Friday, 22 January 2010

An enjoyable evening of Loire and Loir wines

Once again, it has been a while since I posted - over a week, as it turns out. So my apolgies to all who tune in on a regular basis (and the stats tell me that more and more people are starting to follow this blog) - I will try to do better in future!

This is a report on a really rather enjoyable tasting of wines from La Loire and its sub region of Le Loir. As is usual for these events, the organiser produces a tasting sheet for us to follow. Unfortunately (as is also often the case) the information provided on the wines tends to be rather rudimentary, to the point where one even has to fill in the gaps on the names, growers, etc. And woe betide anyone that holds onto the bottle for more than a few seconds as it is passed around, in order to fill in those gaps! Hence, some of the details are a little lacking, notably as to the grower(s) on wines 1, 13 and 14. I'm sure they were produced by someone - I just don't know who, at the moment. So if anybody who was there can let me know, I would appreciate it. Prices, where shown, are what presenter Andy Grainger paid, either at the cellar door, or from UK merchants. So to the wines (and apologies for the poor quality of the photo - taken on my mobile phone, since I forgot my camera).........

This week's line-up of wines, with presenter Andy Grainger on the right
and a rather stern looking Stephen Freeland on the left (he's not scary - honest!)

1. Domaine Gigou(?) sparkling Blanc de Blancs Coteaux du Loir - €8.00
Dark gold colour - several years bottle age, perhaps? Wet dog, mineral, talc and citrus on the nose - in other words, classic Chenin Blanc. Palate is rich, full and flavoursome, and agreeably rustic. Lovely acidity and grip. Fairly simple, but delicious.

2. Domaine Gigou Domaine de la Charrière Cuveé du Paradis Jasnieres 2004 - €7.00
Quite perfumed and floral, with hints of menthol, cider apple, quince, cream. The palate is tart cider, lemon, mineral, but the finish is long and even slightly warming, but it is beautifully balanced. Really nice wine.

3. Domaine Gigou Domaine de la Charriere Clos St Jacques Jasnieres 2004 - €8.00
Emulsion paint and menthol, minerals and herbs. Sounds unappetising, but it is actually anything but! This was sent round as a pair with 3a (below) and the difference was quite marked. They both had a distinct tartness on the palate, but this was rich, briny and savoury and very long. Already lovely, but with lots structure and some real scope for ageing. A delicious wine!

3a. Domaine Gigou Domaine de la Charriere Clos St. Jacques Jasnieres 2006
Emulsion and menthol again, butless expressive and complex than the 2004, with notes of rotting apples being the main theme. And the palate is like biting into a very small, very unripe apple, but very light and seemingly simple. It may develop and fill out, but I doubt it.

4. Domaine du Closel La Jalousie Savennieres 2006 - €10.00
This smells like a red wine to me, with some or other red fruit aromas lurking amongst the apples and spices and a touch of caramel. It is fairly rich and long, and perhaps even a touch warm. An enjoyable wine, but atypical.

5. J F Mériau Coeur de Roche Sauvignon Blanc Vielles Vignes Touraine 2004 - €12.00
Hints of reduction and gunflint, well-judged oak, citrus and mineral. This wine has definitely been given the treatment, but it is very well done - but not at all typical of Sauvignon. Rich and honeyed and - as a super cuvée - it definitely works. I like it.

6. Bernard Baudry La Croix Boisée Chinon Blanc 2006 - £12.00
Smells of lime oil, herbs and stone - intensely zippy nose, and with some interesting vegetable/legume notes. Very complex stuff, although undoubtedly some way off from maturity. The palate has apples and quince, and a distinct mandarin note. The citrus/orange quality and the sheer complexity of this wine lifts it above the crowd.  superb wine.

7. Domaine Gigou Coteaux du Loir 2005 Pineau d’Aunis - €6
Smells to me like Beaujolais Nouveau - and tastes like it. Others disagreed, but I'm sticking with that view, since those same people didn't get the red notes in wine number 4, and I certainly wasn't mistaken twice! The bitter-sweet palate was far too obvious and sickly for me. All spangles and flowers and not much to endear it to me.

