Le Rocher des Violettes Montlouis, Loire Valley
Xavier Weisskopf is one of the new generation of young producers buying into appellations in the Loire that are less developed, enabling his purchase in 2005 of well established old vineyards at Montlouis in Touraine.
‘I’d like to introduce you to one of the future stars of French viticulture: Xavier Weisskopf’
Jacqueline Freidrich, Guide to the Loire.
Having studied viticulture and oenology at Beaune he worked as cellar-master at Chateau St-Cosme in the southern Rhône before buying his first parcel of 6.8 hectares. He has gradually increasing his holdings to the current 13 ha of vines with 9 ha of vines in Montlouis and 4 ha of vines in Touraine AOC. Montlouis sits across the Loire on the south side from Vouvray and today is a hotbed of innovation. Here 100% Chenin Blanc is planted on similar tuffeau soils to Vouvray, though usually with a bit more sand. The Touraine appellation also produces Chenin Blanc, along with Grolleau for rosé and has some very old Côt (Malbec) and Cabernet Franc plantings. Xavier’s deft touch in the winery is transforming this old-vine material into wines of freshness, vivacity and not least, great value!
The entire estate is certified organic and with most of the vineyards being planted pre-1940 the yields are naturally low and all harvesting is done by hand. Xavier is looking for wines that are fresh, mineral and long so the wines are made with a light touch and little or no SO2 during vinification. Bottled with a minimal, yet prudent level of SO2, the finished wines show vibrant aromatics and a level of detail rarely seen from these appellations.
‘…the most exciting was Xavier Weisskopf, of Le Rocher des Violettes. His wines, crystal-pure, vibrant, pithy and long, were revelations.’
Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com, February 2015.
2014 Le Rocher des Violettes Montlouis Pétillant Originel (new wine, crown seal)
This wine was bottled in November 2014 and is kept on lees and disgorged to order. Our stock was disgorged in November 2017, so it has spent a full 36 months on lees. As such, it’s drinking even better now than when we tasted it in January.
‘Xavier is one of a handful of vignerons in the Montlouis appellation adhering to the Pétillant Originel regulations for a higher quality wine than just Pétillant. I think this is the first time he has been able to produce this cuvée in several vintages, 2012 and 2013 having been a little parsimonious. It is méthode ancestrale, obviously, the wine carrying between 12 and 13 g/l when it went into the bottle. It spent 25 months sur lattes, and had no dosage at disgorgement. A beautiful nose here, all confit apples, with a little brûlée caramelisation. The palate is very dry though, tense even, with a chalky substance, fresh and bright, with a fine mousse and defining acidity. A delicately grippy style, showing filigree detail, and a sour, pithy and fresh finish. Attractive.’ 94 points, Chris Kissack, winedoctor.com, February 2017.
2015 Le Rocher des Violettes Montlouis Touche Mitaine (new vintage)
100% Chenin blanc, hand-picked in successive tries from 4ha of vines averaging 35 years old and planted at 6500 vines/ha. Produced from low yields of just 48hl/ha and cool-fermented in stainless steel, followed by a 7 month elevage in 75% old oak and 25% stainless steel. Certified organic viticulture.
‘From a 3.5-hectare parcel of Chenin Blanc vines. This was vinified in 220-litre barrels, all old oak. It starts with a salty fresh nose, with some lightly dried citrus fruits. The palate is fresh, but with evident fruit confidence, especially mirabelle plum, laced with a lightly sherbetty minerality. The overall feel is cool, the delicately salted fruits cut with a fine acid backbone. A nicely defined and challenging substance, certainly bitter, on the finish. Very nicely composed. Well done.’ 93 points, Chris Kissack, winedoctor.com, February 2017.
2013 Le Rocher des Violettes Montlouis Touche Mitaine
‘A lightly polished minerally nose, with a soft and feminine perfume to it, reminiscent of soapstone. The palate has a rather gentle style, with soft orchard fruit substance, quite a deep, sappy character to it, with a textural grain that feels a little raw. Nice acids, despite the rather open feel of it. Very primary. This has some promise.’ 90 points, Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com, February 2015.
2013 Le Rocher des Violettes Montlouis Negrette
100% Chenin blanc, hand-picked in successive tries from a very old, 2ha vineyard around 90 years old and planted at 7800 vines/ha. Produced from very low yields of just 30hl/ha and barrel-fermented with ambient yeast, followed by an 11 month elevage in 500 litre oak (30% new). Certified organic viticulture.
‘From old vines, aged 90 years, with élevage in some new demi-muids plus older barriques, aged 5-6 years. A rather restrained character on the nose, with a little trace of honeyed straw which might be the oak coming through, over a layer of very delicate fruit. The palate feels soft, open and loose-knit at the moment, although there is some nice acidity beneath the rather delicate blanket of fruit.’ 90 points, Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com, February 2015.
2015 Le Rocher des Violettes Touraine Cabernet Franc
100% Cabernet Franc, hand-picked from 1ha of old vines averaging 40 years old. Produced from very low yields of just 30hl/ha, 100% de-stemmed and naturally fermented in one tronconique (upright truncated cone) oak vat for 3 weeks, followed by 12 months elevage in seasoned oak barriques. Vinified like Burgundy, the resulting wine is perfumed, fresh and bright, with an overt violet signature so typical of the very best Cabernet Franc. Finishing with fine silky tannins, it’s totally delicious and shows how great Cabernet Franc can be in the right hands. Certified organic viticulture.
‘This has a fresh core of crushed cherry and cassis flavors, laced with bay leaf and lavender notes and backed by a light chalky spine.’ 89 points, James Molesworth, WineSpectator.com, July 2017.
2013 Le Rocher des Violettes Côt Vieilles Vignes
100% Malbec, hand-picked from 1.8ha of old vines, planted in 1918, 1970 and 1991 at 7800 vines/ha. Produced from very low yields of just 25hl/ha and whole-bunch fermented with ambient yeast in one tronconique (upright truncated cone) oak vat for 3 weeks, followed by 12 months elevage in the same vat. Certified organic viticulture.
‘This is sourced from three parcels of vines, planted in 1918, 1970 and 1991. The overarching terroir is clay and limestone. Whole-bunch fermentation in this vintage. A rather dark, grainy, dried-fruit character on the nose. The palate has a fairly firm acid core, with gentle, macerated fruit wrapped around it, and a dried-fruit skin character, dark and savoury.’ Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com, February 2015.