Friday and Saturday I enjoyed two good days tasting Loire wines. On Friday morning I joined the press trip based around the Concours National des Crémants for a tasting of Crémants de Loire. I had the pleasure of being with fellow 5 – the ebullient Hervé, who was on excellent form. However, a word of warning, never sit close to Hervé during a tasting of sparkling wines as he is prone to both knock over glass as well as releasing a stream of fizz over his neighbouring tasters.
In the morning we tasted just short of 20 Crémants de Loire mainly from the established houses like Ackerman, Bouvet Ladubay, Gratien & Meyer and Langlois-Chateau with very few from small independent producers. These were my preferred Crémants: Bouvet-Ladubay – Rosé (100% Cabernet Franc); Louis de Grenelle – Blanc de Noirs (100% Cabernet Franc); Lacheteau (part of Grands Chais de France) – Blanc de Noir (100% Cabernet Franc) and Blanc (70% Chenin, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Chardonnay); Langlois-Chateau – 2007 Quadrille Extra Brut (50% Chenin, 30% Chardonnay, 15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Pinot Noir), Domaine Michaud (small independent producer in Noyers-sur-Cher) – Blanc (50% Chardonnay, 10% Chenin, 40% Cabernet/Pinot Noir) and Monmousseau (now part of Ackerman) – Blanc (45% Chenin, 20% Chardonnay, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Pinot Noir).
Some of the wines shown still suffered from too high a dosage, which is a pity as often the fruit in the Loire is ripe enough to allow a reduced dosage or none at all.
Held over the last weekend in May VitiLoire is the largest annual Loire consumer wine fair and is always worth visiting. This – the 13th edition – was no exception with a great atmosphere. The 158 producers and the between 35,000 – 40,000 visitors over the weekend were lucky with the weather virtually no rain. Furthermore nicely temperate and not fiercely hot as it has been some years the conditions were ideal for tasting.
As usual I tasted some wines from producers I know well and some that I haven’t tasted before.
I made sure that I went to Eric Santier’s stand. Eric took over the Domaine Dozon in September 2013. He chose to only purchase the 14-ha Saut au Loup , which is to the south west of the small village of Ligré on the south-side of the Vienne. Eric didn’t take up the other six hectares closer to Ligré that the Dozens had on fermage. I liked his 2014 Cuvée du Plaisir with its juicy fruit – drinkable now it will benefit from a few months in bottle. It will be interesting to taste the other cuvées once they are in bottle.
I was pleased to have tasted with Laurent Saget at the Domaine des Grands Espérances stand. This estate, in Touraine-Mesland, used to be called be called Domaine d’Artois and was bought by Laurent’s father Jean-Louis Saget in the late 1980s. By the first decade of this millennium the plan was to get rid of the estate as Touraine wines are difficult to sell. However, Laurent and his brother, Arnaud, believed that the Touraine had potential. So they took over the estate, renamed it with 2010 being their first vintage with the new approach.
Next time I am in Sancerre I aim to visit Laurent Saget and get myself up to date with developments.
Storm brewing in Vouvray
Two of the leading Vouvray producers – François Chidaine and Jacky Blot (Domaine de la Taille aux Loups), who have the majority of their vines in Montlouis just across the Loire, may well be unable to use the Vouvray appellation unless they vinify their wines within the aire of the Vouvray or in the derogation area of Nazelles-Négron. Jacky Blot has no facilities for vinification in Vouvray, while François Chidaine does apparently have some limited facilities at the Clos Baudouin. However, François now has a new modern winery in Husseau, which is naturally much better equipped.
François has recently been elected président de la Fédération des Associations Viticoles d’Indre-et-Loire et de la Sarthe.
1° Aire géographique :
La récolte des raisins, la vinification, l’élaboration et l’élevage des vins tranquilles, la récolte des raisins, la vinification, l’élaboration, l’élevage et le conditionnement des vins mousseux et pétillants sont assurés sur le territoire des communes suivantes du département d’Indre-et-Loire : Chançay, Noizay, Parçay-Meslay, Reugny, Rochecorbon, Tours-Sainte-Radegonde, Vernou-sur-Brenne, Vouvray.’
L’aire de proximité immédiate, définie par dérogation pour la vinification, l’élaboration et l’élevage des vins tranquilles et la vinification, l’élaboration, l’élevage et le conditionnement des vins mousseux et pétillants, est constituée par une partie du territoire de la commune de Nazelles-Négron du département d’Indre-et-Loire (partie du territoire au nord de la route départementale n° 1 et à l’ouest de la route départementale n° 75).’
‘2° Aire de proximité immédiate :
A titre transitoire, la vinification, l’élaboration et l’élevage des vins tranquilles peuvent être assurés jusqu’à la récolte 2013 incluse sur le territoire de la commune du département d’Indre-et-Loire de Montlouis-sur-Loire.’
Since there was a special dérogation introduced for Nazelles-Négron, it seems odd that there wasn’t a similar permanent dérogation for Montlouis as both Chidaine and Blot had vines in Vouvray when the current décret passed into law. Jacky Blot has vinified 14 vintages of his Vouvray at Montlouis, while François Chidaine bought the Clos Baudoin in 2001.
Furthermore the 2011 décret allows very little time – just two years – for producers based in Montlouis to make alternative arrangements even if that was practical.
Neither Jacky Blot nor François Chidaine have any real need to put AC Vouvray on their labels in order to sell their wines. It is their reputations as top quality producers that counts. Should François and Jacky chose to label them as Vin de France or AOP Singes they would still sell their wines with no problem.
This latest affair has echoes with that of Pomerol where limitations on where Pomerol could be made were judged by the Conseil d’Etat, France’s Supreme Court, too restrictive and two recent décrets were annulled. See here with an explanation of the case and its issues from AX10Juris here.
One of the key issues in the Pomerol case was the distance from the vineyards to the vinification facilities because of the concern of possible oxidation of the grapes if there was a long delay between the grapes being picked and arriving at the winery.
This issue may yet play a role here. It is 20.9 kilometres by road from the furtherest point west at the gates of Tours of the Vouvray appellation – the Abbaye Marmoutier to Nazelles-Négron, the furtherest point east where it is permitted to vinify Vouvray. From Chidaine’s Clos Baudoin in Vouvray it is 11 kilometres to his new winery in Husseau, which is part of the commune of Vouvray. It is a little further from Blot’s Vouvray vineyards: 18 kilometres from Le Clos de Venise to his vinification facilities, which are also in Husseau.