This post first appeared in June 2012 on our old Overblog site. I am sure that for all of us this remarkable tasting was one of the high collective points of Les 5 du Vin, so I am delighted to resurrect it on our current site.
‘Astonishing! Bourgueil through three centuries: 2011 back to 1893
It was on all counts a remarkable experience. To sit in that treasure of a cave deep in the limestone at Domaine Lamé-Delisle-Boucard and taste such a range of wines starting with 2009 and ending with the legendary 1893. Undoubtedly this was the stand-out event of les 5 du Vin’s visit to Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil in early June.
We started on ground level in the chai of Lamé-Delisle-Boucard (LDB) tasting the promising 2011s from vat as well as a 2009 showing the typical concentration from this warm year.
Then we headed underground – leaving the 21st century for the 20th. First we tasted two 1989s – one from LDB and one from Domaine des Ouches. The two Gambiers – Denis and Thomas – had joined us for the tasting.
1989: LDB – rich, sweet ripe fruit with good colour. The hot summer and autumn of 1989 is evident from the level of maturity in the fruit.
1989: Ouches – still keeping well but lighter. The Gambiers say they think they picked a little too early. Prolonged hot summers like 1989 were rare then, so difficult to get the picking date right.
1975: Sweet cherry fruit, less rich than the more famous and more seen 1976 but attractive. In the Chinon tasting from 1934 to 2005 last September the 1975 Domaine Spelty showed very well.
1976: the famously hot and very dry across northern Europe. The weather broke in September soon after UK Prime Minister appointed Denis Howell as the Minister for Drought. I remember flying into Heathrow from Corfu in late August and being struck by how brown the UK looked. The LDB had still rich fruit with an opulent texture. Showing very well.
1969: The 60s were a mixed bag with some fine vintages like 1961 and 1964 but also some very poor ones – 1963, 1965 and 1968. Curiously this 1969 had a touch of apricot, lovely texture and some light acidity. Unsurprisingly not as rich as the 1976 but again lovely texture and good length.
1964: This is a famous vintage in Chinon and the 1964 from Domaine Dozon showed brilliantly at last September’s Chinon tasting. The LDB was a little less impressive – softly textured but quite marked acidity.
(An update: on a visit to the domaine about 10 days ago Philippe Boucard opened another 1964 which showed very well especially but it needed about half an hour to show its best.)
1961: There were two 1961’s one from Domaine des Ouches and one LDB. Both were impressive with the fruit on the Ouches still remaining remarkably fresh, while the LDB had wonderful delicacy and balance.
All the remaining wines came from Lamé-Delisle-Boucard:
1959: This is one of the fabled Loire years of the 20th century – possibly not quite the level of 1947, 1921 and perhaps 1989. However, there are some that put 1990 above 1989. This Prestige was very impressive with rich, concentrated dried fruits and a very longfinish.
1955: Less rich than the imposing 1959 but still sweet fruit, delicate and fine.
1949: Along with 1947 a great vintage from the 1940s. This 1949 had quite a mushroomy character and again a delicacy to this bottle.
1948: This was a surprise as 1947 and 1949 have high reputations but little is heard of 1948. I don’t remember tasting a 1948 before but was impressive. Again some mushroom character but less marked than the 49. Attractive red currant fruit with quite marked acidity.Also famous for being the birth year of Michel Smith of les 5 du Vin.
1947: Some fungal character – a blend of rich, powerful fruit and finesse.
1947 rosé: The great surprise of the tasting – a dry rosé from 1947. Although I have drunk a range of Cabernet d’Anjou’s from the 1940s, I have never tried a Loire dry rosé of this age. Onion skin colour, remaining wonderfully fresh with peach and apricot flavours and a touch of moka in the finish. Remarkable!
1934: I first tasted a 1934 Loire red (Domaine René Couly) at the Chinon vertical tasting last September and was amazed by its quality and freshness. This 1934 Bourgueil wasn’t as splendid as that bottle but it still had fruit.
1933: This was better than the 34 with delicate sweet wild red fruits.
1906: Slightly fungal but with a lovely Pinot Noir colour and still an extraordinary finesse.
1893: With what other Loire vintage could such an extraordinary vertical tasting conclude? It had to be 1893, still the earliest Loire vintage known. Picking here at Lamé-Delisle-Boucard began on 2nd September. My guess is that picking 2012 won’t start until early October. This 1893 had attractive fungal, sous bois aromas and still wonderfully opulent, sweet fruit and length. Still a bottle to enjoy and savour 119 years on!
This was a real demonstration that Loire reds, as well as its whites, can indeed age and age attractively. Not all Loire reds are fresh and fruity needing to be consumed when young!
Our grateful thanks to the amazing generosity of the Lamé-Delisle-Boucard team!’