Les 5 du Vin

5 journalistes parlent du vin


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Deux Facel Vegas dans le Royaume du Cabernet Franc

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Two Facel Vegas and a pre-war Lagonda @Domaine de la Noblaie, Ligré (AC Chinon) 

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Couple with dog seeking to make open Lagonda
comfortable as rain increases…. 

Asked to organise visits last week in Bourgueil and Chinon for six classic car enthusiasts – two with examples of France’s 1950s and 1960s luxury sports car – Facel Vega, we spent an enjoyable two days enjoying two fine lunches interspersed with a couple of visits.

We started on a high – a remarkable tasting at Lamé Delisle Boucard in Ingrandes de Touraine going back to 1928. Details here. This was followed by an excellent lunch at Lamé’s neighbours – Vincent le Cuisinier. If you haven’t yet eaten Chez Vincent clear your diary and get down there quick – superb but booking is essential as there are very few tables.

The following day we reversed the order of events – having a very good lunch at the well established Auberge Val de Vienne in Sazilly before heading to Domaine de la Noblaie in nearby Ligré. Details here.

•••

Update on Loire 2016

Today we head to the Pays Nantais for a quick look at how the harvest is progressing here. The Ban des Vendanges was on 15th September.

However, a quick VTT ride through the vineyards of Saint-Georges-sur-Cher reveals a rather sorry sight:

Variable ripeness within a bunch with 

some grapes frazzled by hot weather (19.9.16)

(above and below)

 

Not looking pretty!

2016 Vendanges in Saint-Georges-sur-Cher, AC Touraine 

This brief report comes with a health warning as to date I have only looked at couple of sites in Chinon plus taking a ride today through some of the vineyards of Saint Georges-sur-Cher. In addition I have also talked to a number of Loire vignerons but even so it is dangerous to jump to conclusions on a small sample. 

However, we can say that 2016 has been a difficult year with frost at the end of April, very heavy rain causing widespread flooding at the end of May and beginning of June. After this many producers had to deal with powerful mildew attacks. Then in July and August the weather turned dramatically hot and very dry, so much so that there were drought conditions by early September. 

However, rain started on evening of Tuesday 12th September, so the drought is over. But the drought has probably made the veraison prolonged so within the same bunch you can still see green grapes along with black ones making picking difficult. The very hot weather also frazzled some of the grapes as these photos show.

There are, of course, some normal bunches without sunburn or obvious long veraison, but it looks a complicated vintage.      

Shrivelled by the heat of July and August
Further reducing the yield
(above and below)

Despite the very hot July and August
already signs of rot in some bunches (above and below)

A significant percentage of this bunch has been heat frazzled.

ChevereJm


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Le Carménère, au revoir Bordeaux, bonjour Chili

Avant-hier soir, ne sachant que boire, j’ai décidé en fouillant ma cave d’ouvrir ce Carménère qui me tendait le goulot. Là, dans le petit porte-bouteille dédié aux vins d’Amérique Latine, il se rappelait à moi. Me remémorant son histoire toute simple –  il est revenu dans mes bagages d’un voyage au Chili.

J’ai hésité, la bouteille lourde, le style Premium, comme on aime à dire là-bas (et ailleurs aussi), en plus élaboré par une grosse boîte, voila bien le genre de vin qu’on garde quand on reçoit quelques potes avertis des excès du Nouveau Monde.

Mais comme il continuait à me faire de l’œil, j’ai fini par le déboucher, malgré tout ce qu’il y avait d’écrit sur l’étiquette. David, qui trouve souvent qu’il y a trop d’éléments imprimés sur les étiquettes françaises, là il aurait eu son compte.

En commençant par le dessus:

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Vineyard Selection Terrunyo unfiltred Carmenere Block 17

Peumo Vineyard – D.O. Peumo – Cachapoal Valley – Chile 2007 Concha y Toro

Je me dis que quand les Chiliens ont envie de nous en mettre plein la vue, ils y mettent le paquet. Mais l’important reste ce qu’il y a dans la bouteille.

