Les 5 du Vin

5 journalistes parlent du vin

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Deux Facel Vegas dans le Royaume du Cabernet Franc

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



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.


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Oz Clarke, London celebrates, Champeau

 Oz, Chris Stroud (marketing manager – 

Europe, New Zealand Winegrowers),  

Sir Alexander Lockwood Smith  

 Sir Alexander Lockwood Smith, 

NZ High Commissioner to UK 

On Friday 6th may Oz Clarke, writer, actor and broadcaster, was inducted into the The New Zealand Hall of Fame at a brief ceremony at the top of New Zealand House. Sir Alexander Lockwood Smith, the New Zealand High Commissioner, made the presentation.


Press release:

‘Oz Clarke inducted in to New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame

Oz Clarke, the man who helped put New Zealand Wine on the map, will be inducted into the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame on International Sauvignon Blanc Day, Friday May 6.  

 Oz is the first person in the UK to receive this honour, and only the second non-Kiwi (after Australian David Hohnen in 2006) to be recognised for having made major contributions to the development and enhancement of the domestic and export-based wine industry in New Zealand.

 A passionate New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc enthusiast and advocate, Oz will be presented with his certificate of membership fittingly on International Sauvignon Blanc Day, at New Zealand House in London.

 “There had never before been a wine that crackled and spat its flavours at you from the glass,” Oz said at the inaugural International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration, held in Marlborough earlier this year, where he captivated the audience as a keynote speaker with his first memories of tasting New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

 Oz first visited New Zealand in 1987 as a guest overseas judge at the inaugural Air New Zealand Wine Awards, the country’s premier national wine competition. He came again a few years later to judge, and has been a regular keynote speaker at the triennial Pinot Noir International events held in Wellington since 2001.

 Commenting on Oz’s induction, the chairman of the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame Trust, Bob Campbell MW (who, incidentally judged on the same panel as Oz in 1987) said:

 “Oz is special to Kiwi winemakers because, in 1984 he was among the first to recognise that Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc had added a new style and flavour to the world of wine, and he never stopped saying it to anyone who would listen. Then, in 2001 he rated our best Pinot Noirs as being up there with the best of Burgundy – not better than but comparable with and complementary in style.” 

 « On personal and regional levels, Oz has taken the time and trouble to get to know our wine people and their terroirs, and the synergies are such that we have come to regard him as an honorary Kiwi.”



Celebrating London’s first Muslim Mayor – Sadiq Khan 

Crémant de Loire Rosé, Lamé Delisle Boucard


Last night we opened a bottle of the Crémant de Loire Rosé from Lamé Delisle Boucard to celebrate the election early on Saturday morning of Sadiq Khan as the new Mayor of London and the first Muslim to be elected to the post. Sadiq Khan was elected by a landslide despite a very unpleasantly racist campaign by the Conservatives that has been subsequently widely criticised by various senior Conservative figures. Despite these tactics Khan has been impressively dignified.  

Lamé’s Crémant Rosé is made from 70% Cabernet Franc and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and spends 24 months sur latte. Lovely delicate strawberry and raspberry fruit.

Proud to be a Londoner!     

Views of Sadiq Khan’s London 




Franck Champeau – Domaine Champeau, Pouilly-Fumé

 Franck Champeau, 

Domaine Champeau, Pouilly-Fumé

(above and below)

I was quite surprised to find a substantial Pouilly-Fumé domaine in the Wines Unearthed section of this year’s London Wine Trade Fair. The Wines Unearthed section described as ‘unsigned talent from the world of wine’ was for producers not represented in the UK. 

Domaine Champeau is based in the village of Saint-Andelain and has 20 hectares of vines – the vast majority being Sauvignon Blanc but they also have 1.40 ha of Chasselas for AC Pouilly-sur-Loire. This makes them the largest producer of Pouilly-sur-Loire – the much reduced appellation for Chasselas that used to be the dominant grape variety here – albeit essentially for the production of table grapes. The domaine was founded in 1942 when Franck’s grandparents started with just 1.70 ha of vines. He and his brother, Guy, are the third generation to run the domaine. 

I met Franck Champeau on the stand. Unfortunately like so many other Loire producers he has been hit by the recent late April frosts, especially that of early in the morning of Wednesday 27th April. « We have lost 50% of our crop, » Franck told me, « and overall throughout the appellation the loss is 50%. »

I was impressed with the wines I tasted with Franck – in particular the mineral 2014 Silex and and the attractively concentrated 2015 Pouilly-Fumé. For anyone looking for that relatively rare beast – a Pouilly-Fumé not imported into the UK – should take a look at these wines.    


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Two delicious Bourgueils from Lame Delisle Boucard + new fraud site

2014 Bourgueil Rosé, Lamé Delisle Boucard 

2014 Bourgueil Rosé, Lamé Delisle Boucard


2014 Bourgueil Rosé, Lamé Delisle Boucard is made from 90% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon with a slight maceration to give it a delicate pink colour. This has the usual 2014 ripeness and balance with soft, attractively textured fruit and crisp acidity in the finish. Dangerously easy drinking – open a bottle and it empties by magic!

Perhaps not initially as heralded as 2009, 2010 is a very fine Loire vintage – not only for reds but also dry and sweet whites, which is quite an unusual combination. 

 2010Cuvée Prestige

From a very good vintage this 2010 Cuvée Prestige is simply delicious and amazing value at less than €10 from the domaine. It has a soft mouth-filling texture of black fruits balanced with a fresh finish. Wines from Lamé Delisle Boucard have a remarkable propensity to age. See here a tasting of their Bourgueils back to 1893

WineFraud – home page

WineFraud – home page

New wine fraud – counterfeit site: WineFraud.com. This is a new site that concentrates mainly on the counterfeiting side of wine fraud. It is headed by Maureen Downey. Will be essential for readers of Les 5 du Vin, who regularly purchase old vintages of Romanée-Conti and the like. Further details next week.


