Les 5 du Vin

5 journalistes parlent du vin


6 Commentaires

The first edition of Loire Millésime: 19th – 22nd April 2017

BU0A1365 (1)The restored Abbaye de Fontevraud 

I have just returned from the first edition of Loire Millésime organised by Interloire. It was based in the now magnificently restored Abbey of Fontevraud. We were lodged in the attached L’Hotel de Fontevraud, which has also been extensively renovated and greatly improved since I stayed there some 12 years ago.

 Enjoying the abbey’s current magnificence it is strange to reflect that from the time of the French Revolution when the monks were thrown out and 1804 when Napoleon signed the order to make Fontevraud a prison that it was a jail for over 150 years.  The last prisoners did not leave until 1985.

Loire Millésime was based on a similar event in Languedoc that has been running for a number of years. It was a mix of tastings, master classes in both French and English as well as visits to vineyards and evening events – at Fontevraud, the Ackerman cellars in Saint Florent Saint Hilaire and an evening of tasting very fine Chenin in all its guises at the Domaine de Rocheville in Parnay.

I attended two master classes – one on the different types of ripeness/maturity in red grapes and the other on looking at the different qualities of sweet Chenin Blanc. Both were excellent.  

Unfortunately it was decided that the major tastings during the day – dry whites, rosés and reds – should be with rare exceptions from the 2016 vintage. Although interesting for people like myself who are able to spend a considerable time in the Loire and tasting these wines, it is virtually useless for someone who is rarely in the Loire and who has been brought to Fontevraud at considerable expense. Interloire had flown in a number of journalists from North America – why get them to taste a mass of unfinished wines? Unlike Bordeaux the Loire does not sell en primeur.

Sadly there was a spectre at our Loire celebration – frost. 2016 was marked by a series of frosts at the end of April and 2017 is very worryingly following a similar pattern. There were frosts during the nights of 18th/19th, 19th/20th and 20th/21st.

There has been damage in various appellations from Muscadet through to Pouilly-Fumé. For the moment not as widespread as in 2016, although obviously it is very serious for any producer seriously affected by frost. This is partly because the ground is very dry and also that attempts to combat frost in the Loire are becoming more sophisticated and more widespread. This includes new wind turbines in Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil and the use of helicopters in Montlouis as well as at Château de l’Aulée in Azay-le-Rideau.

The threat of frost is not yet over. Further low temperatures are forecast for this week. With a series of small vintages since 2012 Loire producers are desperately hoping to reduce frost damage to a minimum.

Fingers crossed!

jim-vinho-verde


Poster un commentaire

Jim’s off on an adventure: Amélie Neau

 


Amélie Neau, Domaine de Nerleux,
Saumur-Champigny, Saumur and Coteaux du Saumur

While I am away my Tuesday posts will be brief and prepared in advance using photos for some Loire producers. If my fellow Les 5 wish to add any other posts on my Tuesday slot they are very welcome to do so.

 

ring-for-wine


8 Commentaires

Jim’s off on an adventure: The Luneau-Papins

Pierre-Marie, Marie, Monique et Pierre Luneau 

(Domaine Pierre Luneau–Papin) with the 2014 Muscadet juice

 


Pierre-Marie listening to the 2014…. 

While I am away my Tuesday posts will be brief and prepared in advance using photos for some Loire producers. If my fellow Les 5 wish to add any other posts on my Tuesday slot they are very welcome to do so.

