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Domaine de Bernier Chardonnay, Loire Valley, France.

Domaine de Bernier Chardonnay, Loire Valley, France.

Grapes

100% Chardonnay

 

Facts

  • The Domaine de Bernier is a wine from the Couillaud brothers, who’ve had winemaking in their blood for six generations. I’m also envious when I read things like that! My wife for example, has U.S President Ulysses S. Grant as one of her ancestors. My family tree? Nonexistent! I mean it’s there (obviously), but I’ve got no “cool dead relatives” on my side of the family! I guess the buck stops with me…! :)
  • The three brothers (Bernard, François and Michel) are more well known for their property in the Muscadet region of the Loire: Chateau de la Ragotière.
  • They purchased the property in ‘79, but winemaking at that property dates back to the 14th century. After the purchase was finalized, they discovered an old cellar in the chapel with wines dating back to 1947.
  • The winery isn’t exactly certified organic, but they do use all organic processes in the production of their wines….which is the case with a lot of European wines!
  • The Domaine de Bernier Chardonnay is 100% “estate-bottled”, meaning they don’t buy grapes from other vineyards. All the grapes in the bottle are sourced from their own land.
  • The wine is aged “sur lie” [sur lee], meaning it’s aged whilst resting on its dead yeast cells. This may sound slightly disgusting, but it imparts a yeasty/toasty flavor, giving the wine another dimension of complexity. It’s a process that’s widely used throughout the Loire Valley.
  • For more information on Domaine de Bernier, visit their website.

Domaine de Bernier Chardonnay, Loire Valley, France.

Loire-Valley-Wine-MapPlace (click map for larger view)

  • The Loire Valley tends to get overlooked when thinking about the “great wine regions” of France, but it’s certainly one of my personal favorites, and it should be one of yours too! That is, if you’re looking for wines “off the beaten path”.
  • The grapes for the Domaine de Bernier Chardonnay come from vineyards just outside the appellation of Muscadet, in the western part of the Loire Valley.
  • White grapes dominate the Loire, with Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Melon de Bourgogne leading the way. Don’t dismiss the reds altogether though; some of the Cabernet Franc’s from the Loire can be amazing (though an acquired taste for some)!
  • The Loire river is the longest river in all of France.
  • I normally don’t get into discussing soil, because…well…it’s dull! However; the soil types in the Loire play a huge role in determining the varieties of grape they’re planted to. The soil in this particular region is said to be almost a mirror-image of that in Muscadet, i.e. a heavy clay with a little bit of chalk. It’s a much debated issue on whether you can taste the soil in a wine. Personally, I think you can…
  • The Domaine de Bernier is from 20 year old Chardonnay vines. That certainly isn’t by any means the oldest vines can get, but for Chardonnay vines in this region it’s pretty significant! The older that vines get, the less grapes they produce, but the more concentrated the flavor.

Taste

Green apple, lemon zest, and that “sur lie” yeast/toasty aroma. Round, surprisingly “thick”, no oak, minerally, with the same green apple flavor, but also edging more towards slightly tropical fruit (mango and banana). For the price they are asking for, this can’t be beat! It may be a little harder to find in retailers, but it’s worth seeking out!

 

Pairing

Decent as an aperitif, but potentially even better if paired alongside shellfish, creamy white cheeses, seafood pasta, poached salmon, or sushi.

 

Price

$12 – Available in Jacksonville from Riverside Liquors and/or Royal Palm. Call first to order/confirm stock.

Domaine de Bernier Chardonnay, Loire Valley, France.

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