The commune of Leynes and its old four-story Château de Lavernette are right at the crossroads of Beaujolais and the Mâconnais. Down across the road from the château to the east, grows a Chardonnay vineyard in limestone soil for its crémant and Beaujolais Blanc. Up on the broad slope just southwest of the château grows Gamay in granite soil for its two red Beaujolais and where this marvelous “Blanc de Noir” is sourced.
The château has been passed down through the Lavernette family since 1596, when Philibert Bernard de Lavernette bought the property from the monks of Tournus. Documents from 1684 inventory two wine presses and four large vats on the property, but no doubt vineyards and wine making were part of Lavernette’s makeup long before this. Early in the twentieth century, René de Boissieu married Gabriëlle Bernard de Lavernette, the heiress of Lavernette, and the property passed to the de Boissieu family. The twin shields on the Lavernette labels represent the families’ coats of arms.
René was the grandfather of Bertrand de Boissieu who, with his Dutch wife Anke, had been the director of Lavernette. Bertrand and Anke were the first in the Beaujolais region to farm according to the ecological principles of lutte raisonnée, or reasoned fight, a pragmatic approach to organic farming that was, in their younger days, a radical thing in France. Beginning in 2006, their son Xavier, with his American wife Kerrie, took this one step further by converting the château’s 28 acres of vineyards to biodynamic farming. Certification came in 2010.
This is an outstanding sparkling wine creation of Xavier and Kerrie, who traveled to Champagne to meet with growers such as Egly-Ouriet, Agrapart, Larmandier Bernier and others for advice before starting this project. The grapes come from the estate Gamay vines growing on granite soils. The wine, a méthode champenoise, is made in-house exactly like the crémant. Anyone who may think that Gamay has no business in Champagne method wines needs to take a look at the Aube, where as much as 40% of the vineyard surface was planted to Gamay prior to World War II.
Off the Gamay skins almost immediately so there is only the slightest “Oeil-de-Perdrix” (“eye of the partridge”) tint. Super high energy, plethora of long beads and tiny bubbles to tickle your nose. Very brisk and pristine. Citrus zest and crisp green apple. Extended finish. We love with smoked fish or sashimi, and in particular Uni. Such a fine value to find!