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Robin Garr

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Wine Focus March 2010: The Loire

by Robin Garr » Mon Mar 01, 2010 12:16 pm

Our focus expands to cover the entire Loire region of France this month: White or red, dry, molleux or sweet, from Sancerre all the way downstream to Muscadet. Bring on your Loire notes, travel stories and questions ... Wine Focus for March is open to them all.
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Matt Richman

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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by Matt Richman » Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:24 pm

I've just set off on a personal journey to learn more about the wines from this region so this month's Wine Focus couldn't come at a better time for me. I have very little experience with these wines and am very eager to learn. From what I have seen so far there are very good wines available for very fair prices.

Here is my note from last night's bottle:

2007 Yannick Amirault Bourgueil La Coudraye (France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Bourgueil)
Really nice. Full flavored fruit with a tight acidic bite and a suave, classy burnt oak profile. Some green herbal notes and a compact acidic finish with a hint of flowers. Overall very pretty and enjoyable, full of class. This is a wine I would drink all the time for this price.
B/B-
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by Salil » Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:35 pm

Reposting notes from a flight of wines at a dinner I attended last month. The dinner and wine choices were focused around a theme of ungrafted vines, and this flight of Loire Cab Francs was one of the general favourites. I've really become a fan of anything Baudry, and the Franc de pied wines are amazing (the '07 was one of the most graceful, silky wines I've had, and the older versions this evening were knockouts). Looking forward to also drinking an '02 FdP from Joguet later this month.

2007 Catherine et Pierre Breton Bourgueil Franc de Pied
Smells like the vegetable section of the supermarket with lots of green pepper, tastes better than it smells though with tart red fruits, black peppercorns and green herbal notes over a lightweight frame with really bright acids.
2002 Catherine et Pierre Breton Bourgueil Franc de Pied
Corked.

2005 Charles Joguet Chinon Cabernet Franc de Pied Les Varennes du Grand Clos
Tightly coiled at first, but really expands with some air to show dark fruits and faintly herbal, stemmy notes that add freshness over a core of earth and stones with a great texture that's all silk up front and then changes to something more gritty and chewy on the back end.

2002 Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Franc de Pied
Knockout aromatics and a wine I'd have loved to just sit down and explore over an evening, with a seamless combination of fruit, leafy/tobacco notes and the start of developed leathery flavours on a silken frame. Delicious.
2003 Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Franc de Pied
The '03 is much riper and darker in its flavour profile, slightly denser and richer in texture than the other two with lovely tobacco and earthy accents to the dark fruit, but what's really amazing here is that it shows the same sense of lightness and the same low (12.5%) alcohol as the other Baudrys regardless of the vintage.
2005 Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Franc de Pied
The '05 is a tad on the green side (though nowhere near as much as the Breton), still quite pleasant with bright fruit and only a faint suggestion of green pepper. Tasty, though perhaps overwhelmed a touch by the really awesome '03 and '02 beside it.
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Mar 01, 2010 2:39 pm

Matt and others. Chris Kissick and Amirault.......>

http://www.thewinedoctor.com/loire/amirault.shtml


Here are my impressions of an `07 Cab Franc from Ch de la Roulerie.......>

WTN: `07 Chateau de la Roulerie Anjou Rouge, Phillipe Germaine.

$25 Cdn, 12.5% alc, good natural cork, slightly chilled, 100% Cab Franc, no oak.
This domaine is going places, they also have some property in Bordeaux. All wines are priced very reasonably I think. So-so vintage, wine purchased for this months exercise (I would have got one regardless!).

Color. Very light ruby-red w. thin watery strawberry rim.

Nose. Raspberry, red berries, some violets. Fellow taster found the smoky/sooty character Jim Budd refers to. Not a very open nose, glassware was good.

Palate. Initial entry thoughts were off-dry, soft tannins, good acidity. Not too serious a wine here, good mouthfeel on finish, some pepper. "Cranberry...not at all green" from across the table. Medium-bodied, most should like this one, pleasing to drink. Would not age more than a couple of years. Think I will try again in 6 months?


