Les Vins de la Gabare is a project involving Angevin producer Nicolas Réau and local growers in Anjou and Nantes to make as naturally as possible, wines that faithfully reflect the place they come from. This project is in association with Les Caves de Pyrène, the idea being to create a range of excellent-value natural wines from organically-farmed vineyards.
Nicolas is based in the north of the Deux-Sèvres, not far from Thouars, south of Saumur. His own domaine comprises a little over 7 hectares located at the geological crossroads of the Armorican massifs, the central region and the Paris basin.
A former jazz pianist, Nicolas has become an increasingly important face in the natural wine world and has been making low-intervention wines since 2002 and started experimenting with zero-sulphur wines in 2007. He is often seen at La Dive Bouteille (his wife and fellow vigneron Sylvie Augereau is the organiser of that prestigious event) and other natural wine fairs around the world.
His own estate is called Le Clos des Treilles, but given the capricious nature of vintages in this part of the Loire, Nicolas has been forging links with local growers to supplement those from his own vineyards. Buying grapes is encouragement for these producers to work organically. Les Vins de la Gabare sees him working with small farmers in Anjou and also in the Pays Nantais and he makes the wines to the same exacting standards as he does those from his own estate.
These are excellent natural wines, clean, fresh and understated with good energy and pleasing tension and represent terrific value for money in this region.
In all cases, grapes are manually harvested just at the point of ripeness and placed in small crates so as not to damage the fruit. The whites are straight-pressed and fermentation starts in tank immediately; the red grapes (100% Cabernet Franc) are destemmed and macerated for three weeks and fermented partly in concrete vats and partly in tapered wooden tanks. All wines naturally undergo full malolactic fermentation (very unusual in the case of Muscadet) and spend a period of time on the lees to gather structure and complexity.
The Cabernet Franc sees no sulphur whatsoever and the Muscadet sur lie “La Pentière” and the Chenin respectively have around 15-20 ppm added before bottling.
The Muscadet has greater breadth than most, Les Grandes Hermines is more elegant and less powerful than many Chenins from this region, and the Les Amandiers possesses lovely ripe curranty fruit with a dash of that Cab Franc pepper.
2021VdF Les Grandes Hermines
2020 Muscadet sur lie “La Pentière”
2020 Anjou Rouge “Les Amandiers”