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, has a unique characteristic, but Steep Hill decided to focus on his terroir driven Sauvignon Blanc by importing two different dry wines: the entry level Touraine Sauvignon Tuffeau and the recently created Touraine Oisly appellation of origin. 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 in a 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.
After 2013 extreme difficult harvest with hailstorms and limited yields (except for an handful of producers who perfectly managed the vines making difficult decisions at the right time), 2014 has been described by many local growers in the districts of Touraine and Sancerre as the best vintage in 10 – 15 years with a gorgeous long summer producing healthy grapes marked by superb quality. September was like an Indian summer: blue sky and warm temperatures all day with quite cold nights. Lovers of grass-and-gunflint Sauvignon Blanc and summer-pudding-scented Cabernet Franc: you’re in for a treat, although it’s a little early for red wines from the 2014 Loire vintage to be totally evaluated now.
On the other hand hot 2015 wasn’t amazing as 2014 due to some water deficits and poor flowering in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé which lowered yields, but it was overall a good year in the Loire, with the same warm, dry summer that many other French regions enjoyed. In Touraine, summer was very dry and the weather during harvest was beautiful. As in Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé, Touraine saw very low yields due to water deficits and poor flowering. The grapes harvested, however, were still of excellent quality. Thankfully, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are showing ripe fruit flavors, with acidity levels slightly lower than preferred.
Two new appellations in the Loire Valley were born on September 2011. They are located in Touraine, the large region in the beautiful part of the Loire where most of the big, famous Loire chateaux are located. Touraine already has a number of sub-appellations and now it has two more: 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. Was the soil in these new appellations totally unsuitable for Chenin Blanc, the real gem of the central Loire valley? But Sauvignon Blanc is probably easier to sell though. That’s the point. 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 April following 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 reached 28 hectares with a harvest volume of almost 1550 hl. while the producers are now 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).
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