The Boulay hit parade continues: the 2011 Chavignols.

The Boulay hit parade continues: the 2011 Chavignols.

Bonjour a tout le monde!
It was an honor and a pleasure to meet, taste, and walk the vineyards with Gerard Boulay this past June.  I can only imagine what it must be like to farm the same land that your family has farmed since 1400!!! The image above is Gerard standing in the Clos de Beaujeu, with the Mont Damnes in the background, two of the most important terroirs of Chavignol, Sancerre.  To say that he is of the greatest statesmen of his place is an understatement: when we went into a bistro in Chavignol, virtually the entire place hushed with murmurs of a “look at that celebrity” ilk; no, they weren’t referring to my skinny, long-haired character……
As we tasted through the 2011s in both tank and barrel, Gerard’s soft spoken, gentle character was readily apparent.  He has the demeanor of a farmer, whose decades of time in the vineyard have shaped him.  As we drove to and walked the vineyards, he was above all else attuned to the markings of the growing season as reflected by Nature’s signals: the irregular flowering of the season’s warm start, and then cool second phase; the hints of mildew on neighbor’s vines reflecting both the challenges of the wet spring and the difference in vigilant vineyard work (his vines were virtually spotless); the cherries that we picked and ate at the base of the Mont Damnes “Comtesse” parcel that were very swollen with water yet poor in sugar concentration, another sign of the wet spring.  This depth of experience and knowledge working his native soil is virtually unrivaled, which makes it all the more surprising that he has stayed below the radar for so many years.  However, the tides are indeed starting to shift, and the world is taking greater notice.  The wines of the 2010 vintage were profound, and literally sold out in a matter of a month or two.  And people kept asking me for more!!!  Now we have the 2011s arriving, that are a bit more tender in their acidities, but still quite focused with the signature palate staining long mineral finishes that I relish in great Sancerre/Chavignol.

“There has seldom, if ever, been a finer pair of vintages back to back here than 2010 and 2011”
“the basic bottlings from this address – in pink as well as white – remain consistently outstanding values.”
-David Schildknecht of Parker’s Wine Advocate

The wines:
2011 Sancerre rose $22 – This has to be one of my favorite roses from 2011, downright mouthwatering…..I had to reload!
“Light orange-pink.  Intense, mineral-driven aromas and flavors of strawberry, cherry, honeysuckle and blood orange.  Lithe and precise, with excellent clarity and mineral cut.  Finishes very long, with subtle sweetness and lingering mineral and ginger notes. ” 92 points Josh Raynold’s of Tanzer’s IWC

2011 Sancerre Tradition $23 – Every year, a terrific value…..
“Tasted from the earliest of several bottlings representing a common assemblage, Boulay’s regular cuvee of 2011 Sancerre leads with scents of mint, pennyroyal and chervil, and behind that fresh grapefruit and lime, all of which team up on the palate for a performance that’s irresistibly luscious, but also unusually buoyant, bright and invigorating for its vintage (virtues enhanced by palpable retained CO2). The herb and white pepper

impingement in this Sancerre’s sustained finish reminds me a bit of Gruner Veltliner, while chalk and

iodine add notes of intrigue. This will be a versatile delight over the next several years. ” 90 points David Schildknecht

2011 Sancerre Clos de Beaujeu $35
“Black tea, fresh lime, and oily crushed stone scent the Boulay 2011 Sancerre Clos de Beaujeu, which – tasted assembled from tank – offers a richly textured, smoky, zesty, faintly bitter palate impression. This lacks the airy openness, brightness, and elegance of the corresponding generic cuvee, but certainly finishes with impressive grip. I suspect it will be best drunk over the next 3-4 years, but won’tbe entirely surprised if it were to make a fool of me. ” David Schildknecht

2011 Sancerre Mont Damnes $35
“High-toned, penetrating scents of mint, wormwood, white pepper, and citrus oils rise from the glass of Boulay’s 2011 Sancerre Monts Damnes, along with some yeasty notes not surprising in a wine tasted from tank. Lemon and grapefruit offer an

invigoratingly bright palate with their accents of rind, pepper, and chalk; while peppermint and a sweet freesia-like suggestion of inner-mouth perfume add stimulating allure. Long on finesse and refreshment – and just plain long, this Sancerre’s evolution is going to be deliciously fascinating to follow over the next half dozen years, if not beyond. ” 91-92 points David Schildknecht

2011 Sancerre la Cote $39 To my taste, this is way better than David’s review…..
“Representing the second annual installment of wine from 15-year-old vines in a sweet spot on the Grand Cote, Boulay’s 2011 Sancerre La Cote was a bit oxidative at the moment when I tasted it, about to be sulfured before bottling. But if anything, on a portion of this bottling that enhances a sense of nutty richness that will no doubt continue to complement the citrus oil piquancy and lusciously succulent melon and peach fruit that abound.

Huckleberry and grapefruit rind add bitter notes of counterpoint to the protracted, generously fruited finish of a wine likely to be worth following for at least 6-8 years. ” 91-92 points David Schildknecht

2011 Sancerre la Comtesse $46
“From barrel, the Boulay 2011 Sancerre Comtesse leads with a sweetly scented bouquet of iris and honeysuckle, followed by quince and white peach, all combining on a lush, silken-textured, liquidly floral, almost honeyed palate that seems to glow with intensity and against which, remarkably for this vintage, chalky and seemingly crystalline mineral elements emerge to engage in a long and dynamic finishing interchange. This looks to fulfill the promise of this special spot on the Monts Damnes even as the 2010, inexplicably, does not. Look for at least a decade of intrigue and seduction. ” 92-93 points David Schildknecht

If you haven’t yet tried some of Gerard’s wines, I strongly encourage you to do so.  There is a reason why there is only one Chavignol, and the proof is in the pudding.
As always, if you have any questions or interests, feel free to contact me at


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