Bainbridge & Cathcart La Danseuse
La Danseuse is made by an Englishman named Toby Bainbridge. He and his wife Julie live in a quaint village near Angers, the western center of the Loire Valley. I had heard about Toby's work and set out to visit him last April. We hit it off immediately and I returned to see him again six months later. Toby's wines are burned into my mind (and my palate) and I'm so thrilled to have them a part of our lineup.
Toby kicked off his winery business about 6 years ago by purchasing just a few hectares of old-vine Grolleau and Cabernet Franc. His winery is, shall we say, simple. He rents an old machine shed from a neighbor and makes only three different wines. Some of his tanks are wrapped in wool blankets and he makes use of all kinds of gadgets and tools to get his work done. There's nothing fancy here.
When we met last Spring, Toby disgorged a bottle of sparkling rosé for me. It had been resting comfortably in his winery since the prior October, bottled immediately after harvest. (photo) We stood right there and drank the whole dang thing and I asked to buy every drop he had. Unfortunately that added up to only 300 bottles, and here's why:
Toby's first export market was Denmark. He sold the guy some wine and dutifully headed to Copenhagen to "work the market" and try to make some placements at restaurants. Their first visit, this was five years ago, was at the famous NOMA, Rene Redzepi's gastronomic mecca feautring 20 course meals and generally considered among the top 5 restaurants in the world. Evidently the sommelier tasted the wine, loved it, and proceeded to buy it all. Done deal. Sales day complete. Since then NOMA has been a big regular supporter.
But then we came along, and asked for the same thing! Toby agreed to sell us some bottles, and well, here it is.
Okay, enough of this. What is it? Well, this is pink, finely bubbled, naturally-bottled Methode Ancestrale Grolleau Noir (a local grape) that is heady, gorgeous, and downright wonderful. La Danseuse translates to "The Dancer" in French, but the labelling is a little more tawdry than that. La Danseuse can also refer to the barrel of wine that a vigneron would put aside for his mistress (in days past of course!).