8. Domaine Gigou, Coteaux du Loir 2006, Pineau d’Aunis - €6
This is more like it! Softer, leaner and lighter that the 2005, but beautifully tart and zingy, without any of the bitterness. Like an ultra-light Bourgogne Rouge from a good vintage. A year or two ago, I wouldn't have enjoyed this sort of wine. But now I do!

9. Domaine de la Chevalerie Peu Muleau Bourgueil 2007 - £10
"Cow's feet", exclaimed Mr Bennett, from the opposite corner of the room. I'm not sure what he was on, but it must have been mind-expanding! Light and soft, with decent balance, though little in the way of tannin. A decent enough wine, but ultimately lacking interest.

10. Domaine de la Chevalerie, La Chevalerie Bourgoueil 2006 - £11.50
This was rich, ripe, balanced, but doesn't really set the world on fireTo me, the acidity seemed unnatural (in a citric sort of way). I have a couple of bottles of this tucked away - I think I'll leave them for a few years, to see if they develop into anything interesting - though I won't be holding my breath.

11. Bernard Baudry Les Grezaux Chinon 2005 - £15.00
Smells of rye bread or perhaps granary, with notes of cedar/old oak, orange, tobacco and bramble. The palate is fruity, but rich, in a slightly fruit-cake sort of way, with absolutely no greenness. Ripe, balanced and complex. A modern wine, but the acceptable face of modern winemaking. Most of us were impressed - including me.

12. Charles Joguet Clos du Chêne Vert Chinon 2001 - £10.00
Hints of brett peeping out from behind the cherry and orange peel aromas. A slight volatile acidity, together with notes of lilies and bramble might have me thinking of an "Hermitaged" Bordeaux. I didn't write too much of a note on this, because I was far too busy enjoying it. A lovely wine. Who would have guessed it could be 100% Cabernet Franc!

12a. Pierre Jacques Druet Clos de Danzay Chinon 1996
Volatile acidity and varnish galore. Quite tannic, austere, oaky. Cedar and pencil lead. In other words, not an awful lot of fruit. Nice acidity, but lacks body and depth, though it is quite enjoyable, in an austere sort of way. Needs food.

13. Jasnières Demi-sec Selection de Grains Nobles 2002 - €14.00
Smells like Jurancon with a generous splash of Calvados, with a similar sort of taste. Slightly cheesy, sweaty and seemingly very mature for its age, with a touch of tartness giving lift. Tangy, so I imagine it would be even better with some cheese or paté. Nice.

14. Vouvray Moelleux, ?Vendanges Manuelle 1989 - £5.00(ish)
Savoury and even more cheesy, but tangy. Not so much moelleux as demi-sec, to my palate, as it is fairly light-bodied, with cracking acidity. Again, would really go well with some cheese. At 20+ years old, this is aged to perfection, and really lovely.

15. Prince Poniatowski Aigle Blanc Vin de Tris Vouvray 1989 - £10.00
A lovely nose that you could sniff and savour until the cows come home. Wet dog/wool, lemon and lime marmalade, herbs. Complex stuff. Amazingly tight and focused for such a mature wine. Again, more demi-sec than totally sweet, with cracking acidity and plenty of depth. Yum!

15a. Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Moelleux 1989 Foreau
This really does smell sweet and honeyed, like a true moelleux. Again cheesy and sweaty (it might not sound attractive, but it is meant to!), with notes of orange, gloss paint and clarified butter. Complex stuff, though with a touch less acidity than the Poniatowski. A nice way to finish the evening.

My overall impression (and I think most of us were in agreement) is that, although a couple of the reds were really very good, the whites were more successful and consistently good. And although it is of course possible to get bad sweet wines in the Loire, the ones we tasted were all lovely.

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