Je m’attendais au pire, un truc plein d’alcool, il titre 14,5°, avec un goût de bois coco, et des épices aussi usées que le fruit. Et bien non!

Carménère 2007 Peumo Valle de Cachapoal  Concha y Toro

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Sa robe est d’un grenat violet comme la marmelade de fruit qui saute au nez. Elle mélange les fruits noirs, myrtilles et mûres, fraises et cassis, qu’elle saupoudre de cannelles, de cumin et de cardamome pour la rendre plus attirante encore. Puis, elle frappe à la porte du palais. Ce dernier ouvre grand les lèvres et se laisse bousculer sans contrainte par ce fruité épicé. La langue, qu’il n’a pas dans la poche, se délecte des milles nuances fruitées, se tourne sept fois dans la soie tannique, affole ses papilles de jus frais et gourmands, les baigne dans un véritable plaisir buccal, se donne au chat pour connaître l’origine de ce Carménère.

Tout compte fait, ce vin issu d’une bouteille imposante, issue elle-même d’une maison tout aussi importante, se révèle des plus agréables.

Peut-être est-ce l’âge du vin, après neuf années, il a bien digéré son bois (8 mois en barriques de chêne français). Il avait suffisamment de matière pour le faire.

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L’origine de ce Carménère : le vignoble de Peumo, planté en 1990, se perche à 170 mètres. Ses terrasses courent le long du rio Cachaopal, au creux de la Cordillère Côtière. Le sol se compose d’argiles limoneuses d’origine fluviatile. Le climat y est chaud, très ensoleillé, mais avec un écart de température de 19°C entre jour et nuit, dû à la double influence du fleuve et du lac Rapel, assez proche. La vendange se fait manuellement à partir de fin avril. La fermentation dure une dizaine de jours suivie d’une macération post-fermentaire de 2 semaines, le tout en cuve inox jusqu’à la fermentation malolactique. Le vin est ensuite entonné en barrique pour 8 mois.

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Un joli vin qui s’est bu avec gourmandise et velouté, tout en puissance contenue qui frisait l’élégance, comme quoi les aprioris…

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Concha y Toro montre qu’en dehors de son incontournable Casillero del Diablo, existe une véritable gamme. Et que le Chili a eu raison de choisir le Carménère comme cépage de référence, après avoir trop longtemps erré avec le Merlot-coco-mou-à-l’alcool. (ndlr: le Carménère fait partie de la famille des Carmenets, au même titre que le Merlot, avec lequel il partage un même père, le Cabernet franc; il a fallu les recherches du Professeur Boursiquot, pour que l’on différencie les deux cépages souvent plantés ensemble au Chili, à cause d’une erreur des pépiniéristes).

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Pourquoi donc les Bordelais ne replantent-ils pas ce cépage qui était bien ancré dans leur vignoble jusqu’au phylloxéra?

 

Hasta

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Marco


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79 years from Lerné to Chinon

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Chinon: The Vienne, the old town and the château

On Friday the French Government made it official: eight new communes to the west of the Chinon on the south bank of the River Vienne will join the Chinon appellation from the 2016 vintage.

Ironically some if not all of these eight communes – Brizay, Candes-Saint-Martin, Chinais, Couziers, Lerné, Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne, Seuilly and Thizay – could have been part of AC Chinon when it was set up in 1937 as this part of Indre-et-Loire is a westward extension of the clay limestone terroir of the south bank of  the Vienne – see Ligré, for example.

Apparently, however, the opportunity was turned down because the various communes’ mayors believed that becoming part of this new set up would mean higher taxes.

It was the lunatic and yet to be implemented reform of Appellation Touraine that pushed these eight communes to apply to be included within the Chinon appellation. The Touraine reforms ban 100% Cabernet Franc and 100% Chenin, which may just conceivably make sense in the Cher Valley east of Tours but certainly makes no sense at the western end of Indre-et-Loire. As Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc are the grapes of choice in these eight communes as they are in this part of the Loire, these producers were left as orphans faced with the prospect of selling their wines as IGP Val de Loire or as Vin de France.

