A Loire Rising Star
2009 Marula Le Haut Midi Touraine Rouge
There are a handful of producers whose wines are so good, whose palates are so sharp and personalities so forthright that, when they speak, we listen.
So when Jean-Francois Ganevat tells us his favorite Loire producer, we listen very closely.
Ganevat is a singular winemaker, an unwavering, independent personality whose fan-base in the U.S. has been growing steadily, despite the relative obscurity of his home in the Jura. As he was just picked up by none other than wine importer-rock star Kermit Lynch, look for his wines to get more attention.
We've been working with Ganevat's wines for over five years and we have learned to trust him - his instincts, his palate. So when he told me that Gérald Marula is making some of the best wines in the Loire,I paid attention.
(If Marula's wines are basically unknown in the U.S., in France he seems to be a bit of a "winemaker's winemaker" - some random web surfing brought up Chenin master Richard Leroy as another big fan of Marula.)
With these introductions, these expectations, we sought out Marula.
And the similarities with Ganevat's general style are obvious: clarity, detail, the nuances of terroir obviously refracted through the prism of the Loire instead of the Jura.
The "Le Haut Midi" is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grolleau and a smidgen of Gamay. It is fresh, alive, with an immediacy of fresh fruit flavors, subtle notes of spice and florality and an intense mineral streak.
This bottle is most decidedly NOT in the vin de garde style of a producer like Clos Rougeard. While it's likely that the wine will have no problem seeing its fifth birthday, this isn't the point. The wine is about immediacy, about energy, about joy, about drinkability. As such, this is a perfect wine to consume, in quantity, with food... particularly as we eye the beautiful cool-down of autumn.
This isn't to suggest that Marula's wine is simple in any way; it's actually quite dynamic and complex. The 2009 vintage in the Loire produced reds with plenty of concentration - yields for Marula's Haut Midi were only 20 hectoliters per hectare and the wine shows on the palate with a textured intensity. While 09 produced many fruit-driven wines, Haut Midi has plenty of savory herbal and mineral elements behind the fruit.
Marula's domaine is very small: just under two hectares. His "day job" is at Château de Coulaine in Chinon, while his own domaine is located just outside of Saumur on sandy clay soils over limestone, and the vines are up to 60 years old. This domaine is his baby; a place where he marches to the beat of his own drum. He works naturally, as one might expect with the Ganevat connection, farming organically and avoiding sulfur during vinification. Like many winemakers who work without sulfur, Marula bottles with a touch of natural gas to limit oxidation. Decanting is advised.
For the moment, the reds of the Loire continue to be wildly misunderstood and overlooked - the numbers don't really seem to add up but there we go. At $26.95 a bottle and down to $24.91 on the three-pack, all fans of Ganevat, fans of natural wines, and Loire fanatics are strongly advised to take a look.
To order, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the store at (212) 980-9463.
Crush Wine & Spirits