François Saint-Lô
Les Pouches, 2017

Grower: François Saint-Lô
Region: Loire, France
Grape Varieties: Chenin Blanc
Viticulture: Biodynamic
Size: 75cl bottle

François began his journey in wine on the hospitality side, working in restaurants and wine bars before coming under the tutelage of the likes of Eric Dubois and Olivier Cousin. He acquired some plots in Berrie, not far from Saumur, and established the Rue des Belles Caves collective: a small community of like-minded individuals working in an array of trades. In time they settled into an awe-inspiring troglodyte cave (dug straight into the tufeau cliffside), and when it's not being utilised as a literal rave cave, it's where his winemaking seems to have truly found it's stride. François seems representative of a new generation of winemakers, committed to honest farming and never shy in attempting new approaches to winemaking. He and his horse tend to about 4.5ha of rented vines, and all cellar work is done by hand: necessarily so as the cave is such an elaborate maze of cathedral-like domes and spaces it would be near impossible to bring machinery in and out. It's been a wonderful experience to watch the wines trickle in vintage over vintage, with a real momentum of purity and finesse increasing every year. 2017 is the first vintage of Les Pouches, a wine now included in his collection in replacement of what used to be Fontanelles (located at over 30km away from the chai, and near impossible to farm with horse, it no longer made sense to work there). The Les Pouches site has a similar terroir makeup, with chalk and clay predominant and certainly feels that way on the palate - long, mineral character and a touch of mossy oyster shell, with rounded, soft white-fruited edges. While it's lovely now, it's a wine that would certainly benefit from a bit of patience as well.

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