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MWG September 13th tasting: report (2/3)

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Clau de Nell, a relatively young estate in the Anjou region of the Loire Valley, was acquired in the early naughts by Anne-Claude Leflaive from high-profile Domaine Leflaive in Puligny-Montrachet. The estate is now organic and biodynamic. The new regime’s first wines sold were from the 2009 vintage. Only three reds are made, though some Chenin Blanc has reportedly been planted. The vineyards are worked by horse. Harvesting is manual and the fruit is sorted on a grape-by-grape basis. A manual press is used. Fermentations are natural (indigenous yeasts and no temperature control). The wines are barrel aged for 18 to 24 months before being bottled (with miniscule doses of sulphur dioxide). Nearly the entire production is exported.

In Quebec, the wines are sold exclusively at the two SAQ Signature outlets, and at this point, five or six weeks after their release, only the Quebec City store still has all three. Note, however, that Signature will deliver purchases to any Quebec address free of charge.

VDP de la Loire 2010, Grolleau, Clau de Nell ($33.00, 11818203)
100% Grolleau. Considered an inferior grape by local authorities, Grolleau is not permitted in Anjou AOC wines (except rosés), which is why this is classified as a vin de pays. 13.5% ABV.
To the nose and palate, obviously different from the two Cabernets. Blackberry leaf and cassis morphing into blueberry pie and gaining a rose note. Smooth and velvety texture. Simple but pure and fruity with brightening acidity, tannins well in the background and a scent of black pepper on the finish. An affable, quaffable bumpkin, probably my favourite of the trio. (Buy again? Yes.)

Anjou 2010, Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon, Clau de Nell ($32.00, 11818182)
A 50–50 blend of the two Cabernets. 13.5% ABV.
Red fruit, graphite, green bell pepper, spice and eventually ash. After a rocky start, it smoothed out. Supple and round though with a more delineated, Bordeaux-like structure that allowed several tasters to peg it as the Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Despite the green streak, the fruit is ripe and pure, buoyed by just enough acidity and grounded by the mineral/earthy substrate. Long finish. In short, a fine example of a Loire Cabernet blend that will only benefit from a few years in the cellar. (Buy again? Possibly.)

Anjou 2010, Cabernet Franc, Clau de Nell ($32.00, 11818174)
100% Cabernet Franc. 13.5% ABV.
Red cherry, green pepper, ash and hints of tobacco and violet. Medium-bodied yet the spicy fruit has a real density, with chewy tannins and refreshing acidity carrying it into the slate and green tobacco finish. Lingering impression of fluidity and opulence, not unlike a good Burgundy. Modern and polished but not overwrought. This, too, is a good candidate for medium-term aging. (Buy again? Yes.)

The wines were double-decanted about an hour before serving. We tasted them on their own and then with a couple of dry sausages and killer mustard from Le comptoir charcuteries et vins and excellent sliceable rillettes from Gourmet Laurier of all places. Not surprisingly, the charcuterie worked best with the Grolleau; something like a medium to medium-rare lamb roast or, in a couple of years, a guinea hen roasted on a bed of potatoes would be a more worthy pairing for the Cabernets.

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Written by carswell

October 20, 2012 at 13:15

2 Responses

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  1. […] included cornichons, pickled fennel and Le Comptoir’s irresistible cumin “mustard,” though the quality of the salumi was so high they seemed unnecessary, like gilt for a […]

  2. […] Coup de Canon. A few years in the cellar may improve things but who knows? While I’ve enjoyed earlier vintages, this is not what I’m looking for in a Grolleau. (Buy again? […]


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