La Grange Tiphaine was created at the end of the 19th century by Alfonse Delecheneau, followed by three generations: Adrien, Jackie and now, Damien. Damien studied oenology and viticulture in Bordeaux and worked at wineries in California and South Africa, and returned to the winery in 2002 to take over the operations there. He brings a level of scientific precision to natural winemaking that we haven’t seen in many others. The design of the winery and the steps he takes to ensure quality rival some of the most technically advanced wineries in the world, but this is all in the name of using as few additives as possible, to evoke their precious terroir in its purest sense.
As of 2008 Coralie, Damien’s wife, joined the family as a fully active partner in the life and work of their 15-hectare vineyard. Damien’s talent as a winemaker is evident from the multitude of beautifully balanced, elegant, precise red, white, rosé and sparkling wines that he crafts from five different varieties: Chenin blanc, Côt (Malbec), Gamay, Cabernet Franc, and even the ancient and rare Loire variety called, Grolleau. The wines are in the AOCs of Touraine Amboise and Montlouis sur Loire.
In 2016, Damien was honored to take the lead in Montlouis, becoming president of the appellation. He followed in one of his idol’s footsteps, François Chidaine.
Generally speaking, Damien and Coralie have one parcel of Chenin Blanc vines. All the viticulture is certified organic. The difference between most of their Chenin Blanc wines comes primarily from when they pick the grapes. One of the things that makes Chenin Blanc more difficult than other grapes to work with is the fact that it ripens very unevenly. Damien will usually make three or four different picks in these vines, looking just for the bunches that are ripe that day. Each pick will become a wine, normally the first pick would be for the sparkling Nouveau Nez, the second for the Clef de Sol blanc and the last pick may contain some botrytized grapes, destined for a sweeter wine.
The 2018 Clef de Sol blanc comes from 80+ year old vines in clay and flint soils resting on limestone. The Chenin Blanc is hand harvested and sorted, destemmed, and pressed to 400 liter neutral oak barrels, where it ferments spontaneously and then rests on its lees for about 12 months. The wine is bottled with a light filtration and a small addition of sulfur.
Beautiful pale golden yellow. Notes of honeysuckle with pear and lime. Taste is dry with just a hint of sweetness, finishes beautifully with fruit and acidity.