I suspect that François Rabelais, the patron saint of these parts, would have appreciated this delicious absurdity. I am all in favour of a sensibly drafted appellation system but this Touraine reform is just idiotic micro-management. Not, however, as insane as ‘Brexit’….

It was back in March 2014 that the Chinon producers kindly extended a life-line to the eight orphans accepting their application in principle. There then followed four years of studies with the successful conclusion announced last Friday.

It is only eight kilometres from Seuilly to Chinon and 12 from Lerné but it has taken all of 79 years to get there….

 

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Jean-Martin Dutour (Baudry-Dutour) and president of the Chinon producers

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En passant par Saint-Sardos

Au coeur de la Lomagne, dans le Tarn-et-Garonne, se trouve l’appellation Saint-Sardos (quand on la cherche bien). Héritière d’un vieux vignoble monastique, celui de l’abbaye de Grand Selve, à Bouillac, elle doit sa renaissance aux efforts de la coopérative éponyme, qui assure encore aujourd’hui l’essentiel de la production. Correction: toute la production, si l’on excepte deux vignerons indépendants.

L’aire d’appellation (230 ha) couvre 23 communes, mais les vignes sont à ce point dispersées qu’on peut facilement passer dans le coin sans en voir une seule. Je peux en témoigner.

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En Lomagne, on voit plus de tournesol, de blé et d’ail que de vignes.

Et pourtant, c’est sûr, il y en a! (Photo (c) H. Lalau 2016)

Gilles de Morban est une des marques de la cave coopérative.  C’est ce vin – dans sa version 2011 – que j’ai dégusté sur place par une belle et chaude soirée de vacances, fin juillet. L’assemblage est dominé par la Syrah (une particularité locale, car c’est la seule AOP du Sud-Ouest qui l’autorise en cépage principal), complétée par du Tannat (deuxième cépage principal) et du Cabernet Franc. Il n’a vu que la cuve.

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Je suppose que la bouteille présentée au concours…

n’était pas bouchonnée! (photo (c) H. Lalau 2016)

Un assemblage original qui illustre les différentes influences de cette zone, entre Atlantique, Pyrénées et Méditerranée.  

Pivoine, cassis, romarin, violette, le nez de ce Gascon est bien affirmé. Sa bouche ne l’est pas moins –  je pense à un de ces mousquetaires forts en gueule qui émaillent les romans de Dumas ou de Merle. Piment d’Espelette ou ail de Lomagne, faites votre choix.

La finale est un peu rugueuse, mais un peu de tannin n’a jamais fait de mal à personne, ni une pointe d’acidité, surtout sur un plat un peu gras comme en propose la gastronomie locale. Ah, les joies de l’oie!

Très inspiré, sur ce coup-là, le Guide Hachette suggère plutôt un steak-frites. Je n’aurai qu’un seul mot: bof!

Hervé Lalau

PS. Sur les deux bouteilles achetées par mes soins à Beaumont de Lomagne (même millésime, même lot), une était malheureusement et irrémédiablement bouchonnée. Un modèle du genre. Je n’ai pas osé racheter une troisième bouteille pour affiner la statistique. Vivement les capsules à vis!


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2016 Bourgueil à Tours

Fête Bourgueils

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.

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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.

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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.

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Aurélien Revillot

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Sophie Raimbault

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).

Santé !

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Armand de Tilly – les pattes du vigneron …..

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The 2015 Loire Vintage – so far to 20.10.2015

Chenin Blanc developing nicely at Domaine Cady providing proof that there are a good number of vigneron ready to take the necessary risks to make fine sweet wine.

Chenin Blanc developing nicely at Domaine Cady providing proof that there are a good number of vigneron ready to take the necessary risks to make fine sweet wine.

 Today we are heading back to London after nearly five weeks in the Loire with much of this spent travelling up and down the Loire following the 2015 vintage.

Given the number of different styles of wine made in the Loire and the long duration of the Loire’s harvest, it is always difficult and dangerous to generalise about Loire vintages.

However, it seems apparent that 2015 is generally a good to very good vintage, although probably not as stellar as hoped at the beginning of August.

