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. The wines are all different; tender or round, fine or fruit filled, dry or sweet, but they all share the common thread of careful work in the vines that make for beautifully balanced, terroir driven, precise wines.
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, and has since led the charge to use helicopters to avert frost damage that has been rampant in the Loire Valley over the past several years. At least in 2017, they were very pleased to completely stop the frost damage and save all the grapes in the Montlouis appellation.
Generally speaking, Damien and Coralie have one parcel of Chenin Blanc vines. 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.
Vinification note: A natural sparkling Chenin Blanc bottled before the end of fermentation. Nothing added!
-Jenny & Francois