Le Rocher des Violettes - Great value Loire

…the most exciting was Xavier Weisskopf, of Le Rocher des Violettes. His wines, crystal-pure, vibrant, pithy and long, were revelations. CHRIS KISSACK, thewinedoctor.com

Xavier Weisskopf is one of the rising stars of Montlouis, and at the top of the new generation in the Loire. Weisskopf founded Le Rocher des Violettes in 2005 after studying winemaking in Chablis and Beaune, earning his degree in viticulture and oenology, and a stint working for Louis Barruol at famed Gigondas producer Château de Saint Cosme. He acquired nine hectares of very old vines in Montlouis (many dating to the early 20th century) to make Chenin Blanc and converted them in 2009 to certified organic. Now based in the town of Dierre, Weisskopf has 16 hectares that include small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Côt, Chardonnay and Grolleau. JASON WILSON, vinous.com

… Across the river from Vouvray, the tiny appellation of Montlouis has been home to one of the most amazing and exciting wine revivals of modern France, and at least three Montlouis growers – Blot, Chidaine, and Xavier Weisskopf (of Rocher des Violettes) – are challenging the local qualitative pre-eminence of Vouvray…DAVID SCHILDKNECHT, wineadvocate.com



Montlouis and Vouvray sit supreme as makers of blindingly beautiful chenin blanc within the eastern part of the Loire Valley. They’re neighbours, facing off with each other on either side of the Loire River – Vouvray on the right bank, Montlouis on the left. Both share chalky soils and the local ‘tuffeau’ limestone found only in this area contributing to the whip cracking and stinging intensity great mineral-laden chenin creates. Both have sunlit slopes that have been carved out over eons from rivers leaving their mark, and it’s on these sunniest sites where chenin thrives.

The two areas are so similar that Montlouis could once label their wines as Vouvray. But these days they are two definitive regions, and for the best.

While Vouvray has historical significance with its hallowed turf, times are changing. Montlouis is a lot smaller than Vouvray, and is home to small high quality-minded producers, Schildknecht highlights three; ‘Blot, Chidaine and and Xavier Weisskopf (of Rocher des Violettes). Many of these are choosing to farm organically (just under 40%) and are really pushing the dry styles of chenin. While Vouvray has rested on its laurels for a little too long and is controlled mainly by a few large players who have shunned organics – just 5% (there are a few exceptions of course including the holy grail Huet).

It’s early days for us but we’re damn excited by the first few shipments of Rocher des Violettes. Winemaker and owner, Xavier Weisskopf was labelled a wunderkind. Having studied and worked in Burgundy and beyond, he’s brought the minutia of detail to Montlouis, delineating plots of like-minded vines and executing them with purity and precision. Chris Kissack sums the style up nicely, ‘His wines, crystal-pure, vibrant, pithy and long, were revelations.’

His arrival into Montlouis was perfectly timed, allowing him to buy nine hectares of sacred old vines (mostly planted pre-WWII) in 2005. He converted the farming to certified organics, cherishing the intensity and purity of these old vines. In the cellar, work doesn’t obfuscate these expressions, but instead champions them to ensure the laser precision and granular detail is captured in the bottle.

These offer x-ray visions of chenin from single vineyard plots, if there is a better value producer so skilled and capturing the nuance of chenin then please let me know – I don’t think there is. It’s hard not to compare these wines to Chidaine as both winemakers share the same dogged determination both in the vineyard and winery to capture their sites – but the top wine at Rocher Violettes is $90 (at full retail markup). While they’re comparative in brilliance they differ in pricepoint.

To the wines, the sparkling (petillant) is excellent. There has been a big push in the Montlouis to make better sparklings (new laws have been introduced) – they have the chalky soils, cool climate and chenin’s sine of acidity. It offers decadent notes of brioche, honeysuckle and button mushrooms. Compared to Champagne it offers more immediacy and upfront charm.

For the dry wines, Touche Mitan is your bankable cellar-worthy chenin that never skis a beat. Its cooler origins (its name translates to touch of mittens) and flint and clay soils defies the odds, it’s rammed with flavour yet so graceful and lithely in expression. We have two vintages on offer – 2020 offers more breadth and ripeness while the 2021 is laser-like in its delivery and needs to be tucked away. As Chris Kissack  says, ’Substance and concentration are packed within a body that’s only slightly more than light.’  

Le Grand Clos is their leading dry white and personifies elegance without forsaking power. Rebecca Gibb MW says this about a previous vintage, ‘It’s as if a symphony orchestra has been playing pianissimo and then they’ve come to a collective pause, holding its bows and breath before releasing the tension and easing into the next lyrical passage.’ Its formidable structure and concentration set this up for a long life ahead.

For an off-dry style reach for Les Bordieres. Notes of jasmine, apple pie and crushed rocks on the nose lead into a subtle sweetness without heaviness. Chalky minerality and quince-like phenolics punctuate the flow nicely on this endearing style.

For indulgent and decadent sweetness Le Grand Poirier Molleaux soars to great heights on the enjoyment factor. Hailing from 65-year-old vines it marries earthy notes of saffron with heady aromas of baked peach and tarte tatin. It’s exquisite without being cloying or overly sweet.

Lastly, there is one red made from Cot (their local name for malbec). Weisskopf’s fastidious nature ensures this walks the line between upfront deliciousness and cellar-demanding structure – choose your own adventure.

It’s a very small domaine, Xavier is a drop in the ocean therefore we don’t have a lot of these beauties. But what we do have is hand on heart delicious and incredible value (I had to check the prices twice to make sure I hadn’t made it mistake they are so value-laden!).