 

jbglassescrps


Poster un commentaire

Jim’s off on adventure: Philippe Delesvaux


Philippe Delesvaux,
Domaine Philippe Delesvaux, Anjou

While I am away my Tuesday posts will be brief and prepared in advance using photos for some Loire producers. If my fellow Les 5 wish to add any other posts on my Tuesday slot they are very welcome to do so.

ring-for-wine


6 Commentaires

Au bout d’une semaine dense, le Schioppettino de Davide Moschioni

Il y a des semaines comme cela.  A vrai dire, il y en a beaucoup quand on aime le vin et qu’on a la chance d’être confronté à des occasions très diverses qui tournent autour de cette boisson magique. Tout n’y est pas rose et fait de bonheur pur, bien entendu, et il fait aussi tenir le rythme sans (trop) perdre la boussole. La semaine passée est un exemple parmi d’autres. Elle inclut aussi des journées au bureau à écrire, préparer des travaux à venir, rédiger comptes-rendus et mails et gérer le quotidien de toute petite entreprise, plus une réunion à l’extérieur, quelques dégustations programmées ou improvisées et une journée de formation dispensée le samedi.

Lundi soir, dîner chez un membre (généreux, comme vous allez le voir) d’un des cercles d’amateurs de vins que j’anime. A l’apéritif, Dom Pérignon 1988 en magnum, puis 1982 en bouteilles : les deux extraordinaires, peut-être surtout le 1982 ce soir-là, même si le 1988 ira probablement plus loin dans le temps. Servis dans des verres que je n’aurai pas choisis pour de tels vins, mais quelle finesse et quelle puissance pour des Champagnes de ces âges!

Au repas qui a suivi, d’abord un Corton-Charlemagne 2005 de Bouchard Père et Fils, qui m’a semblé un poil fatigué. Problème de bouchon pas assez étanche, probablement ; en tout cas en deçà du niveau habituel des grand blancs de cette estimable Maison. Ensuite, Calon-Ségur 1990 en double magnum : un vin très ferme et carré, encore trop jeune et un poil austère à mon goût, mais impressionnant. Puis Beychevelle 1945 : je l’aurai servi avant le Saint-Estèphe car il est sur le déclin avec de jolies restes, tout en élégance mais un peu dominé par l’acidité maintenant. Puis, avec le fromage, un Porto Taylors Vintage 1968, très fin, très suave, encore très fruité mais sans la puissance habituelle de Vintages de ce producteur. Avec le dessert, un Quarts de Chaume, Château de Suronde 1989 : très beau. Nous avons fini avec un magnifique Armagnac Laberdolive de 1937, puis retour à la maison en métro. Même pas mal !

Mardi soir, travail pour animer une soirée du Wine & Business Club et présenter à 150 personnes deux vins peut-être pas très bien connus mais de très belle qualité et que je bois avec autant de plaisir que certains des précédents. Premièrement, le Château de Fontenay, près de Tours, avec des Touraine et Touraine-Chenonceaux que je trouve aussi fins et précis que plaisants et très abordables en prix. Deuxièmement un vin des Costières de Nîmes à l’étiquette moderne et à la qualité irréprochable: le Domaine de Scamandre.

Mercredi soir, relâche.

Jeudi midi, déjeuner/dégustation pour un club pour lequel je présentais 3 vins de Bordeaux issus de ma sélection personnelle parmi les Talents de Bordeaux Supérieur du millésime 2014, plus un blanc de la même région en apéritif. Ces vins se vendent au détail entre 6,50 et 10,50 euros la bouteille et sont, pour moi, parmi les meilleurs rapports qualité/prix disponibles en France aujourd’hui. Le blanc se nomme Château Lauduc Classic blanc 2016, les trois vins rouges Château Lacombe-Cadiot 2014 (un des rares vins de cette appellation né dans la région médocaine),  Château l’Insoumise, cuvée Prestige 2014 (un Bordeaux Sup de la rive droite, près de St. André de Cubzac), et Château Moutte Blanc 2014, un autre Bordeaux Sup qui vient du Médoc, tout près de Margaux, un très beau vin de palus qui contient 25% de petit verdot.

