For a young man from the north of France, Xavier Weisskopf has a remarkably precocious track record in the world of wine. He went to school in Chablis, where his passion for the vine took root and led to the wine school in Beaune. After earning a degree in viticulture and enology, he went to work for the dynamic, hard-driving Louis Barruol at Château de Saint Cosme in Gigondas. He quickly became Louis’ chef du cave, and made four vintages there. In January 2005 Xavier bought 22 acres of vines in Montlouis and an awesome 15th century stone cellar dug out of the Loire’s chalk limestone bank in Amboise. These vines are scattered about in various parcels and were planted at different times, but the majority were put into the ground before WWII. Xavier plows his rows and doesn’t use chemical or synthetic products (going completely organic beginning in the spring of 2009). He prunes his younger vines severely for low yields of 30-35 hectolitres per hectare (the old vines give about 25 hl/ha), and harvests by hand. He favors wood barrels over steel tanks for the exchange of oxygen the former vessels permit, and he’s very careful to preserve fruit without letting oak intrude. He’s very much of a young vigneron to watch.
This wine comes from a four hectare parcel named Touch of the Mitten because it’s cold up there during pruning season. This is Xavier’s youngest parcel of Chenin (30+ years old) growing in limestone flint soil. Depending on the year, one-third is raised in tank and two-thirds in three-year-old barrels, or it’s raised entirely in older barrels (fatter years like ’06 and ’09 underwent the former, while ’07 and ’08 saw no steel during ageing). Elevage lasts six months with regular lees stirring, after which the wine is bottled to preserve fruit and elegance. Those who think all Chenin sec is lean and mean should try this version.