Les 5 du Vin

5 journalistes parlent du vin

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Zéros + an update on Wine.Pop


Jacky Blot’s very successful Triple Zéro

On 28th November my fellow Cinq – David – decried ‘la dictature du faible dosage en Champagne‘.

I don’t know when the first non dosé Loire sparkling wine was released but certainly this has become a popular and successful category of fizz in the Loire. In my experience sparkling wines from good Loire producers work well with refreshing but not sharp acidity.

I have chosen two examples that I am always happy to drink – Jacky Blot’s Triple Zéro (AC Montlouis) and the Brut Zéro Crémant de Loire from Château de l’Aulée in Azay-le-Rideau. They illustrate why Zéro fizz wines from the Loire work due to low yields and picking the grapes when they are ripe. Both of these wines have no sugar added at any stage of their production, so it is not just a question of zero dosage.

Take Triple Zéro. Its catchy name underlines the point that there is no additional sugar – zero for the vin clair, zero for the secondary fermentation and zero at dégorgement. Blot picks the grapes for Triple Zéro at between 12˚-12.5˚ potential from yields between 3–40 hectolitres per hectare. His grapes have enough natural sugar and ripe acidity to render adjustments unnecessary.

Château de l’Aulée, on the eastern side of Azay-le-Rideau, was founded in 1856 by Cordier, the Bordeaux négociant. It was bought in 1973 by Champagne Deutz, who then sold it to the current owners – Marielle Henrion, an oenologist from Champagne, and her husband Arnaud from Touraine.

Two fine Loire sparkling wines to celebrate not only Christmas and the New Year but to enjoy throughout the year.


Brut Zéro, Crémant de Loire Château de l’Aulée
(above and below)



Wine.Pop: Tim Brown sacked

tom-voltzTom Voltz – founder and editor in chief of Wine.Pop

On the 18th November I warned about the involvement of fraudster Tim Brown (Aaron Timmer Brown) in the wine tourist app – Wine.Pop. I am delighted to report that Tim Brown is no longer involved in Wine.Pop. He was sacked by Tom Voltz, the founder and owner of Wine.Pop on Thursday 8th December. Brown’s contract, which was due to run to the end of 2016 with a possible extension, was terminated with immediate effect. I can only assume that Brown had been up to his old tricks.

I now hope that Wine.Pop, which seeks to provide a platform for lesser known wineries to attract visitors, will be a success.

As for Tim Brown, the abrupt and early ending of his contract with Wine.Pop, tells you all you need to know about Brown along with his theft of the bulk of the Paul Kimmage Defense Fund and his failure to honour the maintenance payments in Canada to his wife.

This latest episode should persuade anyone in the wine industry in Catalonia and the rest Spain that it is a very bad idea to employ Tim Brown (aka Aaron Timmer Brown) in any capacity whatsoever.

More details on Jim’s Loire here.


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Two days focusing on the Loire – Crémants and VitiLoire – but sight of a swelling storm cloud over Vouvray

2015 VitiLoire à Tours

2015 VitiLoire à Tours

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.

Hervé a boulot

Hervé a boulot

Hervé avec les fraises de voyage

Hervé avec les fraises de voyage

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.

Domaine Michaud – made by Thierry Michaud at Noyers sur Cher

Domaine Michaud – made by Thierry Michaud at Noyers sur Cher

2015 VitiLoire
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.

Eric Santier, Domaine Dozon, Ligré, Chinon

Eric Santier, Domaine Dozon, Ligré, Chinon

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.

Domaine des Grandes Espérances, Laurent Saget

Domaine des Grandes Espérances, Laurent Saget

Laurent Saget

Laurent Saget

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.

Jacky Blot

Jacky Blot

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.

At the centre of this potential storm is the latest Vouvray décret of 8th June 2011. This décret sets out that AC Vouvray has to be vinified within the zone of Vouvray with a part of the commune of the Nazelles-Négron, on the north bank of the Loire just across from Amboise. Transitional arrangements were made for the commune of Montlouis allowing Vouvray to be vinified there until the 2013 harvest. These arrangements have now come to an end, so what happens now? 
François Chidaine

François Chidaine

 The relevant parts of the décret:                 
 ‘Décret n° 2011-650 du 8 juin 2011 relatif à l’appellation d’origine contrôlée « Vouvray »

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.’