Le jeudi soir, deuxième soirée de la semaine pour un autre club du Wine & Business Club à Paris, cette fois-ci avec des vins étrangers : les excellents Tokaji du Domaine Holdvölgy, et les vins de Sonoma de Francis Ford Coppola, issus de sa série Director’s Cut, tous les deux importés en France par South World Wines. Beaucoup d’intensité dans le Tokay sec de Holdvölgy, qui, pour une fois, n’est pas fait avec le Furmint mais avec l’autre cépage important de l’appellation, le Hárslevelű, et un magnifique liquoreux (mais pas un aszú : il s’agit d’un assemblage entre un szamorodni et un aszú, je crois). Tout bon partout, pour faire court. Coppola présentait un Chardonnay, un Cabernet Sauvignon et un Zinfandel.

Vendredi matin, repos, course à pied et gym; vendredi soir, relâche.

Samedi, formation toute la journée pour un groupe de 16 personnes, surtout amateurs mais aussi trois professionnels, qui se sont inscrits à l’Académie du Vin de Paris pour le Niveau 1 du cursus WSET.

La fine équipe (il manque juste Sébastien Durand-Viel qui donnait un cours ce jour-là) de notre école, l’Académie du Vin de Paris, à Londres quand cette école fut élue, début 2016, parmi les 8 meilleurs formateurs des 650 qui dispensent les cours WSET au monde.

Le samedi soir, retour à la maison où j’ai dégusté, de ma cave, le vin qui m’a fait peut-être le plus grand plaisir de tous ceux de la semaine. Je sais bien que le moment est important dans l’appréciation d’un vin : le fait de ne pas être dans une situation de travail, de se sentir relaxé et tout cela. Mais ce vin rouge m’a semblé intense et très agréable, plein sans être surpuissant, solidement bâti mais également très fruité. Et cela, malgré ou à cause d’un âge qui est respectable sans être canonique : 13 ans. Ce vin, je l’ai dégusté à différents stades de sa vie, car j’en avais acheté une caisse en 2005 lors d’un voyage en Italie pour le compte de la Revue de Vin de France, qui éditait à l’époque chaque année un cahier spécial sur les vins italiens . Il ne m’a jamais semblé aussi bien que maintenant. C’est le vin du titre de cet article et le voici :

Moschioni, Schioppettino (non filtrato) 2003, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Italia

 Davide Moschioni, Vignaiuolo in Gagliano di Cividale del Friuli

D’abord, un mot sur cette variété qui a été sauvée de la disparition dans les années 1970, à l’instar d’autres variétés locales comme le Pignolo ou le Tazzelenghe. Elle n’était même pas autorisée à la plantation avant 1981 ! On en trouve des deux côtés des la frontière actuelle entre le Friuli d’Italie et la Slovénie, et elle possède, logiquement, plusieurs synonymes : Pocalza en Slovénie, Ribolla Nera en Italie (mais il n’a pas de lien avec la Ribolla Gialla). Le terme Schioppettino signifierait « croustillant », soit parce que sa peau donne cette sensation (il s’agit effectivement d’une variété tannique), soit parce qu’il aurait été vinifié à une époque en vin frizzante. Le statut de DOC lui fut accordé en 1987, aussi bien en Colli Orientali del Friuli qu’en Friuli Isonzo, mais on le trouve aussi en IGT Venezia Giulia. Heureuse sauvetage, comme nous allons le voir !

Robe très dense et étonnamment jeune, avec ses bords encore d’un ton rubis malgré son âge qui devient respectable. Le bouchon, en revanche, laisse à désirer sur le plan de l’étanchéité car je constate des remontées du vin jusqu’à deux tiers de sa longueur. Il était temps d’ouvrir ce flacon! Le nez présente en effet un petit coup d’oxydation au départ, avant de me plonger dans des eaux profondes d’une masse très dense de fruits noirs, de cigare et de cerises à l’eau de vie. C’est assez entêtant ! Les tanins qui furent très denses dans sa jeunesse commencent à bien se fondre. Ils sont encore croquants et bien présents, donnant une belle colonne vertébrale à cette masse impressionnante et très qualitative de fruit sombre. Tout cela donne une belle sensation de plénitude, remplissant la bouche sans aucunement l’agresser. Le vin atteint son équilibre par une belle sensation de fraîcheur en finale et cette touche d’amertume si caractéristique de bon nombre de vins italiens.

