Producer Profile: Cellettes is a small town just south of the Loire River in the winemaking region of “Cheverny” in the eastern reaches of this famous French valley. In 1995 the winegrower Hervé Villemade, whose hometown was this rural perch not far from the Russy Forest’s old oak trees, took over his family’s original estate of 8.5 hectares of vines that were farmed entirely conventionally way back when. Within the first several years, Hervé discovered this means of farming was both bland and uninspiring (not to mention personally harmful in addition to its eradication of most microbial life in the soil). And so, piqued by this intuitive sense of un-fulfillment, he tasted several wines of Marcel Lapierre in Beaujolais in addition to the wines of nearby winegrower Thierry Puzelat at Clos du Tue-Bouef. Almost immediately, Hervé eschewed conventional cellar techniques (lab yeasts, additives, fining agents, SO2, etc.), experimenting with Zero-Zero wines; the conclusion of these early experiments was that he needed better fruit. Wines are made in the vineyard, so the saying goes. Soon after, in ~2000, Hervé began the ridiculously difficult organic conversion of his nearly 15 hectares of vines from age-old conventionally-farmed vines – this is where Villemade, a natural wine Loire staple, truly started. At it for over 20 years now, Hervé’s wines are undoubtedly distinct and more so, some of the most playful yet clear renditions of the utterly fresh Loire libations we’ve all come to love so very much.
Vinification: 100% Gamay. Grapes hand-harvested and fermented whole cluster in concrete. Bottled unfined, unfiltered with no SO2.
Tasting: A medium bodied, liter-sized bottling of classic, glou-glou Loire Gamay. Rustic minerality, bright red fruit, crunchy blackberries and lively acidity. With just a touch of tannin on the finish, this is destined for pizza night. Serve chilled.