Domaine Philippe Gilbert

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The story of the Domaine Philippe Gilbert gives splendid evidence to the fact that our world of wine is endlessly fascinating and encompasses more than the technical aspects of growing grapes and turning them into wine. Philippe Gilbert was a dramaturg, producing and also writing plays for the theatre. In fact, one of his creations, a poetic and philosophical contemplation of the horrors of the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, was performed in the States. He is, then, a vigneron with a unique background. Nevertheless, he is very much the vigneron, having returned to take over the direction of his family domaine located in the hamlet of Faucards in the midst of the Menetou-Salon appellation. Having traveled the world and explored the intellectual side of the arts, Philippe still felt the pull of the soils that his father worked for many years, recognizing that, as his father prepared to retire, the domaine would no longer exist as it was without his participation. This is all understandable once it is understood that a certain Francois Gilbert turned from being a tavern-keeper to establish this domaine all the way back in 1768.

His return reinvigorated this domaine, one of the largest in the appellation with its twenty-seven hectares under cultivation. With the assistance of his colleague, Jean-Philippe Louis, Philippe Gilbert has plunged headlong into the system of biodynamic viticulture and the domaine is now certified as an organic producer. The vineyards are scattered throughout the heart of the appellation in prime sectors of the villages of Menetou-Salon, Vignoux, Parassy and Morogues. The soil is a classic mix of clay and limestone that sits on the famous kimmeridgian basin that extends from Menetou through Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire to Chablis and Champagne. This informs the wines of Menetou-Salon and makes them, at their best, intensely mineral with formidable persistence on the palate. The appellation itself covers a mere 470 hectares in a narrow band five kilometers wide and twenty-five kilometers long (from Pigny to Humbligny) and only Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc are permitted to be planted to qualify for the appellation. The micro-climate of Menetou-Salon is marked by warm days and cool nights which permit the grapes to develop proper sugar levels while maintaining excellent acid balance.

The largest parcel of the domaine is “Champaloin”, a southeast facing vineyard in Vignoux, the vines here being planted in 1960: four hectares of Pinot Noir and 2 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc.Then, there are two east-facing parcels in Menetou-Salon: Les Chandelieres (four hectares) planted in 1974 and 1976 and Davet planted in 1990. The vines here a equally divided between Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.

In the village of Parassy, there are three separate parcels: La Montaloise and the Clos du Bourg are both planted to Sauvignon Blanc and the parcel of Les Treilles, with its full south exposure and planted to the oldest vines of the domaine (both in Pinot Noir and in Sauvignon), which is the source for the Renardieres cuvées in white and red … the prestige bottling of the domaine. Finally, there is the Clos des Morogues, composed of 4.6 hectares of Pinot Noir, and situated at the ancient walls of the medieval village of Morogues.

Gilbert-Menetou-Salon-Blanc Menetou-Salon Blanc: This is the classic cuvée in white of the domaine. The grapes are hand-harvested, the fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks and there is an elevage on the fine lees (without batonnage) of fourteen months before bottling. Our allocation for the US market is on the order of 3600 bottles per vintage.
Menetou-Salon Rosé: This Rosé is vinified using the direct press method following the same principles as the process used for making the white wine. Obviously, it is 100% Pinot Noir and the grapes are sourced from the Clos des Morogues. Approximately 3600 bottles per annum are set aside for our use in the US market.
Gilbert-Menetou-Salon-ROUGE Menetou-Salon Rouge: Hand-harvested Pinot Noir undergoes a maceration of three weeks at which point it is racked into conical-shaped barrels to pass its malolactic fermentation and spend eighteen months in elevage on the fine lees before bottling. We import approximately 3600 bottles for the USA.
Menetou-Salon Rouge “Hors-Série”: “Hors-Série”—which translates roughly to “special-issue”—comes from a parcel of Pinot Noir planted in 1980 by Philippe’s father. Fermentation and aging occur in a large 90-hectoliter tronconic cask, with no sulfur added at all during the elevage (20 milligrams per liter are added just prior to bottling); neither fining nor filtration are employed. If the “35 Rangs” below showcases the depth Pinot Noir can achieve in this appellation, “Hors-Série” presents the dizzying heights: lifted, luminous red fruits, exuberant spice (this was vinified with 50% whole clusters), and sizzling, cleansing acidity make for a remarkably kinetic drinking experience. Only 25 cases are available for the US market.
Menetou-Salon Rouge “35 Rangs”: “35 Rangs” is produced from 35 rows of Pinot Noir planted by Philippe’s grandfather in the early 1960s in the iron-laced Kimmeridgian soils of the Champaloin vineyard. He employs 40-50% whole clusters in the vinification, which lends the wine an upper register of savory spices that beautifully complements its ripe, tangy cherry fruit. Aged for 18 months in well-worn 600-liter barrels, the 2015 “35 Rangs” offers surprising depth for a Pinot Noir from this zone, with rippling energy that speaks of ultra-healthy fruit, and enough lurking power to suggest at least a decade more of upside in the cellar. Only 20 cases are available for the US market.
Gilbert-Menetou-Salon-Blanc-Renardieres Menetou-Salon Blanc Les Renardieres: This white is produced from the oldest vines of the estate planted in the Les Treilles vineyard in Parassy. After fermentation, the wine is racked into barrels of varying sizes (228 liters to 500 liters) for about ten months of elevage in barrel; then, the wine is assembled to rest another eight months in stainless steel vats before bottling.
Gilbert-Menetou-Salon-Rouge-Renardieres Menetou-Salon Rouge Les Renardieres: The Pinot Noir for this wine is sourced from the oldest vines on the estate, found in the Les Treilles vineyard in Parassy. After the fermentation, the wine is racked into barrels of varying sizes for one year of elevage on the fine lees; then, the red is assembled and left in stainless steel vats to finish its aging for an additional year. Thus, two years after harvest, this prestige cuvée of red is bottled without filtration.

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