. A number of you may have already had the opportunity to buy his wines in our shop. Now he has a big following in the nattiest wine spots in Paris, Tokyo, NYC, and other places obsessed with fine natural wine.
François was born in Normandy. Although his family was not involved with winemaking, he became passionate about wine, apprenticed with Olivier Cousin, among others, and then managed to acquire, thanks to a few lucky meetings, and help from friends and family, a magical place in the Anjou region of the Loire Valley. It has troglodyte caves, a cellar that he renovated and made impeccable, an 18th century wine press that hadn’t been used in 25 years, and a few hectares of vines of Chenin Blanc, Gamay, Grolleau, and Cabernet Franc.
François’ stunning wines achieve an elegant balance and a taste of place, and give us a feeling of déjà vu — they remind us why we fell in love with the Loire in the first place.
La Coulée d’Ambrosia (The Ambrosia Flow) is run by Jean-François Chéné. His first vintage was 2005. Before that, the domaine was run by his father. His vineyards are located in Beaulieu-sur-Layon. He has about a hectare and a half of Cabernet Franc, three hectares of Chenin Blanc, and a little bit of Grolleau (about half a hectare) on limestone-clay soils with schist and silex. Like François and Rémi (and all the winemakers we really give a shit about), Jean-François is a visionary. He’s especially inspired by the oxidative wines of the Jura, and believes to serve that he must do the best work he can in the vineyard, where everything is done according to biodynamic principles. His wines have a pure, fruit-driven style, often with oxidation and high minerality.
In 2006, he joined an association called SEVE, which, in particular, defends the originality of each wine, of each terroir, and is critical of the Appellation System. Chéné, for instance, has had his wines refused appellation status because they are so different from standard, homogenous wines. He was advised that in order to make his wines comply he would have to add sulfur. “Out of the question!” he answered. This is why all of his production has no reference to the place from which they come (like much of the wines we sell). This has given Jean-François an opportunity to give them a name of their own. In short, he tries to avoid as much as possible any intervention replacing, for example, the use of a pump with racking by gravity.
Warm and friendly, formerly a professional accordionist, Rémi Sédès is a Wizard With Gamay. He’s been a key part of the natural wine renaissance in the Coteaux d’Ancenis. He works tirelessly in his vineyards, plowing with horses (a mare named Tocade and her daughter Céleste). The horses live in a paddock next to the vines, weigh almost a ton apiece, and are regularly allowed to roam in the vineyard to help with, well, fertilizing. As with many of the winemakers we adore, being a vigneron is a lifestyle Rémi deeply enjoys. He loves working outdoors, and if he’s going to be in the fresh air he doesn’t want it to be contaminated by machines. For Rémi, natural wine isn’t a fad. It’s a quest. He also calls sulfur, a serial killer of indigenous yeasts.
Rémi was born in the Jura. Before starting his own project in 2004, he staged, most notably, with Chateau Le Puy in Bordeaux and Vincent Caillé in the Loire. He farms 4 hectares that contain Gamay and Melon de Bourgogne.
2013 La Coulée d’Ambrosia EUREKA is a pet-nat made from Chenin Blanc that’s a bit oxidative but 100% pleasure.
2015/2016 La Coulée d’Ambrosia Le BOIT SANS SOIF is a carbonically macerated Grolleau that’s very light and slightly fizzy. Yes, this is a wine you can easily drink a bottle of even if you’re not thirsty (and not get drunk).
2016 François Saint-Lô HEY Gro! is similar but different from the Le Boit Sans Soif. It too is ridiculously low in alcohol, but it’s gently pressed using François’ revolutionary-era press. In French, this wine they call a wine like this joli. If you can resist quickly drinking it, let it breathe and see how it opens up.
2015 Rémi Sédès Cuvée Noé is a Gamay from granitic soil named after Rémi’s five-year-old son. It’s a well-structured Gamay with a pleasant earthiness and tannic grip. It’s also the wine his wife most loves to drink.
The day before you can make the rillettes (or you can buy one from a Farmers Market). You can make the tarte tatin in the morning. The razor clams dish will take about forty-five minutes to prep and cook. To accompany the rillettes, which will be banging with the Chenin pet-nat, serve fresh radishes, good salted butter, and cornichons, with She-Wolf baguette or miche or something similar.
You can also add a cheese course, or substitute it for dessert. Find some lovely local goat cheeses (or pick some from the Loire!).