Raphaël Midoir

BACKGROUND

Located In the village of Chémery in the Loire Valley, the 27 hectares vineyard is managed by Raphaël Midoir and his family with a breakdown of 20 hectares planted with white grapes (Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay) and 7 hectares of red varietals (Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Gamay). The cellar has recently been renovated and allows clay and flint soils to fully express into relevant wines, elaborated with great accuracy following the climate given year in year out and the characteristics of each grape variety.

Raphaël Midoir is at the helm since 1997, following his father path, and carries on a tradition of 5 generations of winegrowers. He produces and selects wines respecting the region quality standards and traditions. Every wine, including his Cremants selection, or the new Gamay “Jean” vinified without added sulfite, has a unique characteristic.Steep Hill decidedfirst to focus on his terroir drivenSauvignon Blanc by importing two different dry wines: the entry level TouraineSauvignon “De Silex &Tuffeau” and the recently created Touraine Oisly appellation of origin, and completed the list with the Gamay “Jean” (no added sulfites).

Raphaël wines are sold in the domestic market and in some other countries with Great Britain, Belgium and Canada as strongholds.

Located at roughly 60 km from Tours, the Midoirs recently have started to sign their own bottles with their surname leaving in the closet the old domaine name Bellevue. The vines are from 5 to 35 years old and are planted on clay and limestone soils. Marked by a fresh climate, rains levels in Chémery are under the average compared to other Loire areas.

It is difficult to talk about a wine region that spreads out for roughly 600 km east-ward with Muscadet at one end and Sancerre at the other. It’s even more unusual to be able to generalise in this region when it comes to vintage charts. Are you bored about vintages descriptions? There is an alternative, which is to remain blissfully ignorant of the bigger picture, but pay a little passing attention to occasional and ephemeral nuggets.

2017 vintage has been pretty difficult: Frost wreaked havoc in much of the Loire, with up to 95% crop loss in Savennières – although, overall, yields are slightly higher than the equally devastated 2016. Touraine has been hit by the frost but not killed, fortunately. Yet the quality of the remaining grapes by harvest time was promising, with perhaps slightly lower acidity than usual in the whites and good ripeness in the reds.The ensuing growing season was relatively dry and warm, running one to two weeks early through harvest, and scattered rains in the 2ndhalf of July helped to freshen the vines. Whites are pure and precise, reds are fresh and charming. In all, yields for the 2017 vintage are up by about 7% compared to 2016, yet they are still about 18% lower than average.

2018:What a year! Even the oldest winegrowers can scarcely remember a better Loire Valley harvest, both in quality and yield. 2018 will be etched on our memories as a historic vintage. From Nantes to Sancerre we’re seeing highly aromatic, flavourful wines across all three colors.

Spring weather was very favorable, promoting remarkably early flowering and excellent fruit set. Unhampered by hail or frost, the vines continued to develop normally with no major problems – until June.                                                                       In Touraine,the first Sauvignonsshow thiol-based flavors of citrus and pineapple while those picked later are full of peach and apricot, giving plenty of scope for some superb blends. Generally speaking alcohol levels are a bit higher than the normal in this wine district.

On September 2011, two new appellations in the Loire Valley were born, both located in the Touraine district; Touraine Oisly and Touraine Chenonceaux.Let’s start from Touraine Chenonceaux which is close to the famous Chateau de Chenonceau, one of the Loire Valley’s most well known chateaux. It originates from the early 1500 and is spectacularly built on the River Cher, a tributary of the Loire. Wines from this appellation are available in both white and red version: the white is to be made of Sauvignon Blanc alone and the red with Cabernet Franc and Malbec (regionally known as Cot). Overall, this new appellation started in its debut year comprising a total of 36 hectares.

Touraine Oisly is smaller and the only variety permitted is Sauvignon Blanc. At the time when regulatory council meetings were held, some eyebrows were raised among wine experts and opinion leaders when Chenin Blanc variety was not considered. In 2011 vintage, the first released to the market, only 8 wineries were part of the club appellation and only 1,100 hectoliters of 21 hectares have been accepted to represent the denomination. The maximum yield allowed is 60 hectoliters/hectare and wines must be matured on fine lees at least until 30 Aprilfollowing the harvest. The use of chips is obviously prohibited. This quality requirements give way to racy white wines with roundness and complexity and marked by elegance and finesse.
In 2014 the Touraine Oisly appellation dimensions increased to 28 hectares with a harvest volume of almost 1550 hl. while the producers were 11. All this led to 42% volumes produced increase compared to 2011 with a notable 23% sold to the export market (Germany is the leading country, followed by Belgium and Holland).