3° Aire de proximité immédiate :
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).’
‘XI. ― Mesures transitoires:’
‘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.

A suivré!

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Bulles de Loire (2): Fizzing in the Loire

Triple Zéro – one of my favourite Loire sparklers

Triple Zéro – one of my favourite Loire sparklers

Although Saumur is the centre of the industry, sparkling wine is made through the Loire. From the Pays Nantais, where Gros Plant is often the majority grape, all the way to the Côte Roannaise and Côtes de Forez – made from Gamay or non-AC white varieties. As David wrote yesterday the sparkling wines from the Loire offer good value and frequently a very good price quality/ratio.

Perhaps having a base in the Cher Valley to the east Tours that I tend to drink the sparkling wines of Vouvray and Montlouis, especially the Pétillant. These are specialities of Vouvray and Montlouis plus to a certain extent elsewhere in Touraine. They have around 2.5 atmospheres compared to the more customary 4.5 to 5 for fully sparkling wines, so they are less fizzy. The Triple Zéro from Jacky Blot’s Domaine de la Taille aux Loups (AC Montlouis) I think is particularly successful. Its is called Triple Zéro because there is no sugar added at any stage in its production – initial fermentation, when bottled for the secondary fermentation nor at the final corking. This is because the grapes (Chenin Blanc) are picked at around 12% potential – very considerably higher than is usually the case in Champagne. There is also a Rosé version of Triple Zéro made using the same method.

Triple Zéro, like other good Loire sparkling wines, ages well gaining further complexity in bottle. Indeed I have occasionally had the chance to drink some very old sparkling wines from Domaine Huet – 1959 on at least a couple of occasions and very memorably the 1937 once with the late Gaston Huet during a press dinner in Amboise at the end of the last century to celebrate decades of Vouvrays that had been made in the years 7.

PetNats, short for Pétillants Naturels, have become very popular over the past five years or so in the Loire. All tend to be made without added sugar, customarily with native yeasts and frequently using the méthode ancestrale – the winter cold stopping the fermentation before the returning warmth of the spring restarts it. They vary very considerably in style. Some are bottled and released just after a few months retaining quite a bit of residual sugar, others spend a year or more sur latte and, are drier.

Château d'Aulée, Azay-le-RideauChâteau de l’Aulée, Azay-le-Rideau

Château de l’Aulée in Touraine Azay-le-Rideau is another of my favourite sparkling wine producers. They make both Crémant de Loire and Touraine Méthode Traditionnelle, which is slightly cheaper. However, as none of the Crémants (last time I was there) sell for more than 10€ it is worth paying a little extra for the additional quality. I am especially keen on the Brut Zéro and the 1856 – the year this estate was established.

From our tasting on Monday 2nd February it was interesting that the Crémants made with a predominance of Chardonnay were leaner and more vibrant than those where Chenin was in the majority – these tended to have more complexity. It was also notable that we had 42 Crémant de Loire samples (12 Chardonnay dominant/ 30 Chenin dominant) to taste against only 11 with the Saumur appellation. Although the Crémant de Loire appellation dates from 1976, it took a very long time for it to become really established. Only recently did the production of Loire Crémant surpass that of Saumur. That Saumur already had an established reputation was a factor but also the fact that the rules for Crémant were more strict – less juice per hectolitre, presses without chains, 12 months minimum sur latte compared to nine for Saumur etc. played a part.

Four of Les 5.

Four of Les 5.


Hervé puts his foot in it!

With one or two exceptions all of the samples we tasted should a good level of quality and were wines I’d be happy to open as an apéro. Not only do these Loire fizzes offer un bon rapport qualité/prix but they are less litigious than those from that large sparkling wine region to the North East of Paris, although two of the Saumur houses do have connections with that zone.