***** Wonder when we will see the first Musky note!
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by Tim York » Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:16 pm

Before plunging into my WTNs, I think that it would be useful to provide a brief overview of the Loire valley region. Although the source of la Loire is river quite far south of the main wines growing regions, the Loire valley is taken by wine-lovers to mean the area extending from Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire in the centre of France to the sea round Nantes; it takes in wines grown along certain tributaries like le Cher, la Vienne and le Loir. Without measuring it, I guess that the distance from Nantes to Sancerre is roughly 500 km so the region is far from homogeneous in soil types, in climate and consequently in its wines. The most common themes in Loire wines due to their northerly latitude are lively/crisp acidity, fresh fruit, vegetable and mineral flavours varying with the different terroirs and grapes.

The main distinctive wine regions within this overall area are three.

1. The Oceanic Region (Le Pays Nantais), close to the mouth of la Loire, where the most famous wine is the crisp white Muscadet made from the grape Melon de Bourgogne. Most of the best Muscadets enjoy the appellation Muscadet Sèvre et Maine. It is generally drunk when young and fresh with seafood but certain examples, e.g. from Luneau-Papin, age very well acquiring complexity. Other wines are grown in the area, including some from Chardonnay and Gamay, but I have never had any of much interest.

2. The Heartland (L’Anjou, Le Saumurois, La Touraine) is the real hunting ground of Loire-heads. IMO the whites from Chenin blanc, dry, demi-sec and sweet, are up with the very best in the world. The Cabernet franc based reds often have real class and elegance but rarely the weight of their more important and expensive cousins from Bordeaux and Burgundy. The best appellations are –
For Chenin: Savennières (mainly dry), Coteaux du Layon (sweet), Coteaux de l’Aubance (sweet), Vouvray and Montlouis (sweet, demi-sec and dry), Jasnières and Saumur. There are also some good bubblies with the appellations Crémant de Loire, Saumur Mousseux and Vouvray.
For Cabernet franc: Samur-Champigny, Chinon, Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil. Good but more rustic CabFranc can also be found in the Anjou and Anjou-Villages appellations.

Alongside these two local aristocrats, Gamay gives good results in both Anjou and Touraine, Sauvignon blanc makes some nice and inexpensive wines, sometimes blended, in Touranine, Pineau d’Aunis has its firm fans and interesting blends are made including Malbec (known here as Cot).

3. The Eastern region (Les Vignobles du Centre) where Sauvignon blanc is king and where some very nice reds and pinks are made from Pinot Noir. The most famous appellations are Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé but there are very good and similar but less expensive wines made in Menetou-Salon, Reuilly and Quincy. With all due deference to New Zealand and Pessac-Léognan, some would argue that the finest dry expressions of Sauvignon blanc are found here.

And now for WTNs on two Loire wines which I drank last week. Both come from what I describe as the heartland about 25km only from each other though Saumur is in Anjou and Chinon in Touraine.

Saumur L’Insolite 2006 – Domaine des Roches Neuves, Thierry Germain – Alc.13% - (€14,30), made from Chenin blanc. After reading Chis Kissack’s note on the 2007 http://www.thewinedoctor.com/weekend/ro ... te07.shtml which reinforced my memories of this 2006 at a tasting about 18 months ago, I was expecting more than I got.

The nose was very subdued with hardly any fruit and floral component but with a lot of attractively gravelly minerality. The palate was medium/light in weight with good length, great purity like spring water, crisp acidity and again fine minerality but with not much flesh and with only a little fruit (apple and citrus) beginning to peep though towards the end of the bottle. I think that the wine may be going through a closed phase; furthermore the rather ingratiating scampi dish was not an ideal pairing for such crispness and later on even the Selles-sur-Cher goat cheese, usually a winner with Chenin, did not get it singing. So it was a refreshing and invigorating drop probably needing more time for full expression and complexity; 15/20++ now with +++? potential.