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Astonishing! Bourgueil through three centuries: 2011 back to 1893

1947 thru to 1893.

1947 thru to 1893.

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!’

Our very generous hosts

Our very generous hosts


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Bourgueil vertical tasting: 100 overshadows 1893!


Bourgueil: 1947 to 1893

The September 2013 issue of Decanter magazine included my article on the ageing qualities of Loire Cabernet Franc, which was based in part by the remarkable tasting that Les 5 du Vin had enjoyed in the cellars of Lamé Delisle Boucard in early June 2012.

Decanter is always published at least a month in advance, so the September edition came out in late July when France was on holiday. It was only after La Rentrée that it was picked up in the Loire and, especially in Bourgueil.

I suppose I should not have ben surprised that it was the score of 100 points given to the 1893 Bourgueil from Lamé that made the news. Decanter has recently changed their policy to require points up to 100 to be awarded to wines cited in articles. Philippe Boucard of Lamé Delisle Boucard was contacted and interviewed by La Nouvelle République and Radio France Bleu.

Although when I take part in judging at wine competitions I use marks as I’m required to do, I prefer to avoid using marks and certainly never use them on Les 5 du Vin or Jim’s Loire. I have always found marks pretty meaningless – difficult to shoehorn a wine’s intrinsic qualities into a set of marks even before you consider the circumstances and ambiance, when it was drunk.

Although I’m delighted that the  ‘perfect score’ caught the media’s attention, I would have much preferred that it was the mythical bottle from 1893 that captured the attention in its own right rather than I gave it 100 points. It was an extraordinary occasion to climax an amazing tasting with a wine of 120, still in possession of its faculties.

The wine yes but more than that – a reflection on all the events that had taken place in Bourgueil, France and the world during that intervening period. A 100-points doesn’t start to cover that. It is entirely inadequate. It makes no more sense than noting railway engine numbers.

It would be good to think that the wine world and wine enthusiasts will one day overcome the addiction to scores – to hurl away the numerical crutch or at least take it down to the nearest charity shop.

1 Corinthians 13:11 sums it up perfectly: ‘When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.’


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Le marathon de fin janvier

Des photos, peu de texte

Roussillon concours Grenache 128

Cette année, c’est à Perpignan que tout a commencé. La veille de la Convention d’affaires autour des Rencontres du Muscat se tenait le premier Concours International des Grenaches du Monde. Ce style de compétition est dans l’air du temps, mais ce dernier me semble bien plus intéressant que celui du barbant Merlot ou de l’usant Sauvignon, sans parler de celui du Chasselas…

Roussillon concours Grenache 019

la belle couleur d’un Grenache ambré

Pour les résultats www.grenachesdumonde.com/fr

Le souci de cette première mouture, l’absence de pointures. Il y avait bien quelques belles bouteilles, mais les grands ténors du genre manquaient à l’appel. Mais ne faut-il pas toujours un round pour rire avant de se faire envahir par une nuée de flacons prestigieux ? Un vœu pieu, certes.

Les Grenaches venaient d’Australie, d’Afrique du Sud, du Brésil, d’Espagne, de France, d’Italie et de la République de Macédoine, soit 364 vins en compétition. L’avantage du Grenache ou plutôt des Grenache, c’est qu’ils existent en plusieurs couleurs et de l’effervescent au VDN;  de quoi ne pas s’ennuyer!

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Un vin incroyable! Il développe des amertumes sucrées superbes, j’y reviendrai, 1913 a été le dernier millésime mis en bouteille; le suivant, l’année prochaine, ce sera 1914 – une année particulière…

Millésime Bio 2013 (49)

Enchaînement avec Millésime Bio, déjà la 20ème  édition. Et sincèrement une montée en qualité assez remarquable. Quelques belles découvertes de cépages, de nouveautés, …

et quelques potes rencontrés

Florian Andre

Avec Frédéric David, Florian André a acheté 1 ha à Châteauneuf, ils l’ont coupé en deux et tiré au sort le côté à conduire

Frédéric David

Malgré le même terroir (derrière La Gardine), l’élevage différent en fait deux vins proches mais… différents

Passage au « off » de Palavas. Les offs sont un peu le sel des ins, ils se renforcent les uns les autres, drainent plus de visiteurs.

Millésime Bio 2013 (98)

Millésime Bio 2013 (104)

Vient après la Percée du Vin Jaune. Cette année, c’est le village de Voiteur au pied de Château-Chalon qui accueillait ce grand évènement jurassien.

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On y a connu toute les saisons, du matin ensoleillé à la fuite sous la neige fondante et la grêle mêlée, une expérience humide que j’ai trouvée amusante.  

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Le Salon des Vins de Loire termine le parcours avec une étape au off de Renaissance au Grenier St Jean. L’affluence y est toujours surprenante, l’ambiance fait penser au marché moyenâgeux, bigarrée, pleine de rencontres exaltantes.

Percée 2013 082

Michel Augé du Domaine des Maisons Brûlées

Le lendemain, le Salon, son Blog Wine Trophy, ses allées peuplées, et l’idée de déguster les satellites ligériens, de la Côte Roannaise au Gros Plant Nantais.

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Vincent bosse.

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Michel s’ennuie (et Dominique Hutin compatit)

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Nous, on déguste de la Côte Roannaise…

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ou ce superbe Gros Plant.

Percée 2013 134

Ou encore, clin d’œil, un vieux Bourgueuil 1974, chez Lamé Delisle Boucard (Johan Degroef, d’IVV, a l’air d’apprécier).


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