Those who have read by earlier TNs on Loire Chenin will know that I often find it a remarkable pairing with Touraine goat cheese. These three Chenins below were no exception and in every case the cheese brought out extra fascinating facets in the wine compared with the already very satisfactory fish dishes which preceded.
What was interesting was that I was able to compare the behaviour of the Chidaine Montlouis with that of the Léoville Las Cases which I had drunk the previous evening against the same goat cheeses, Sainte-Maure, Pouligny Saint-Pierre and Selles-sur-Cher. I sometimes rant against the widespread convention of automatically serving fine red with any cheese but have regarded goat cheeses as usually a more neutral match. However, the Léoville was undoubtedly diminished by them compared with its performance with the preceding rare marbled beef; it seemed shorter and its aromas were blunted. It was not, however, an unpleasant disaster as it might have been with a ripe Camembert. By contrast the Chidaine Montlouis revealed enhanced minerality as well as new honeyed hints and seemed even longer.
Vouvray Les Perruches demi-sec 1995 – Domaine de Clos Naudin, Philippe Foreau – Alc.12.3%. This was a lovely demi-sec with light golden colour, a well developed bouquet marked by quince and minerals and hints of wax and its medium/full body underpinned by gently sweet “gras” showed complex flavours of white fruit and minerals with lively acidity and good length. Excellent 17/20+ but it didn’t efface memories of a superb 1996.
Montlouis Clos Habert demi-sec 2001 – François Chidaine – was an interesting comparison with the Vouvray. Colour was lighter, there were fewer quince touches and it was slightly leaner and more linear in shape with less apparent sugar, more marked minerality, mouth-watering acidity and fine length. This was even more to my taste than the Vouvray. Excellent 17.5/20.
Saumur L’Insolite 2008 – Domaine des Roches Neuves, Thierry Germain – Alc.13%. This was a brilliant bon-dry Chenin with great purity, fine focus, crisp acidity, stony minerality and an underlying “gras” which made it a suitable pairing for fish in sauce. Excellent 17/20.
Château Phélan-Ségur - Saint-Estèphe 1996 – X. Gardinier & fils – Alc.12.5%. I described a bottle of this a year ago as a model bourgeois claret and wrote a rave TN. This one by seem undernourished, acidic and bitter on the finish by comparison. It was still enjoyable but I wonder whether there was not a touch of subliminal TCA. Just good 15/20.
Château Léoville Las Cases - Saint-Julien 2ème grand cru classé - 1993 – Alc.12.5%. I seem to have a weakness for “off” vintages. When I last opened a bottle of this in 2006, I wrote –
The nose was classical Médoc with subtle fruit combined cigar box and pencil shavings. The palate was very linear and harmonious with a discreet attack broadening in the mouth to a climax at the end of the palate followed by a gentle decrescendo; aromas were similar to those on the nose. The wine had put on flesh but had retained its class and just enough of its green notes and austerity to remind me that this was claret and not an imitation of Napa valley. A lovely bottle; 17.5/20.
Remarkably for such a vintage, the wine has not changed much. The texture was slightly darker and there were more secondary notes of forest floor and old book but there was still is plenty of life in it. Excellent 17.5/20.