Jacky Blot in one of his barrel cellars: September 2019
Domaine de la Taille aux Loups
Last Wednesday we spent much of the morning tasting with Jacky Blot at the Domaine de la Taille aux Loups. Although it was primarily an opportunity to taste the 2019 vintage we also tasted the 2018 and a few other earlier vintages at the end.
Jacky is a very firm believer in dry Chenin Blanc without any residual sugar. He regards many Vouvray ‘Secs’ or Sec-Tendre’ as outmoded due to recent vintages being earlier and riper than in the past, so that one can have a perfectly dry Chenin without rasping acidity. With the recent warmer and earlier vintages Jacky stresses that it is crucial to pick at exactly the right time. « In September you only have a short window of opportunity to pick to get the right balance of ripeness and acidity as the grapes’ maturity changes rapidly, so the vendange has to be done at top speed. Whereas if you are picking in October the cycle of maturity is slower so the timing isn’t so crucial giving you more time to pick. 13% potential is the ideal. »
It was fascinating tasting the 2018s alongside the 2019, which with the exception of Rémus, which has recently been bottled, are still in barrel some with a little residual sugar to be consumed. Jacky is convinced that 2019 is a great white vintage, despite the heat spikes in late June/early July and then in late July when temperatures hit 40˚C. Indeed the the freshness and balance of the 2019s along with the comfortable yield despite the summer drought that lasted well into September. In contrast he is critical of 2018 – too rich, lacking freshness and precision. One probable explanation for the greater freshness and balance in 2019 is that the nights were cooler than they were in 2018, thus preserving the acidity better.
We tasted 2018 first beginning with Rémus. « In Burgundian terms this is our village wine with the single vineyards representing the crus. Barrels from our single vineyard sites that are not up to scratch are moved down to Rémus, » Jacky explained. Although the 2018 Rémus is richly textured and seductive it lacks a bit of zip in the finish. In contrast the 2018 parcellaires (single vineyards) show greater freshness and balance. This reflects both the quality of the individual sites and that the least successful barrels went into Rémus.
Regarding the parcellaires Jacky says that the the cooler sites, such as Clos Mosny and the Clos du Hochet (Montlouis) and Clos de la Bretonnière (Vin de France aka Vouvray) produce the best results in hot vintages. In contrast in cooler years warmer sites like the Clos Michet (Montlouis) and the Clos de Venise (Vin de France aka Vouvray) come into their own.
My 2018 favourites:
Montlouis: Clos Mosny, Clos du Hochet
Vin de France (reclassified Vouvray): Clos de la Bretonnière
Tasting the 2019s confirmed the impression I have had ever since tasting the juice during the vintage that freshness and balance are a mark of this vintage. the vivacity of 2019 Rémus was more to my taste than the 2018 version.
My 2019 favourites (parcellaires –provisional as barrel samples)
Montlouis: Clos Michet, Le Haut de Husseau (a parcel with little soil over limestone and the source for the original Rémus and then in 2002 Rémus Plus)
Vin de France (reclassified Vouvray): Clos de la Bretonnière, Clos de la Venise.
We then tasted four single vineyard wines from 2012: Clos Mosny, Le Haut de Husseau, Clos de la Bretonnière and Clos de Venise with Le Haut de Husseau and Venise showing best. Our tasting concluded with three vintages of Les Hauts de Husseau. Firstly a quite rich 2011 now showing well for a difficult vintage with rot a big problem at vintage time. Next 2009 – precise and quite austere in a finish for a hot vintage that had to be picked very quickly meaning four full presses per day. Lastly the more evolved 2008 with notes of white truffle, texture, complexity and a tense long length. All three could be kept for many years – illustrating that it is wiser to invest in the pleasure of aging Loire Chenin in preference to many white Burgundies.