One of our somewhat recent regular group tasting events was held over dinner at Kathy’s house, with a very loose theme of Loire wines. It was a small group of 6, so we were able to spend a good bit of time with each wine and try them with a variety of foods.
2011 Thirot Sancerre Le Haut Venoize. This wine features a crunchy and bright-toned nose loaded with aromas of gooseberry, lime, grapefruit, grass, chalk and minerals. In the mouth, it’s vibrant, fresh and tangy with flavors of grapefruit, lime, pineapple and minerals. This is a crisp and zesty wine that is loaded with life and ready to go.
2002 Foreau Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Sec. Of the three Chenins tasted this evening, this one has the most penetrating and high-toned aromatic profile—featuring intense yet gently sweet aromas of mango, kumquat, peach, yellow raisin, toasted nuts and chalk dust. In the mouth, it is both sweet and tart, with bright and high-toned layers of yellow fruit and copper-tinged minerality on the attack yielding to fleshier layers of flavor through the generous and giving mid-palate. For all that’s going on here, it still seems quite focused and well-balanced. I really enjoy this wine.
2002 Domaine des Baumard Savennières. This is much paler in color than the other two Chenins, and presents a much flintier and more metallic edge to the aromas of grapefruit, peach, apple, herbs and lemon pepper. In the mouth, it is surprisingly more rounded and soft-edged than the crisp nose would lead one to expect. It has a squeaky, waxen feel to it on the tongue, but the apple, pear and white peach flavors still seem fine and clean. The finish is not quite as dry in tone as with the ’95 Trie Speciale, but overall it isn’t nearly as expressive as that wine, either. Still, it is a pretty good drink.
1995 Domaine des Baumard Savennières Trie Spéciale. This somewhat golden-colored wine features very appealing aromatic layers of apricots, peach pits, dark honey, bruised apples, blanched nuts, wet stones, and wooly linens that are full and giving yet classy and distinctive. It is fleshy and relatively full-bodied on the palate, and is definitely dishing out a lot of flavor intensity right now. There’s a fair bit of power and push to the flavors of pear, peach, steel and copper and a fine vein of underlying acidity, as well. The finish is getting to be a bit austere, but the wine still doles out plenty of very nice pleasure.
2005 Domaine de Château Gaillard Saumur. This wine is wonderfully aromatic—giving up loads of tobacco leaf, dried sweat, horsehide, barnyard scrabble, black cherry, black currant and limestone aromas that are a bit wild and rustic but otherwise almost Bordelaise in nature. In the mouth, it’s juicy and vibrant, with purple fruit flavors supported by accents of menthol, tobacco and leather. It seems very fresh throughout, with a stony, earthy finish that brings it all together. This was a great showing and my WOTN.
2006 Catherine et Pierre Breton Chinon Beaumont. This wine presents a more deeply purple-fruited tone on the nose, with some creosote, wrought iron, herb and fireplace ember underpinnings that are smoky, brooding and almost primordial at times. In the mouth, it is rather structured--with a leaner, more sinewed and slinky profile than the Gaillard Saumur. It feels cool, dark and slightly chewy, with some light tannins making themselves known right from the start. There are solid ingredients here, but it just doesn’t show much in the way of nuance right now, especially on the drying finish. I’d give this a few more years in the cellar, for sure.
2009 Charles Joguet Chinon Cuvée Terroir. Although we are clearly drinking this too young, it’s still managing to show some interesting aromatic notes of black raspberries, cranberries, dark smoke, olives, rubber band and lavender that at times are a bit candied and at other times rather earthy. In the mouth, it features fresh berry flavors that are fairly primary but driven by solid acidic underpinnings and fine-grained tannins. It needs some time to come together, really.
2005 Couly-Dutheil Chinon Crescendo Clos de l'Echo. Oh boy, this wine features a very saturated nose that just coats the nostrils and nasal recesses with dark, dense aromas of blackberry, tobacco, eucalyptus, lava rock and chalk dust that just get better and better the longer you stay with it. In the mouth, it is very serious stuff that is packed tight with cool, muscled black and purple fruit flavors on a rock solid structural framework and supported by an earthy, tannic underpinning. This is a real long-distance runner that will require more patience. The nose is so delightful, but I just wish the palate were more approachable right now. I’d check in again on this impressive specimen in about 5 years or so.
1999 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume. The color here is a light yellow, and the aromas are similarly on the light side. To me, it smells of peaches, light honey, sweet corn, beeswax and mixed flowers. In the mouth, it is kind of light and lilting, with a gentle sweetness to the peach, apricot and flowery elements. It goes down easy, with a soft and elegant finish. It’s not one of the more profound QdC’s I’ve had, but it is fairly persistent and pleasing.
1995 Château Soucherie Coteaux du Layon-Beaulieu Cuvée de la Tour. This wine (served from a 500 ml bottle) pours into the glass with a fairly dark orange, iced tea sort of color to it. It has a nice little wild and exotic streak to the appealing aromas of cooked apricot, toasted orange peel, crème brulee topping, butterscotch candy, vanilla bean paste, honey and lilac. It is funky-sweet and exotically spiced in the mouth, delivering a nice languid stream of orange liqueur, butterscotch, baked apricot and baking spice flavors that are a lot of fun to drink. It’s more interesting and more unctuously-styled than the Baumard, and is a great topper to cap off the evening.