Some favourites from the tasting:

Dom Nature, Domaine Richou, Majority Chardonnay

Dom Nature, Domaine Richou, Majority Chardonnay

Robert et Marcel, Saumur – named after Robert and Marcel Néau, who played a big part in establishing the Cave Coop de St Cyr – now the majority owner of Alliance Loire and thus Ackerman. 80% Chenin, 20% Chardonnay

Robert et Marcel, Saumur – named after Robert and Marcel Néau, who played a big part in establishing the Cave Coop de St Cyr – now the majority owner of Alliance Loire and thus Ackerman. 80% Chenin, 20% Chardonnay

Château de Montgueret, Crémant – 60% Chenin, 20% Cabernet Franc and 20% Chardonnay

Château de Montguéret, Crémant – 60% Chenin, 20% Cabernet Franc and 20% Chardonnay

吉姆·巴德 Photo©MichelSmith



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Bulles de Loire (1): fines et raisonnables

 IMG_4851Trois des quatre au travail pour cette dégustation. Jim prenait la photo. Hervé réfléchissait à sa prochaine blague. Marc peaufinait ses notes. David s’occupait du service. Un vrai petit ménage à 4 ! (photo Jim Budd)

Il y a quinze jours, 4 membres de ce blog collectif se sont retrouvés à Angers, à l’occasion du Salon des Vins de Loire. L’occasion fut trop belle pour ne pas tenter notre troisième expérience d’une dégustation partagée, après Champagne (2012) et Bourgeuil /St. Nicolas de Bourgueil (2013). Evidemment cela allait concerner une ou plusieurs appellations ligériennes, et nous avons opté pour deux appellations de vins effervescents, vu l’engouement actuel des marchés pour ce type de vin. Il s’agit de Crémant de Loire et de Saumur Brut, qui utilisent tous les deux la méthode dite « traditionnelle », ce qui signifie une seconde fermentation d’un vin tranquille en bouteille afin de générer pression et un peu plus d’alcool. Les règles précises de ces deux appellations diffèrent un peu, comme le démontre le tableau ci-dessous, mais en gros elles sont très proches.

Crémant de Loire

cépages autorisés (avec quelques règles quant aux proportions) : chenin blanc, chardonnay, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, grolleau noir, grolleau gris, pineau d’aunis, pinot noir

aire de production : 1600 hectares

production moyenne : 97,000 hectolitres

rendement : 74/80 hl/ha

rendement au pressoir : 100 litres pour 150 kg

vieillissement sur lattes : 12 mois minimum

reflet-chateau-saumurLes appellations de Saumur, tranquilles ou effervescentes, profitent de l’image du château éponyme, mais sait-on bien à l’étranger que ces vins viennent de la région Loire ?

Saumur Brut

cépages autorisés (avec quelques règles quant aux proportions): chenin blanc, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, pineau d’aunis.

aire de production : 1400 hectares

production moyenne : 90.000 hectolitres

rendement : 67/76 hl/ha

vieillissement sur lattes : 9 mois minimum

 IMG_4844Tous ces vins, ainsi que la production effervescente de Vouvray et Monlouis, portent parfois la désignation suggestive (mais non réglementée je crois) de « Fines Bulles de Loire ». (photo Jim Budd).

La production de ce type de vin en Val de Loire remonte au moins au 19ème siècle, particulièrement à Saumur, qui garde une appellation spécifique de nos jours. Les autres bulles produites dans la région le sont, en général, sous l’appellation de Crémant de Loire, qui a une base géographique plus étendue, c’est à dire Saumur, Anjou et Touraine. Mais on trouve aussi des vins mousseux faisant partie de deux appellations de vins blancs de la région tourangelle : Montlouis et Vouvray. Ailleurs dans les régions de la Loire, quelques producteurs élaborent aussi des vins à bulles, mais sans appellation contrôlée. Ils ont généralement comme désignation « vin mousseux de France ».

IMG_4853Rien n’échappe à l’oeil de Moscou….ou est-ce de Lalau ? (photo Jim Budd)

L’aire d’appellation Saumur concerne 1,400 hectares au sud de la Loire sur les coteaux  calcaires qui entourent la ville de Saumur. Une gamme assez large de cépages est autorisée : chenin blanc, chardonnay et sauvignon blanc pour les blancs, puis cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc et pineau d’aunis pour les rouges. Si la présence de cépages rouges surprend, je rappelle que les techniques de pressurage et la nature des baies permettent l’obtention d’un jus blanc à partir d’un raisin dont la peau est noire ou rouge. Après tout,  2/3 du vignoble champenois est planté en cépages rouges.

