Frédéric Mabileau is famous in his region for producing stylish, reliable and affordable wines.
Christelle Guibert, Decanter Magazine
We had a thoroughly rewarding trip to ProWein earlier this year, much of it spent catching up with members of the CellarHand family, plus a chance to fruitfully follow up on promising conversations with other excellent growers who’ve since joined the fold.
The one unexpected find was delightful domaine in the Loire. Frédéric Mabileau is an organic-certified, biodynamic grower based in Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil. Run by Frédéric and Nathalie Mabileau, with son Rémi also working in the business, the family’s winegrowing history goes back to 1620. Inspired by his father Jean-Paul Mabileau, Frédéric kicked off his own project in 1988 when he planted his vines on a parcel called Rouillères, owned by Nathalie -a name now given to the estate’s entry level Anjou Chenin Blanc and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Cabernet Franc. When Jean-Paul retired in 2003, Frédéric and Nathalie combined two domaines into one. Frédéric immediately took stock of the vineyard holdings, embarking on a painstaking study of the terroirs before establishing his own range of wines. Today they own 28 hectares across the Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil, Bourgueil, Saumur and Anjou appellations.
2017 Frédéric Mabileau Chenin des Rouillères Anjou RRP $46
Chenin Blanc from a 0.53-hectare plot of sand and gravel over a layer of white clay. The 10-year-old, single guyot-trellised vines are harvested by hand, with a yield of 25hl/ha. The bunches are slowly pressed and the must fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts at low temperatures. This sees no oak, lees stirring or fining, for a wine of energy, tension and purity.
2016 Frédéric Mabileau ‘Les Rouillères’ Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil RRP $46
It was with les Rouillères that it all began, the St Nicolas cuvée par excellence: light, fruity and full of finesse. This wine epitomises everything that this unique terroir offers in terms of purity, freshness and pleasure. The fruit comes from vines with an average age of 38 years, planted on gravelly sand soils and hand-harvested at 27hl/ha. Fully destemmed and sorted on a table before a pre-ferment cold soak. Fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel, without pigeage but regularly pumped over. The wine spends four months in stainless steel and is naturally cold stabilised. It’s racked twice prior to bottling.
2015 Frédéric Mabileau ‘Les Racines’ Bourgueil RRP $58
The parcel is situated in the Bourgueil appellation, in Chouzé-sur-Loire, very close to the river. It was Frédéric’s grandfather who planted these vines more than 45 years ago in the “Champs Colesse” lieu-dit, and that’s why the wine is named “racines”, meaning “roots”. The fruit comes from 46-year-old vines on a two-hectare plot on clay and gravel. Hand harvested with a yield of 35hl/ha, then destemmed and sorted on a table. Given a pre-ferment cold soak before fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless steel, which entails 18 days on skins. Malolactic conversion and maturation for 18 months in 3- and 4-year old French oak demi-muids.
2015 Frédéric Mabileau Pineau d’Aunis ‘Sans Les Mains’ RRP $46
This is described as Nathalie’s coup de coeur, a juicy, slurpable red made from the rare Loire red grape Pineau d’Aunis. Hand harvested grapes are destemmed and sorted on a table before fermentation in a concrete egg. All up it’s on skins for 10 days before spending 10 months in a 16-hectolitre concrete egg. The name ‘Sans Les Mains’ refers the fact that it’s so easy to drink; you could lap it up with no hands.