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INTRODUCTION

Corney & Barrow is proud to have been appointed the exclusive agent for Clau de Nell in the UK, starting with this 2019 vintage.

Clau de Nell is located in the village of Ambillou-Château, in Maine et Loire, between Angers and Saumur. The domaine’s story began in 2006 when Anne-Claude Leflaive and her husband Christian Jacques met the previous owners of the domaine.

They were immediately struck with the quality of the site, the age of the vines and the biodynamic principles that had been implemented in the vineyards since 2000. Anne-Claude being one of the foremost proponents of biodynamic viticulture at the great Domaine Leflaive and founder of CLAC — a venture designed to support and promote biodynamic growers in exporting their wines — Clau de Nell proved far too tempting to pass up, and in 2008, in a bid to save the property from insolvency, Anne-Claude and Christian took the decision to purchase it.

Following Anne Claude’s death in 2015, Christian continues to run the estate alongside winemaker Sylvain Potin and Christian’s daughter Claire who oversees sales and marketing. One of the guiding principles at Clau de Nell is Anne-Claude’s firm belief that winemakers should place nature at the heart of what they do, and wherever possible harmonise with the natural environment rather than resist it.

THE VINEYARDS

“We have not chosen Clau de Nell, so much as Clau de Nell has chosen us!”
Christian Jacques

Clau de Nell boasts 12 hectares of vines which include five hectares of Cabernet Franc, 4.5 hectares of Chenin Blanc, two hectares of Grolleau and one hectare of Cabernet Sauvignon. Production remains small, with average yields of less than 30 hectolitres per hectare. The vineyards are surrounded by forests and fields which encourage high levels of biological activity in the soils.

Geologically, the soils of Clau de Nell are incredibly varied, with the first 10cm being composed of silty sand, a product of fluvial erosion of rocks containing high levels of quartz. Further down, the soil is mainly sand and clay, with the deepest layers being composed of Tuffeau — a fine-grained limestone, made up of remains of organisms and fragments of rocks brought by rivers in the form of alluvium.

WINEMAKING

"At Clau de Nell, nature is essential, it is a philosophy of life. Letting nature take its course also means knowing how to grasp what is happening and how it will happen."

The wines are aged for 18 months in traditional caves created from the local Tuffeau quarries which provide the perfect conditions for élevageHarvesting is carried out by hand and the grapes are destemmed prior to maceration which lasts for 20 to 30 days.

All the wines are bottled without fining or filtration (the only exception being the Chenin Blanc which undergoes gentle filtration) which takes place on a fruit day in accordance with the lunar calendar.

THE WINES

    For most of the Loire valley, 2019 was the sixth successive good to very good vintage, an unusual occurrence in what most would consider a somewhat marginal climate. However, in 2019 there were significant challenges to be overcome at Clau de Nell, the first being the spring frosts that unfortunately resulted in a proportion of the crop being lost.

    Some cooler weather at the beginning of June did affect flowering, but this was quickly reversed with the onset of a drought that lasted until September, with heat spikes that reached 40˚C. Harvest began on 14th September with Chenin Blanc, followed by Grolleau on 25th and  26th, with the Cabernets being picked at peak maturity between 7th and 11th October.

    CUVÉE VIOLETTE 2019

    Bright violet-ruby colour. Intense berry aromas, with notes of blackcurrant and graphite from the Cabernet Sauvignon. The palate is broad and grippy, with a stony-mineral sense of dry extract and dark fruit, brilliantly balanced with refreshing acidity.  

    Corney & Barrow Score 17.5
    Recommended drinking from 2022–2028


    £339 /CASE OF 12 BOTTLES, inc. VAT
    £202.05 /CASE OF 3 MAGNUMS, inc. VAT

    CABERNET FRANC 2019

    A nose full of dark raisin-like berries, forest fruit and bitter cherry along with lifted violet aromas. The palate is pure, with chalky minerality and a leafy, herbaceous character so typical of Cabernet Franc. There is a freshness here that is hugely attractive and a finish of real length. Very good!

    Corney & Barrow Score 17 - 17.5
    Recommended drinking from 2022–2026


    £327 /CASE OF 12 BOTTLES, inc. VAT
    £190.05 /CASE OF 3 MAGNUMS, inc. VAT

    GROLLEAU, IGP VAL DE LOIRE 2019

    Only found in Anjou. The nose is a compelling juxtaposition of leafy, meaty and pure raspberry aromas. On the palate, there is a white pepper spice, almost Rhône-like, which lifts the firm raspberry and red cherry flavours. The tannins are ‘honest’ but sensitively extracted and refreshed by that juicy acidity which seems to be a theme here. Interesting and rather excellent!

    Corney & Barrow Score 18
    Recommended drinking from 2022–2026


    £363 /CASE OF 12 BOTTLES, inc. VAT

    TO ORDER

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