Les Errances - Quand Fond La Neige 2021

We drink a bottle of Quand fond la neige, où va le blanc 2021 by Les Errances, a Chenin Blanc from the Loire.

Where does the white go when the snow melts? Or rather “Quand fond la neige, où va le blanc” as the wine is fully called. The question is attributed to Shakespeare, but one cannot be entirely certain. And frankly, I find it too philosophical for today or any other day of the week. Both where the white disappears to and who supposedly asked that. Back in school, due to lack of motivation, summaries from somewhere on the internet had to suffice regularly. I can’t recall ever having read any literature in full. Sorry to the teachers. Somehow, it’s probably a good thing there weren’t chatbots like ChatGPT back then. I would have been even lazier. The real art nerds could now also interpret whether the dots around the eyes on the label are snow and what’s actually happening there at all. I’m content with finding it quite beautiful. Only the eyes, they’re a bit creepy. Ultimately, what’s in the bottle is much more important than what’s written on it anyway. Chenin Blanc it is in this one, from the Loire. I’m really into that at the moment, and perhaps, it gets a bit philosophical here, sometimes I wonder if it’s because Chenin, like Riesling, can range from bone dry to very sweet and works even with bubbles. And whether subconsciously I actually just need a Riesling substitute. But today, this question can remain unanswered as well. Also, Chenin Blanc and Riesling are very different in their aromatic profiles.

Warren and Maïté Perrocheau have only been making wine under the name Les Errances since 2017 in the Loire region. Initially with purchased grapes, now also with their own vineyards. They cultivate just over 5 hectares around Rablay-sur-Layon, south of the Loire. The vineyards had already been farmed organically for many years and they will continue to do so. The Chenin Blanc vines here are planted in various schist soils. Yes, schist, like Riesling from the Moselle. No, it really isn’t any subconscious replacement for Riesling. Absolutely not. The grapes undergo spontaneous fermentation, are aged in wooden barrels, and the wine is then bottled with as little added sulfur as possible.

The wine is intense and fresh on the nose. There’s reduction and there’s orchard fruit and quince. Okay, quince is somehow orchard fruit too, but quince really doesn’t get much love. One reason why we planted a quince tree last year, and that in turn might be why I really like this wild orchard fruit nose. There’s reduction, stone, and a lot of structure, even more so when drinking than just smelling. Lime juice, freshly squeezed onto the tongue, and stone. This could also be a Sour, purely from what’s happening on the palate. There’s a lot of tension and pull, and at the same time, something like sweetness and honey on the nose, but then again intercepted by structure and minerality.

On the second evening, it initially feels sweeter. The reduction disappears completely at first. More honey and more apple than quince, and also a good portion of natural funk. Anyone expecting the increased sweetness to transfer to the palate will quickly be proven wrong. There’s nothing sweet there at all. There’s still a lot of lime juice. And this contrast between honey and apple on the nose and citrus fruit on the palate is really enjoyable. The reduction then returns over the course of the evening, the wine becomes slightly leaner, spicier, and more stony on the nose. The juiciness simply remains. Although this has happened for the umpteenth time now, I find joy in it every single time. Observing the development of something that ultimately is just fermented grapes over more than one evening in the glass. That’s simply exciting. And also seeing what it does to oneself. Except getting drunk, of course. How one night, you’re completely hooked, and the next day, you might find the identical wine utterly boring. Or how your own taste can celebrate something for months only to move on. At the moment, however, my taste is really celebrating this. A lot. Let’s see where it goes next.

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