Chinon Clos de la Dioterie 1996 – Charles Joguet – Alc. 12.5% - (€24 for 2006). Joguet has been the subject of a lot of criticism. Many connoisseurs claim that they went through an off period from the early 90s to 2002 and, in addition, disciples of Davis complain about a lot of brett at the estate (the new management is trying to eliminate this; pity IMO). Most people agree that Dioterie and Chêne Vert were often wonderful up to 1990 but I don’t think that this 1996 was much, if at all, inferior.

Colour was a limpid and quite light garnet. The nose was wonderfully delicate with a floral essence of red fruit (a lot of raspberry) mixed with some wet leather and hints of Darjeeling tea and minerals. The palate was medium bodied at most and beautifully harmonious and classically shaped with gentle crescendo towards the decently long and well supported finish; acidity was still fresh and mouth-watering (but not astringent like with a lot of 96) and some primary fruit was still present mixed with secondary nuances all enhancing the same aromas as on the nose. There was a welcome absence of parasite wood notes (no new oak used). Lovely 17.5/20.

Warning for the brett phobic; those wet leather notes may disqualify this for you.
Last edited by Tim York on Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:25 pm

Thanks Tim, that is a great write-up. Chris Kissick, watch out!

This months Focus will give me a chance to open up some `02s purchased in London last March. The `02 Doiterie from Joquet is one of them.

I hope we see some Sancerre TNs this month.
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by David M. Bueker » Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:52 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:I hope we see some Sancerre TNs this month.


Aw Bob, why ruin a good topic. :wink:

I am looking forward to a reason to open some Chenin, hopefully with some accompanying mild, spring-like weather.
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by Tim York » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:05 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:This months Focus will give me a chance to open up some `02s purchased in London last March. The `02 Doiterie from Joquet is one of them.



Bob, although I am keen to know what you think in the face of Chris' view that 02 was still "off" at Joguet (I have some or is it Chêne Vert?), you should bear in mind that the 02 may not be yet at its peak (I haven't yet opened mine). If you have several bottles, it's fun to plot the evolution, but if not....
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by Keith M » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:06 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:I am looking forward to a reason to open some Chenin, hopefully with some accompanying mild, spring-like weather.

Looking forward to reading some chenin notes--the 2004 Savennières I just finished (and posted on elsewhere) was memorably stunning--chenin indeed can be shockingly delicious.

And I recently had my first menu pineau--pretty interesting stuff!
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by David Creighton » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:32 pm

last may i stumbled onto the annual Sancerre regional wine tasting at the cave just outside the town. this year it is held on may 22 and 23. anyone want to meet me there? they divide it up by village - Bue, Chavignol, etc. reds, whites and roses are all available and it looks like nearly everyone contributes their wines - though not all are there personally. in a few cases you can buy the wines; but mostly not - though you can easily go to the producers place of business later and do so.
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by Rahsaan » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:35 pm

Tim York wrote:you should bear in mind that the 02 may not be yet at its peak (I haven't yet opened mine). If you have several bottles, it's fun to plot the evolution, but if not....


I agree. Some 2002 bottlings can be tough right now and will only be better in the future. I had a 2002 Baudry Grezeaux a few months ago that showed well, but young. If I were smarter I probably wouldn't open my only bottle of 2002 Baudry Croix Boissee, but I want to drink it so I'll open it.
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by David Creighton » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:42 pm

re the amirault that matt mentioned. i also read the wine doctor piece on amirault. i had this same bottle about 10 days ago. it was pretty frustrating reading all this wonderful stuff by the wine doctor and others; and then open the bottle and find .........BRETT! i do believe there is a good wine under that barnyard; but too far under for me.
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by David Creighton » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:54 pm

nice timing on the loire thing. just finished making a batch of Rillauds and had to try a couple with a glass of dom. des aubuisieres cuvee silex vouvray '08. great combo and a really lovely wine. got to get more of this. probably it is sec tendre; but really it seems pretty dry. lots of fruit - clean. screw cap!
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:32 pm

Tim York wrote:
Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:This months Focus will give me a chance to open up some `02s purchased in London last March. The `02 Doiterie from Joquet is one of them.