C’est un vin à la forte personnalité, mais qui sait aussi séduire par la remarquable qualité de son fruit et constitue un excellent choix pour un vin de garde.

Je constate que ce vin vaut maintenant entre 35 et 50 euros la bouteille, selon le pays en Europe. J’ai dû l’acheter un peu moins cher à l’époque, sur place. Il n’est pas distribué en France, à ma connaissance.

David

PS. Aujourd’hui, dimanche, repos le matin, écriture puis gym l’après-midi, puis direction le Stade Jean Bouin ce soir pour soutenir le Stade Français contre Toulon. Allez les soldats roses qui ont su résister au grand méchant Capital cher à Léon !


3 Commentaires

Lunch in the footsteps of Henry James

bonlaboureurcloseup
Le Bon Laboureur – long established and easily
the best restaurant and hotel
in the popular village of Chenonceaux 

On our last Monday at the end of our recent stay in the Loire we spoiled ourselves by lunching at Le Bon Laboureur in Chenonceaux. Here we were following in the footsteps of the writer Henry James, who was born in America but who spent much of the latter part of his life in Europe. In his Little Tour in France James describes a very comfortable and congenial meal, in his case dinner, he and his companions enjoyed at Le Bon Laboureur:

A Little Tour in France by Henry James
(originally published as a serial in 1883-1884)

Chapter 7

Chenonceaux

Here are two extracts that feature Le Bon Laboureur as it was towards the end of the 19th Century

Extract 1:
‘In going from Tours you leave the valley of the Loire and enter that of the Cher, and at the end of about an hour you see the turrets of the castle on your right, among the trees, down in the meadows, beside the quiet little river. The station and the village are about ten minutes’ walk from the château, and the village contains a very tidy inn, where, if you are not in too great a hurry to commune with the shades of the royal favourite and the jealous queen, you will perhaps stop and order a dinner to be ready for you in the evening.’

In between this extract and the one below Henry James describes his visit the Château de Chenonceaux. He spells both the village and the château ending in an x. Today the château is written without an x. Although one might be inclined to think that James made an error in adding an x to the château this may not be the case as some of the pictures showing the château in the past use an x in the spelling.

Wikipedia, as opposed to Wikileaks, suggests that it was Louise Dupin de Francueil, the château’s owner during the French Revolution, who dropped the x in order to show that the château was royal. Apparently there are no official papers to confirm this story. However, James was writing years after the Revolution.

Anyway it strikes me as rather strange that in revolutionary times you would want to stress a building’s royal pedigree. Instead it seems to me much more logical and more prudent not to draw attention to your splendid château spanning the Cher in case marauding revolutionaries either set up camp there or razed the building to the ground. Anyway what do I know for Chenonceau, however it was spelled, survived the Revolution unscathed. 

IMG_1721

Eglise-Francueil1s
The church in neighbouring Francueil

Extract 2:
‘Venice a year and a half before. We took our way back to the Bon Laboureur, and waited in the little inn-parlour for a late train to Tours. We were not impatient, for we had an excellent dinner to occupy us; and even after we had dined we were still content to sit awhile and exchange remarks upon the superior civilisation of France. Where else, at a village inn, should we have fared so well? Where else should we have sat down to our refreshment without condescension? There were a couple of countries in which it would not have been happy for us to arrive hungry, on a Sunday evening, at so modest an hostelry. At the little inn at Chenonceaux the cuisine was not only excellent, but the service was graceful. We were waited on by mademoiselle and her mamma; it was so that mademoiselle alluded to the elder lady as she uncorked for us a bottle of Vouvray mousseux. We were very comfortable, very genial; we even went so far as to say to each other that Vouvray mousseux was a delightful wine. From this opinion indeed one of our trio differed; but this member of the party had already exposed herself to the charge of being too fastidious by declining to descend from the carriage at Chaumont and take that back-stairs view of the castle.’

