Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cour Cheverny "Domaine de la Désoucherie," Christian Tessier & Fils 2004

Domaine de la Désoucherie, the estate of Christian Tessier and his son Fabien, sits at one of the highest points in the terrain overlooking the commune of Cour-Cheverny, just west of Blois, in one of the coolest reaches of France’s Loire Valley. In the heart of château country, the estate sits within easy reach of the castles at Chambord, Cheverny, Blois and Beauregard. Though instituted as an AOC only in 1993, Cour-Cheverny can trace its roots back to the early 16th Century, when Francois I brought vine clippings from Burgundy to be planted on the grounds of his castle, Romorantin, designed for him by Leonardo da Vinci. Over the centuries, this vine’s identity became essentially one with the land surrounding Francois’ château; today, the vine is known as Romorantin, its origins in Burgundy all but forgotten.

Decidedly one of the more obscure of France’s wine regions, and produced from one of its least known grape varieties, Cour-Cheverny comprises just under 400 hectares of vineyard area confined to four communes surrounding the eponymous town. Tessier père et fils farm 25 of those hectares, planted on a soil base of silica, clay and flint. They produce wines within all three of the regional AOC’s: Cour-Cheverny, white wine made purely from Romorantin; Cheverny Blanc, blended white from Chardonnay and Sauvignon; and Cheverny Rouge, a red blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir. Typical to this cool climate viticultural zone, they also produce sparkling wine under the broad, regional AOC of Crémant de Loire.

Romorantin is a difficult vine to cultivate and a challenging wine to produce. It does not make for a happy blending partner. And its fruit, slow to ripen, must remain on the vine for up to a month after its local counterparts, making it highly susceptible to damage by rot and fall rainstorms. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that Cour-Cheverny is essentially the only region in the world where Romorantin is cultivated in any meaningful quantity. Wine doesn’t get much more locally specific than this.

Cour-Cheverny “Domaine de la Désoucherie,” Christian Tessier & Fils 2004
A limpid golden green in the glass, Tessier’s Cour-Cheverny is evocative of fresh hay and acacia blossoms on the nose. Those aromas carry through to a palate of bitter lemon and delicate minerality, medium acidity and broad, fresh texture. With time in the glass, a hint of honey and toasted hazelnuts emerges, finishing with a subtle suggestion of orange marmalade. The wine screams Loire Valley in its cool, crisp, mineral tones. No one could be faulted for mistaking the wine for a less honeyed version of Chenin or even for a less citrus example of Sauvignon. Its personality, though, asserts itself in a way that is simply and proudly different.

The wine paired admirably with roast chicken with pan roasted golden beets and yukon gold potatoes; it threw sparks in particular when sipped after the beets. Shellfish and medium-aged goat cheese should also make for lovely culinary partners.

$16. 12% alcohol. Natural cork closure. US importer currently unknown.


RougeAndBlanc said...

Too bad this Domaine de la Désoucherie is not available in NY, sound like a good one though. Wish I have a chance to get a bottle and compare it the Cour-Cheverny by Francois Cazin which I like a lot.

David McDuff said...

And I'll have to keep an eye out for the Cazin, as I haven't seen it in the Philly area market.

Anonymous said...

We love the wines of Philippe Tessier. Try getting Cour-Chevery from David Lillie at Chambers Street wines, NYC. Try David for ANY Loire wine. I buy from them even though I moved to CAlifornia and then to Florida.

David McDuff said...


Thanks for the comment. Why not identify yourself next time?

I also love Philippe Tessier's Cour-Cheverny. I brought some back from my last trip to the Loire, purchased at the Chidaine's wine shop, La Cave Insolite, in Montlouis-sur-Loire.

I'm also well acquainted with Chambers Street, one of my regular stops when in NYC. I haven't seen wines from either of the Tessier estates there but they do regularly stock the wines of François Cazin.

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