Bob, although I am keen to know what you think in the face of Chris' view that 02 was still "off" at Joguet (I have some or is it Chêne Vert?), you should bear in mind that the 02 may not be yet at its peak (I haven't yet opened mine). If you have several bottles, it's fun to plot the evolution, but if not....


Oh dearie me. There goes that idea! Only have the one bottle Tim.
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by Matt Richman » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:52 pm

2008 Couly-Dutheil Chinon Les Chanteaux White (France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Chinon)
Bright and clear with bracing steely acidity, lemon, and a touch of honeysuckle. A beautiful, clean, expansive wine with a very long lemony finish. Really really nice.
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:02 am

Tim, Salil...talk about being right on the ball. Look here Baudry update and wines not even bottled yet...>

http://www.thewinedoctor.com/tastingsfo ... 2010.shtml
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by Salil » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:49 am

Looks like I may have a few nice things to buy in the next couple of vintages. (Chambers cannot reload soon enough on the Baudry.)

No notes on the Franc de Pied though. Wonder if it wasn't shown, or if there's no more (as I heard some of the Baudry FdP vines got hit by phylloxera again).
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by Oswaldo Costa » Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:30 am

2007 Clos de Tue Boeuf Touraine Gamay 11.5%
Stupide plastic cork. Bottleneck showed church spices and cooked banana. Glass showed stemmy cherries, raspberries, bramble and church spices. No sign of banana, cooked or otherwise (funny how sometimes the bottlenck differs from the glass; I'm sure Riedel can explain). Pleasant acidity, light final bitterness, both very pleasing. Yummy fruit, good balance, very fine. The fun of gamay without a trace of vulgarity. Viva Puzelat.
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by David M. Bueker » Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:35 am

Oswaldo,

Do you find Gamay generally vulgar? If so, in what way?
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by Oswaldo Costa » Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:33 am

David M. Bueker wrote:Oswaldo,

Do you find Gamay generally vulgar? If so, in what way?


The ones I tend to drink seldom are, but I think there's something vulgar about the frothy fun, cotton candy sucking up done by most of the ones out there, the ones Eric Texier refers to as carbonic fruit salads (most Nouveau to many negociant Villages).
"I went on a rigorous diet that eliminated alcohol, fat and sugar. In two weeks, I lost 14 days." Tim Maia, Brazilian singer-songwriter.
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by David Lole » Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:48 am

I will make a special trip to the cellar this week and dig out some of my older Chenin's to see how they are traveling and report back to the forum in due course. Good to be back here.
Cheers,

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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by David M. Bueker » Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:58 am

Oswaldo Costa wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote:Oswaldo,

Do you find Gamay generally vulgar? If so, in what way?


The ones I tend to drink seldom are, but I think there's something vulgar about the frothy fun, cotton candy sucking up done by most of the ones out there, the ones Eric Texier refers to as carbonic fruit salads (most Nouveau to many negociant Villages).


Perhaps so, but those wines are generally not meant for folks like us.
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by Matt Richman » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:39 pm

Bob Parsons asked me if I would cellar the Amirault that I wrote a WTN on above.

My reply:

Most of my experience is with bigger, more structured wines (mostly Bordeaux) and their ability to age or not feels like second nature to me. This wine was a little different, as it had much less tannic structure than I'm used to and seemed more structured on the acidic balance. That said, I think this wine would benefit from a few years of bottle age and I think it would drink well for 10 years after that.

Anyone with more experience on this please feel free to chime in.

Oh, by the way I do plan on laying down a few bottles, so I guess time will tell.
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Re: Wine Focus: The Loire

by Matt Richman » Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:35 pm

Can someone profile recent vintages in the region?
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