Certainly the marked fluctuations in the weather tested producers’ nerves. Rain during flowering for some varieties caused loss through coulure. Then the very dry weather of June and July initially provoked delight but as the dry, hot weather continued drought became a concern. By August vignerons were looking for a couple of periods of light rain. Unfortunately nature, as so often, over compensated and there was some heavy rain in late August that caused problems in Muscadet, provoking rot in the Melon de Bourgogne. The Pays Nantais probably had the most difficult conditions in 2015.

Picking of early varieties like Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay started in the Cher Valley right at the end of August. Most of Touraine’s Sauvignon was picked in good conditions during the first part of September. Yields were lower than hoped for due to coulure and the heat and drought of June and July.

The fine start to September around 12th with a week of frequently torrential rain – in places like Bourgueil recording over 100mm during this period. Fortunately this was followed by a period of settled fine weather with a drying wind from the north-east. The Cabernet Franc appeared to stand up well to this dowsing

During this time most of the grapes in Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and Bourgueil were picked.

This fine spell came to and end with further heavy rain between 4th and 6th October. Tours recorded 28.5mm on the 5th. Since then it has been dry with some good sunny days but also some cool, overcast days. This has allowed Chinon and Saumur to pick their Cabernet Franc and remaining parcels of Chenin Blanc in favourable weather. The same has gone for Anjou

Further east Sancerre and Pouilly and the Central Vineyards have had another good vintage with the Pinot Noir deemed to be particularly successful. Volume is a little down but this is hardly catastrophic after last year’s bumper harvest and avoiding the frost of late April 2012 that hit vineyards further west.

The current fine spell is raising hopes of some fine sweet wines in Anjou for those prepared to wait and truly pick selectively.

It may well prove in time to be fascinating to compare 2014 with 2015.

Santé

Jim


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Le Véritable Coq au Vin à Ingrandes-de-Touraine

Le Clos des Poules in Ingrandes-de-Touraine – the harvester approaches the chicken.

Enclos des Poules in Ingrandes-de-Touraine – the harvester approaches the chicken, who is unaware of its impending fate .

Today in Ingrandes-de-Touraine, one of the communes of the Bourgueil appellation, I was privileged to see a breakthrough in the preparation of one of France’s most iconic dishes – le coq au vin. In the small Enclos des Poules they have achieved the perfect association of terroir as the chickens that are given free-range in the Clos are harvested at the same time as the Cabernet Franc grapes.

The now oven ready chicken drops gently from the harvesting machine.

The now oven ready chicken drops gently from the harvesting machine.

The chicken is settled gently on bed of straw ready to be cooked or keep in cold storage.

The chicken is settled gently on bed of straw ready to be cooked or keep in cold storage.

Next the machine empties the Cabernet Franc grapes from its hopper into a trailer ready to be processed at the nearby winery.

Next the machine empties the Cabernet Franc grapes from its hopper into a trailer ready to be processed at the nearby winery.

Perfectly cooked chicken from Le Clos des Poules.

Perfectly cooked, machine harvested chicken from Le Clos des Poules @Vincent-le-Cuisiner, Ingrandes-de-Touraine

2014 Bourgueil, L'Enclos des Poules, Vincent Simon

2014 Bourgueil, L’Enclos des Poules, Vincent Simon

Thierry Surcuve, director of the Poule project: « This is so exciting – a real breakthrough being able to bring these two terroir-driven products together. A magical symbiosis! »

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2015 Cabernet Franc

2015 Cabernet Franc

Elsewhere in Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil the vignerons are smiling again after the deluge of  September 13th – 18th. There is now radiant sunshine and the wind has swung from the West to the North East, which is drying everything quickly and re-concentrating the grapes after the very heavy rains. Fortunately the Cabernet Franc has resisted all the rain and it is very difficult to find any rot. The forecast for the rest of this week is for more of the same – sunshine and a drying North-Easterly wind.

Some producers are taking their time to let tannins ripen further, while others are pressing on worried that the wind will push the alcohol levels up too high.

No sign of rot

No sign of rot

JIM

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