L’aire du Crémant de Loire est un peu plus grande : 1,600 hectares, et pour des sols plus variables. Les cépages blancs ne sont que deux : chardonnay et chenin blanc, tandis que sont autorisés 6 variétés plus ou moins rouges : cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, menu pineau et grolleau (gris et noir).

IMG_4848Marc cherche, et va sans doute trouver, une large gamme d’arômes dans son verre de bulles ligériennes (photo Jim Budd)

L’appétit croissant des marchés pour les vins pétillants à bien profité récemment à ces deux appellations, mais il semblerait que cela soit davantage le cas pour les Crémants de Loire, qui ont l’avantage d’inclure le nom de leur région dans leur désignation. Entre 2006 et 2013, les ventes de Crémant de Loire ont doublées, pour dépasser légèrement 13 millions de bouteilles en 2013. Si ceci est à relativiser à côté du géant champenois et ses presque 300 millions de flacons, le Crémant de Loire tient une bonne place parmi les autres Crémants de France (Alsace, Bourgogne, Jura etc).Deux tiers sont exportés et ces exportations ont augmenté de 24% entre 2012 et 2013. C’est le premier exportateur parmi les Crémants de France, avec 26% des volumes exportés. Cela tient à une place de leader sur le très important marché allemand, même si Bourgogne et Alsace le battent ailleurs. Les bulles de Loire (Crémant de Loire et Saumur ensemble) sont aussi leader sur le marché britannique. Les bulles de Vouvray ou de Montlouis se vendent essentiellement sur le marché français.

IMG_4846 Les vins qui m’ont fait sourire étaient assez nombreux dans cette dégustation  (photo Jim Budd)

Notre dégustation

Nous avons demandé une seule cuvée, non-millésimé, de chaque producteur qui souhaitait proposer un échantillon. La dégustation a eu lieu le matin du lundi 2 février, dans les locaux d’InterLoire à Angers. Les vins étaient servis à l’aveugle et ordonnés ainsi : 11 crémants de Loire à dominante chardonnay, puis 30 Crémants de Loire à dominante chenin, et enfin 11 Saumurs bruts à dominante chenin.

Les vins que j’ai aimés et leurs prix (les vins en caractères gras sont mes préférés)

1). Crémant de Loire (à dominante chardonnay)

Renou Frères et Fils (6,40 euros), Domaine de Varinelles (7,80 euros)

2). Crémant de Loire (à dominante chenin blanc)

Château Pierre Bise (9,50 euros), Domaine des Bessons (7,60 euros), Domaine Lavigne 7 euros), Domaine de l’Eté (6,80 euros), Domaine de la Bergerie (8 euros), Domaine Pierre Chauvin (13 euros), Château du Fresne (7 euros), Château de Parnay (8,50 euros), Domaine du Bois Mozé (11,50 euros), Langlois Château (12,50 euros), Château du Cléray (12 euros).

2). Saumur Brut (à dominante chenin)

Domaine de Sanzay (7,90 euros), Domaine Matignon (7 euros), Vignerons de Saumur, cuvée Robert et Marcel (5,80 euros), Ackermann cuvée Jean Baptiste Ackerman (6,50 euros), Domaine Leduc Frouin (6,50 euros), Domaine de la Perruche, La Grande Cuvée(8 euros), Château de Montguéret, Tête de Cuvée(13,30 euros)



On le voit bien, ces bulles-là sont très accessibles en prix (environ la moitié, au plus, des vins de Champagne) et il y avait beaucoup de bons vins dans une série d’une cinquantaine d’échantillons. On peut parfois leur reprocher une certaine neutralité, mais, dans l’ensemble, ils sont bien faits et valent très largement leur prix. S’ils n’ont pas souvent la finesse d’un bon Champagne, l’adage suivant reste valable : mieux vaut un bon Crémant (de Loire) qu’un mauvais Champagne.


