Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

Le génie de la Loire

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In honour of Bastille Day (because these beauties could only have come from France), notes from a recent tasting of Loire wines chosen by Sam with a connoisseur’s eye. Most were private imports, a few were importations valise and, as far as I know, none are currently available in Quebec.

PRELUDE

Vouvray 2008, Brut, Méthode traditionnel, Philippe Foreau (Clos Naudin)
100% Chenin Blanc. 13% ABV. The 2011 can be found at the SAQ for $30.
Limpid gold. Tiny bubbles and not tons of them. Yellow fruit, lemon blossom and toast against a chalky background. Dry and minerally with a nipping acidity and effervescence. Long, toasted brioche finish. Impeccable.

FLIGHT 1

Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine 2010, Clisson, Domaine de la Pépière
100% Melon de Bourgogne. The estate is represented in Quebec by Vinealis.
Closed nose: faint lemon, pear and chalk. Dry, extracted and dimensional. Trenchant acidity. As much about minerals as fruit. Long, saline finish. Great presence. Austere bordering on severe but oh, so pure and beautiful. My wine of the flight.

Sancerre 2001, Clos de Beaujeu, Gérard Boulay
100% Sauvignon Blanc. 12.5% ABV. Represented in Quebec by Rézin.
Intriguing bouquet: overripe white peach, crystalline minerals and, as one taster noted, a suggestion of mushroom. Dry. Minerally more than fruity – faint citrus and gun smoke. A not off-putting acrid note surfaces on the long finish. Tasting double-blind, I didn’t peg this as either a Sauvignon Blanc or – due to its vibrancy and tension – a 12-year-old wine.

Saumur 2009, La Charpentrie, Domaine du Collier
100% old-vine Chenin Blanc. 13% ABV. Represented in Quebec by oenopole.
Rich nose: peach and some tropical fruit, honey, sour white flowers. Silky and rich with a touch of residual sugar. Brisk acidity provides welcome cut, faint herbs and chalky minerals welcome complexity. Immaculate, authentic and delicious though not particularly deep, at least at this point in its probably long life.

FLIGHT 2

Bourgueil 1993, Busardières, Domaine de la Chevalerie
100% biodynamically farmed Cabernet Franc. 12.5% ABV. Represented in Quebec by La QV.
Delicate but complex: ash, spice, ripe but not jammy boysenberry, humus and hummus, slate and stems. Smooth and supple with fully resolved, velvety tannins and bright acidity. Seemed a bit thin next to the Chinon. On its own, however, complete and surprisingly vibrant at 20 years of age.

Chinon 2005, Domaine Les Roches (Alain and Jérome Lenoir)
100% Cabernet Franc. 12.5% ABV. Represented in Quebec by Glou. This bottle cost around $25.
Initially closed, the nose became more complex and perfumed over the course of the evening. Elderberry liqueur, floral overtones, a hint of meat, some old wood and the faintest note of bacon and new leather. Concentrated, even chewy, yet silky and not heavy. Layers of rich fruit and dark minerals structured by fine, firm tannins and energizing acidity. Long, lightly astringent finish. Superb. My wine of the flight and Cab Franc of the night.

Saumur-Champigny 2008, Clos Rougeard
100% Cabernet Franc. 12.5% ABV. Last I heard, the estate was represented in Quebec by Réserve & Sélection.
Darker, meatier with a hint of fresh tomato, background slate, sawed wood. Tighter than a drum: structured more than fruity and the élevage is showing. You can see that the wine is perfectly proportioned, that the fruit is pure, ripe and deep, that the use of the barrel is masterful. You can also see that the wine needs – at a minimum – another decade to open up. Tasted 24 hours later, the tail end of the bottle had hardly budged.

FLIGHT 3

Chinon 2009, Coteau de Noiré, Philippe Alliet
100% Cabernet Franc. 13% ABV. Represented in Quebec by Le Maître de Chai. The 2010 is sold at the SAQ Signature for $46.
Young, unresolved nose: choco-cherry, sawed wood, dill, ash. Smooth, dapper, restrained. Fine albeit tight tannins. The clean, ripe fruit – showing some tobacco but not a hint of greenness – is deepened by dark minerals and subtle wood. A delicate astringency velvets the long finish. Good potential. Revisit in five years.

Saumur 2009, La Charpentrie, Domaine du Collier
100% Cabernet Franc. 13% ABV. Represented in Quebec by oenopole.
Plummy (a sign of the hot vintage?) and slatey. Round, rich and balanced. The tannins and acidity are fruit-cloaked but there’s plenty of underlying structure. Lightly yet pervasively astringent. The élevage shows on the long finish. While its potential is obvious, this is another case of a bottle too young.

Chinon 2009, La Croix Boisée, Domaine Bernard Baudry
100% Cabernet Franc, aged in barrel, not filtered or fined. 13.5% ABV. Represented in Quebec by Balthazard.
So closed on the nose: wood, wet slate and not much else. Closed on the palate, too. Ripe, even liqueurish fruit, old wood, minerals. Sleek tannins. Rich, complete and in need of time, much time.

POSTLUDE

Vouvray moelleux 1986, Clos du Bourg, Domaine Huet
100% biodynamically farmed Chenin Blanc. 12% ABV. The 2007 runs $50.50 at the SAQ.
Amazing nose: dried pear, wax, straw, honey, turbinado sugar… Intense on the palate yet also elegant, reserved and nuanced. Neither dry nor sweet. Brilliant acidity. Chewing reveals all kinds of complexity. Spice, chalk, quartz, caramel, candied pineapple are only some of the flavours. A crème brûlée note lingers through the long finish. Astonishingly young and fresh. Wine of the tasting for most people around the table.

Côteaux du Loir 2009, Les Giroflées, Domaine Bellivière
A 100% biodynamically farmed Pineau d’Aunis rosé. 13.5% ABV. Represented in Quebec by Le Maître de Chai but I’m not sure they bring this wine in (our bottle was purchased at Flatiron Wines and Spirits in New York City).
Strawberry, wax, quartz on the nose. Smooth and quaffable. Off-dry. A basket of fresh berry fruit with just enough acidity and a touch of peppery spice. Simple but charming. Flavourwise, it made a fine pairing for pâte sucrée bars filled with a thin layer of pastry cream and topped with fresh raspberries and a rhubarb marshmallow, though in the best of all possible worlds the pastries would have been a little less sweet.

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