2008 Domaine Fabrice Gasnier Chinon Vieilles Vignes
It all started in 1924 when an Austrian philosopher gave a series of lectures called "The Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture." But when we were first confronted with a winegrower who had adopted biodynamie, we were appropriately cynical. We'd known the grower for years, but suddenly he seemed a bit possessed by biodynamics. After listening to rat-a-tat-tat ranting, we came quickly to the opinion that the grower should read less Rudolf Steiner philosophy, while spending more time with a good Strasbourg shrink!
But we were wrong. Horribly wrong. One can dispute whether the brilliantly pure and energetic wines of estates like Zind-Humbrecht, Domaine de Marcoux and Marcel Deiss are a function of homeopathic vineyard treatments or sheer inventive spirit. But one thing's for certain. You can't argue with the fruit purity of the finished product.
Fabrice Gasnier was walking us through his rows of 60+ year old vine Cabernet Franc, set on a plateau outside the Rabelaisien town of Chinon. Gasnier is the humble wunderkind of this part of the Loire Valley, putting out wildly rich, wonderfully aromatic Chinon that makes most Bordeaux blush. In 2007, Gasnier had completed his 5-year plan, converting his family's property first from traditional farming to organic, before catching the biodynamic bug. In 2008, just a year later, he hit the jackpot.
"Before, when we were using pesticides and herbicides and we had cold, wet weather, like we saw in the beginning of the 2008 season, we said to ourselves, 'there's going to be mildew, disease. It must be killed.'" Fabrice scooped up a handful of clay-calcareous soil and smiled. "But I don't think that way anymore. Now when I see disease or the potential for disease in the vines, I don't view it as a problem. I see it as a sign that something is out of balance on the property and I treat the problem homeopathically to restore balance in the vines." Fabrice shrugged. "Crazy? Peut-etre. But I don't know how else to explain the color, the fruit or the structure of the 2008 Vieilles Vignes."
While other producers seemed to have trouble bringing their Cabernet Franc to optimal ripeness, Gasnier, with his somewhat cosmic vineyard keeping, brought the few bunches on these old (but astoundingly healthy) vines to sensational ripeness. While others made wines that were somewhat dull, the 2008 Vieilles Vignes from the wunderkind is lush purple, wild and explosive, a wine of eyepopping purity and energy.
Winegrower Fabrice Gasnier
Tasting Notes from the WineAccess Travel Log
"Bright purple color. High energy, mineral, red fruit aromas. Deep, rich and wonderfully solid on the palate with fine compactness and sturdiness. Still full of primary fruit explosiveness, drink now for all that high-toned fruit, or even better, give this old vine Chinon a couple years to shed its baby fat. Drink now-2015."