Communal Merchants

Importers of Passionately Crafted Beverages

 
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LAURENT LEBLED
Loire, France

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When Laurent Lebled found himself out of a job after 30+ years as a wood merchant, wine wasn't exactly the first thing on his mind. The 2008 recession had hit hard, and without any other prospects in the wood industry, it looked like he was flat out of luck. Fortunately, two childhood friends would help him find a new path in a direction he never would have expected.

Those two friends are Sébastien Bobinet and Patrick Corbineau. Sébastien quit his job in 2003 after inheriting 2 hectares of vines from his grandfather, and Patrick's story is quite similar: quitting his job at the Chinon power-plant after inheriting vines from his grandfather. Despite Lebled not coming from a wine family, having no vineyards to inherit and having never spent a day working in vines or a cellar, Sébastien insisted that becoming a vigneron would be a good fit for him. Laurent was reticent, but Sébastien promised he would show him how to do everything. It seemed like a long-shot, but Laurent took the plunge by assisting Bobinet through 2009.

The first step to founding the estate came in finding some vines and a cellar. Laurent had always been a fan of the Touraine AOC, and through friends was able to find 1.7 hectares of vines and a cellar to rent in the commune of Saint-Aignan. Shortly after the contract for the vines was signed, the proprietor of the cellar backed out, forcing Laurent to improvise. On very short notice, he was able to find a chai in Savigny-en-Véron, over an hour away from the vines in Saint-Aignan. Though far from ideal, Laurent moved things forward by renting an additional .5 hectares of Cabernet Franc on sandy soils right by his newly acquired cellar and continuing to rent the Saint-Aignan land.

Laurent now fully helms the operation, producing sulfur-free, carbonically macerated reds. One noteworthy particularity is that he lets his macerations go a full 30 days (a "typical" full carbonic maceration lasts 12 to 15 days), instilling the wines with rusticity often lacking in many of the fruity carbonic gulpers made in the same style.

- Jules Dressner

 
 

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Ça C’est Bon!

Soil: Clay and Limestone
Grape: Gamay
Vinification: Whole-clusters in small crates are placed in concrete tanks, where an extended 30 day carbonic maceration occurs before pressing and racking to fiberglass. No sulfur is added to the wine at any point.

Juicy, gulpable Gamay made with carbonic maceration, which also has plenty of length. Some of this length comes from the rocky soils that the Gamay vines grow in and further complexity is the result of the carefully selected (selection massale) vines that were planted in 1950 and 1970 and are therefore at the peak of their maturity.

12 x 750mL bottles/case


 
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On Est Su l’Sable

Soil: Sand and Clay
Grape: Cabernet Franc
Vinification: Whole-clusters in small crates are placed in concrete tanks, where an extended 30 day carbonic maceration occurs before pressing and racking to fiberglass. No sulfur is added to the wine at any point.

This wine is made from Cabernet Franc grapes that have been grown in a sandy vineyard near Chinon.

It has none of the harsh aspects that Cabernet Franc can display in the wrong hands. Laurent understands this grape well and coaxes a suppleness, fruitiness and juiciness from this grape to make this fine, gulpable wines.

The grapes are harvested manually in small crates. The grapes then undergo carbonic maceration for up to 30 days in cement tanks. The grapes are then pressed in a screw press before completing the fermentation in large fibreglass tanks. The wine is neither fined nor filtered. The wine is light enough to accompany chicken or quail or a range of charcuterie while being complex enough to pair with grilled meats.

12 x 750mL bottles/case