Saturday was Bourgueil’s annual Fête des Vins right in the centre of Tours. They camp in wooden huts along the central alley of the Boulevard Heurteloup, just a stone’s throw from Tours main railway station, associated bus terminal and the tramway – also close to the Hotel de Ville.
This edition was the 14th. It was the late Jean Germain, mayor of Tours and from Bourgueil, who was the impetus behind establishing this very successful fête. His successor as mayor – Serge Babary – was present for the official opening on Saturday showing his continued support for Bourgueil’s fête.
Serge Babary well wrapped up against the chill of Saturday morning
Although rather courageously held in mid-March the weather is generally reasonably clement, although it was decidedly chilly early on Saturday before the sun came out. It was notable that most producers served their wines at room temperature i.e. freezing, while a few savvy ones, like Jacky Blot, brought hairdryers to warm their wines and so soften the tannins.
Like VitiLoire, held here in the centre of Tours at the end of May, the Fête des Vins de Bourgueil is a real success, an excellent shop window for the wines – attracting crowds of winelovers, particularly during the afternoon. It attracts a significant number of people in their 20s. With prices for Bourgueil starting at around 5€ and with two promising vintages – 2014 and 2015 – it is not surprising that many of the 41 producers present were doing a brisk trade in selling their wines.
I fancy that, like 1989 and 1990/1995 and 1996/2009 and 2010, there may well be a long running debate over the relative merits of 2014 and 2015. Certainly many 2014 Cabernet Francs from Chinon, Bourgueil, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Saumur and Saumur-Champigny are currently showing very well with fine concentration of ripe Loire fruit and lovely balance, although without the richness of very sunny years like 2005 and 2009. This recalls that it was the excellent September 2014 that saved the vintage after a poor July and August.
With few of the 2015s in bottle it is still too early to be sure of the character of this vintage and impressions vary from vigneron to vigneron. To date it has plenty of charm but a little less concentration than found in the 2014s. Although much of the summer was very dry, there was rain towards the end of August and then in mid-September a period of very heavy, torrential rain. The weather station at Tours recorded 87.6mm for September – well above the average of 53.2mm. Almost all of this rain fell between 12th and 16th, only 7.2mm fell outside this five day period. There were places that recorded considerably more rain – over 100mm during the five days.
2015 Cabernet Franc
Although the Cabernet Franc withstood this onslaught remarkably well with no rot developing – greatly assisted by the sun and wind that followed the downpour – there must have been some dilution. Not necessarily a bad thing given the very dry summer. Whatever the relative merits of 2014 and 2015 the Loire has two good vintages to sell.
Among the producers, who impressed me on Saturday were: Domaine Ansodelles (especially 2014 Conversation), Domaine de la Chevalerie (especially 2014 Dyptique and 2011 Bretêche), Nau Frères (2014 Vieilles Vignes), Yannick Amirault (especially 2013 Le Grand Clos – impressive for such a difficult vintage), Domaine Menard (especially 2014 Les Jardins des Raisin), Jacky Blot (especially 2014 Pied de la Butte, 2014 Haut de la Butte – both sold out), Domaine Dubois (especially 2014 Vieilles Vignes), Aurélien Revillot (especially 2013 Les Aubuis – success in a difficult vintage, 2014 Sur les Hauts), Nathalie Omasson (especially 2014 Vieilles Vignes – great value at 5€), Laurent Herlin (2014 Terre d’Adoption), Lamé Delisle Boucard (especially 2015 Cuvée des Chesnaies, 2014 Vieilles Vignes, 2011 Prestige), Audebert (especially 2011 Les Marquises), Domaine des Ouches (especially 2012 Les Clos Boireaux) and Domaine de Petit Bondieu (especially 2014 Petit Mont – showed much better than in a tasting September 2014, 2014 Les Couplets).
Armand de Tilly – les pattes du vigneron …..