Currently Steep Hill imports three wines: The Sauvignon Blanc Touraine “De Silex & Tuffeau”,the Sauvignon Blanc from the sub appellation Touraine Oisly, and the Gamay Touraine “Jean”.

Sauvignon Blanc “De Silex & Tuffeau” Touraine 2018: This Sauvignon is a genuine white wine from the Loire Valley coming from vines aged between 5 and 35 years old planted on clay limestone and flint soils. The volcanic tufa element marks overall the wine balance and freshness. As a consequence, in order to create vines competition, yields are kept pretty low, with only 50-60 HL per hectare.                                                                         The grapes are then gently pressed to extract maximum aromas. The settling takes place 24 to 48 hours later and the gross lees are separated from the juice which is transferred to stainless steel tanks for the low temperature fermentation process. After racking the wine is then transferred into other tanks for batonnage. After a few months, the wine is filtered and bottled without useless manipulations in order to keep the freshness and minerality typical of the estate’s terroir. 

Tasting: at sight the wine is pale yellow with a green tint. The nose is immediately influenced by white currant and the grapefruit freshness, while by swirling the glass passion fruit and more exotic elements come through. Lingering flavors extend this refreshing wine experience. Racy and elegant this Sauvignon can be appreciated with grilled sea food or maybe fresh (or hot) goat cheese on toasted bread. It is best to serve this wine chilled, between 8 and 10°C.           

Sauvignon Blanc Touraine Oisly 2017: This authentic wine comes from “la Plaine des Cailloux” plot situated in the small appellation of Touraine Oisly producing Sauvignon Blanc, the only grape allowed, with certain characteristics (Raphaël for instance allows only 45-50 Hl per hectare and his yields can be considered on the average within the area)  This wine district has been recently created by INAO in 2011 and can bring on the table a more rounded elegant style than standard Touraine Sauvignon. According to Raphaël: “This plot of vines is 35 years old and is ideally located at the top of the village on clay soil intermixed with flint layers. It is well-trained so I can wait for the grapes to be fully ripe and harvest as late as possible. I can obtain a goodgrape maturity achieving the perfect balance between sugar, alcohol and acidity”.                                                                        Coming from the 2017 stellar vintage, the Touraine Oisly is steel vats fermented and aged with lees stirring until bottling which usually takes place in May. Tasting and style: The wine is pale yellow displaying a green tint. Packed with citrus fruits notes, the nose is light and floral, the mouthfeel is compact and deep. This mineral and complex Sauvignon Blanc will be the ideal pairing with a “sandre de Loire” fillet or angler fillet with cream sauce, region crayfish or “Saint Jacques” with basmati rice. The ideal service temperature is between 10 and 12°C.         

Gamay “Jean” Touraine 2018 – No added sulfite: Only recentlythe Gamay “Jean” has been added to Steep Hill import program and the 2018 vintage is truly awesome. This wine is a homage to Raphaël’s Grand Father, whose name was, of course, Jean. He was in deep love with the Gamay varietal.

Raphaël decided to create this new cuvee in 2016, with the 2017 being the debut vintage. The main purpose is to focus on the natural fruit expression of the grape and this is the reason why he decided to elaborate this cuvee without any external addition of sulfites. The vines grow on clay-limestone and flinty soil averaging approximately 40 years of age with yields limited from 40 to 55 hl/Hectare. Fermentation and maturation occurs in stainless steel vats (no carbonic maceration), then the wine is bottled in spring. The final result is pure andimpressive marked by forest fruits and spicy notes and a broad, persistent mouthfeel.  This is an ideal pairing with a goat cheese salad or “Parmentier” duck and it can be served partially chilled (14° to 16° C).

In a nutshell

  • Who: Raphaël Midoir
  • Where: Loire Valley, Chémery
  • What: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Malbec
  • Hectares: 27
  • Quantity: 170,000 bottles
  • Plus: Quality price ratio wines. One of the handful of growers working in the Touraine Oisly appellation

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Raphael Midoir

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