David Cobbold 




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Bulles sur la Loire : les 5 enquêtent

bulles sur la Loire

Bulles sur la Loire, bulles de Loire, je ne pouvais pas imaginer meilleure photo pour cette introduction. Le crédit est dûment affiché.

Lors du récent Salon des Vins de Loire, 4 membres de ce blog à 5 têtes (plus ou moins pensantes) ont dégusté, à l’aveugle, une série de vins effervescents issue de deux appellations ligériennes : Crémant de Loire et Saumur. Cette dégustation nous a été préparée par Interloire, que nous remercions.

Le 5ème larron, notre Catalan d’adoption Michel Smith, a suivi son propre chemin qu’il nous narrera à son tour. Ainsi, toute la semaine prochaine, nos articles seront consacrés à divers aspects des vins pétillants ligériens, catégorie dont les ventes sont globalement en augmentation, comme c’est le cas pour les vins à bulles en général. Le phénomène est encore plus significatif que la montée des vins rosés.

Si les avis se discutent presque à l’infini, les faits sont têtus. Je vous livre donc quelques informations de base sur le monde des vins à bulles. La production mondiale de vins effervescents a augmenté de + de 40 % en 10 ans (17,6 millions d’hectolitres en 2013 contre 12,7 millions d’hectolitres en 2003), tandis que celle des vins tranquilles a reculé. Si la consommation de ce type de vin n’a pas tout à fait suivi la même courbe ascensionnelle sur la même période, elle a tout de même pris 30%. Aujourd’hui cette production compte pour environ 7% de la production globale des vins dans le monde.

Le plus grand producteur (et consommateur) mondial de vins effervescents est l’Allemagne, suivi de la France. Les échanges se développent aussi à un bon rythme, et concernent maintenant près de la moitié des volumes produits.

Lundi je vous parlerai uniquement des bulles de Loire, aussi bien sur le plan économique que gustatif. Mes collègues prendront la suite, chacun dans son style inimitable et en explorant des angles différents de la question.

David Cobbold

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Some Highland Loires


Glen Tromie and Gaick – deep in the remote Highlands of Scotland

Although we are spending the summer in the Highlands of Scotland, we are still enjoying some good Loire bottles that we brought up from London with us. We are getting in plenty of cycling, which naturally is provoking a considerable thirst!

First up: 2007 Excelsior Domaine Pierre Luneau Papin Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine
This long aged Muscadet – 30 months on its lees – is brilliantly clean, fresh with lovely length of flavor but good weight, too, which comes from its long aging. Works well as an aperitif but was even better with some simply fried and very fresh filets of sea bass. Although not yet officially one of the new Muscadet Crus Communaux this is very much in that style with the finesse and additional complexity that is a hallmark of these wines.

Crémant de Loire Terra Laura
2009 Cuvée Claude de France, Cour-Cheverny, Domaine de Montcy
Businesswoman Laura Semeria took over the 20 hectare now organic Domaine de Montcy in 2007. In the appellations of Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny it lies to the south-west of the Château and town of Cheverny. Unfortunately Laura has been hit by Spring frosts in both 2012 and 2013.

Two wines here from Laura. The Crémant is 100% Chardonnay in a very clean, vibrant, lemony style making a good wake up aperitif.  The 2009 Cuvée Claude de France is naturally 100% Romorantin in a delicate moelleux style. Lightly sweet it is best paired with blue cheese or creamy dishes. Laura recommends it with a rhubarb or cherry tart – anything sweeter would overpower it. Ideally I would have cellared the Claude de France for at least another couple of years to gain additional complexity.

2010 Les Blancs Manteaux, Chinon, Domaine de la Noblaie
Jérôme Billard is one of the most promising of the younger generation of Chinon producers. After working at Pétrus and then Dominus in Napa as well as a spell in New Zealand, he returned to the family estate in 2003. Noblaie now has 24 hectares of vines and last year Jérôme invested in a new winery – previously they worked in very cramped conditions.

Les Blancs Manteaux comes from 60 year-old vines planted on a limestone slope. Ideally the 2010 should be squirreled away for at least another two years to fulfil its potential. However, this dark wine currently has deliciously soft black fruit, supple tannins.