Clau de Nell | Anjou
Clau de Nell is the late Anne-Claude Leflaive's beautiful property in the Loire Valley - which takes it's name from the previous owners Claude and Nelly - and follows strict biodynamic principles both in the vineyard and the cellar. It was purchased in 2008 by Anne-Claude and her husband, Christian Jacques who appointed Sylvain Potin, well-versed in biodynamic viticulture, to be their estate manager.
The domaine is located in the Loire Valley wine region of Anjou, southeast of Angers and northwest of Saumur, in the village of Ambillou-Château. The vineyards range in age up to 100 years old and are situated on a south-facing knoll. The property consists of 12 contiguous hectares (30 acres), of which 5 hectares (12.4 acres) are planted to Cabernet Franc, 4.5 hectares (11 acres) are planted to Chenin Blanc, 2 hectares (4.9 acres) to Grolleau and 1 hectare (2.5 acres) to Cabernet Sauvignon.
No wines were bottled here for several years whilst the property was given the full 'Leflaive' treatment and it was only in 2009 that a small production became possible and then 2011 before Clau de Nell became fully commercial.
Yields are less than 30 hectolitres per hectare (2.2 tons per acre). Harvest is by hand and entirely de-stemmed prior to cuvaison. The wine cellars are centuries-old, historic troglodyte (limestone) caves created from the tuffeau quarries, which maintain a constant temperature of 14°Celsius (57°Fahrenheit). The wines are aged for 18 months in oak barrels in the caves which were ready to welcome the new wines.
Grolleau, a grape variety native to Touraine, has played a major part only in Rosé d’Anjou in the past, as it is prone to very high yields. However, when yields are limited and the vines are very old and cultivated 100 percent biodynamically, as at Clau de Nell, the results are surprising, with a remarkable purity of fruit and velvety tannins.