Almost to the day a year on after our very successful visit by Les 5 du Vin to Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, I have just spent a very agreeable weekend in Bourgueil. This time the occasion was the Salon des Vins d’Ici, which also included Les Vins du Coin and Les Angevins. In all 66 producers were expected but as there were a few no-shows, this came down to around 60.
The Salon was held in Les Halles in the centre of the town and was organised by Pierre Breton, who sensibly limited each vigneron to showing just three wines. In all I spent just under six hours tasting – managing to get round almost all the producers.
My most pleasant surprise was the marked improvement in the quality of the wines from Jean-Christophe Garnier. I tasted his 2011 La Roche Bézignon – 100% Chenin. Although it has some oxidative notes and hint of a sherry style was much cleaner and precise than Garnier’s wines that I have tasted in the past. My impression from the Salon des Vins d’Ici as well as this year’s RAW and Real Wine Fairs in London is that, at least in the Loire, there are now substantially fewer off-the-wall undrinkable wines in the natural wine movement.
Ex-wine journalist Fiona Beeston was showing the 2011, her first vintage from Le Clos des Capucins in Chinon. This small Clos lies just to the west of the château de Chinon. Fiona bought it from Baudry-Dutour who had purchased it when they bought several parcels of vines in Saint-Louans, the western suburb of Chinon. Initially Christophe Baudry and Jean-Martin Dutour planned to turn the building associated with the Clos into a visitors’ centre. However, once they had acquired Château de la Grille, they decided to develop this site instead and dispose of the Clos.
Fiona is delighted with her vineyard and has sought the advice of Charles Joguet. Many years ago, Charles was one of the producers she profiled in The Wine Men. Charles has assured Fiona that Le Clos des Capucins is an excellent terroir and that she can’t go wrong. The 2011 is richly textured. At the moment the finish is quite tight and probably needs another couple of years in bottle to soften. She also has an easy drinking 2012 Chinon from a hectare of vines to the north of Chinon that Pascal Lambert sold her. The cuvée is called ‘Fiona’s perfectly drinkable wine’, named after a favourite expression of her father’s.
A number of other 2012 reds I tasted showed bright red fruits and quite marked acidity.
I wrapped up my tasting with Eddy and Mileine Oosterlinck (Domaine Juchepie) finishing with their voluptuous and fine 2008 Passion Coteaux du Layon Faye d’Anjou – an impressive result from quite a difficult vintage. I was not at all surprised that they told me they made no sweet wine in 2012 – « only some dry wine and a little bit of red ». Clearly Faye d’Anjou does not enjoy the same miraculous microclimate found in that part of the Quarts de Chaume owned by Domaine des Baumard!
Of course I stayed at the Café de la Promenade, where the vignerons celebrated the conclusion of their Salon well into the early hours of Monday.