Today’s cellar note takes us to the Loire Valley, France for a sip of the most remarkable wine. This wine tells the tale of Saint-Pourçain AOC located south of Moulins, family farming and a grape variety at risk of being lost. We purchased this wine from one of our favorite wine merchants, Les Marchands Restaurant & Wine Shop in Santa Barbara.
Red wines made from Gamay and Pinot Noir comprise the largest percentage of wine production in Saint-Pourçain AOC, followed by white wines made using Chardonnay, Tressallier and Sauvignon and finally, rosé wines. Did Tressallier catch your eye? Me too.
Most wines in Saint-Pourçain AOC are made through a cooperative, but a few independent producers craft wine in the region as well. That’s where the Teissèdre family comes into the picture.
In 1976 Odile and Olivier Teissèdre began as grain farmers near the village of Cesset before diversifying into grapes. In 1989 they planted the first grapes in their ‘Clos des Bérioles’ and today tend nearly 20 acres of vines.
In 2011 Jean Teissèdre joined his parents in the vineyards and when contracts to the area cooperative expired the family began crafting wines under their own label, Domaine des Bérioles. Four years later Sophie & Jérôme Roux, Jean’s sister and her husband, joined the family winery.
Jean has moved viticulture into organic practices and certification is expected in 2019. He also employs biodynamic principles. And the good news continues into the wine cellar where he uses indigenous yeast fermentation.
2016 Domaine des Bérioles Trésaille, Saint-Pourçain, Loire Valley — golden yellow with a hint of green in the glass. Generous aromas of grilled pineapple and oat hay are followed by primary flavors of crushed gravel, wet stone and slate. The acidity is citrusy and juicy with delicate flavors of ripe pears and intense salinity. The finish is very long. 12.5% abv. We likely paid about $20.
This is a most memorable wine. The minerality is intense and complex and coupled with the interesting salty finish and juicy acidity this is a wine that I just want to keep sipping.
We recently enjoyed this wine with a group of friends who found it just as interesting as we did. It paired beautifully with Saint-André cheese and grilled prosciutto and asparagus before dinner. We enjoyed the last sips the next day with lunch of charcuterie, cheese and bread.
According to Jancis Robinson et al. in Wine Grapes, Tressallier, as it is called in Saint-Pourçain, was named Sacy after a small village in Champagne south of Reims. It likely originated in Burgundy or northeastern France and is known to produce wines with high acidity and low alcohol but planted acreage is in decline. Tressallier may have originated from trans Alligerim, or beyond Allier, referring to the Allier River that runs through Saint-Pourçain AOC.
The exporter informs us:
Tréssallier is a local varietal unique to Saint Pourçain which is at risk of being pulled out and replaced by more internationally-known grape varieties. Domaine des Bérioles is determined to preserve Tréssallier and to make wines that demonstrate its full potential.Becky Wasserman & Co., Exporter
To my palate the Teissèdre family have succeeded brilliantly with their version of Tressallier. I hope you have the opportunity to taste it.