100% Chenin Blanc. Faye-d'Anjou.
There, extending until its horizon, stretches the shallow river valley of the Layon, a southern tributary of the Loire. There rises its idyllic, windswept aspect and its schistous hills veined by indigo-hued phtanite. It is true: this is what you get drinking a bottle of Benoît Courault’s, which is to say, the place’s dramatics seem to come to the fore when your nose dips into a glass that brims with one of his Chenins or Cabernet Francs. These are elegant, panoramic wines that bring you the feeling of that particular kind of communion with natural beauty when, say, peering toward where the sea meets the horizon, or watching a clear night sky in the middle of the woods with its enormous quiet.
Benoît Courault is originally from this general end of the Loire Valley, having grown up the son of a horse breeder & trader working in Maine-Anjou/Normandy. Rather than take up the family reins, so to speak, he decided he wanted to be even closer to the land, to cultivate some aspect of it. This, of course, drew him to the vine, and working as a sommelier in restaurants throughout Anjou left him wanting to make rather than serve wine, to follow that childhood impulse to cultivate the land. Several apprenticeships with a few particular legends of Vin Natur later (Domaine l’Anglore & Domaine des Sablonettes), he came into some parcels off the beaten path for dry & still wines in the Coteaux du Layon. As Meilleur Sommelier de France Pascaline Lepeltier so elegantly explains in her profile on Benoît Courault, this area’s climatic and topographical posture has always lent itself almost too-well to noble-rot-affected sweet wines – not dry. Well, enter The Courault!
For the first decade or so of owning these parcels of old vines, Benoît, his partner Emmanuelle & their two sons Alphone & Lucien lived literally in the middle of the vines. In a kind of spartan-mobile-home, they’d carved out a piece of pastoral heaven all their own – growing a kind of ‘vineyard-garden’ given how replete the property now stands with diverse cover crop, vegetable & fruit plants, goats, sheep, & rabbits, all living freely with & through the Courault hectares. This is a ridiculously hard-won, gemlike hillside where some of the best wines in the world are being made. Clean, deep, and sprawling – rare pieces that are generous now in their youth though more than capable of aging. Reserve your bottle below.