•••

Back in February we three were certainly ‘very comfortable’, ‘very genial’ and ‘the cuisine was not only excellent, but the service (led by Fabrice and his team) was graceful’. I’m not sure that James’ ‘so modest an hostelry’ is still apt. The 21st century Le Bon Laboureur is very comfortable with an airy and light dining room. There was a time was it was a little dark and gloomy but that has long gone. It is true, however, the building is modest in comparison to Touraine’s grand châteaux hotels like Artigny and La Rochecotte  but Le Laboureur has a Michelin star and they don’t.

We chose the Menu du Marché, which is available only at lunchtime and not on Sunday. At 32€ for three fine listed courses it is excellent value, especially by the time you add in all the extra treats – canapés, mise en bouche, pre-dessert et mignardises – it is more like eight or nine courses!

IMG_3290   Excellent 2010 100% Côt (outside Touraine sometimes called Malbec)
from Domaine de la Chapinière, AC Touraine

IMG_3291

2010 Touraine Côt, Domaine de la Chapinière

First courses:

IMG_3308Tartine de légumes, magret fumé, faisselle de chèvre

IMG_3311Velouté de lentilles, champignons & lardons

Main course:

IMG_3312Epaule d’agneau confite 72 heures, jus d’agneau et crème d’ail

Desserts:

IMG_3316Praliné-chocolat, crème Amaretto

IMG_3319Gratin aux agrumes & ananas, sorbet orange sanguine

jbglassescrps

ring-for-wine


2 Commentaires

2016 Loire – to have and have not

img_6570

Sancerre town rises above the mist – viewed from the Côte des Monts Damnés

img_6578

Layers of mist highlighting the main road from Sancerre to Bourges – the line of trees

Today I am am following on from last week’s post The Agony & the Ecstasy covering the nearly two days we spent in Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and briefly Menetou-Salon early last week.

If there is any Loire appellation that could stand a difficult and virtually non-existent vintage, it is Sancerre. Instead, if there is any substantial Ligerian appellation that has come through this ‘very complicated year’ relatively unscathed it is Sancerre. Indeed there appear to be a good number of Sancerre producers who have enjoyed a normal to bumper crop in 2016.

« It’s almost scandalous! » admitted Philippe Prieur of Domaine Paul Prieur in Verdigny.

Sancerre – the haves:

img_6535



Paul and Benoît Fouassier
 (Sancerre)
We started on Monday 3rd October and finished on the 14th. Our Sauvignon Blanc was hit by frost, coulure and then the drought with a significant amount of these grapes burnt by the heat of July and August. We haven’t fully calculated the yields yet but it is between 30hl-40hl per ha for Sauvignon Blanc with the fruit between 12-13 potential alcohol with acidity varying from 4.5- 4.8. The acidity levels are higher than 2015 but lower than 2014.

The Pinot Noir fared better both at flowering and from the heat of the summer, so yields of 42 hl/ha and 13.5% potential alc.

Henry Natter (Montigny)
Unlike many other Sancerre producers who had finished or were just finishing, Henry Natter was in the middle of picking but well satisfied with the quantity and quality of the 2016 vintage. Often one of the last in the appellation to picky Natter still had another five days of harvest to do.

Vincent and Adélaïde Grall (Sancerre)
The Gralls were decidedly happy with 2016. Vincent: « We finished last Wednesday (12th October) having started on the 3rd October. Our Sauvignon is between 11.5-12.5. Following the rain towards the end of September the grapes have plenty of juice, so we have made 65 hl/ha.

Alphonse Mellot (Sancerre)
Alphonse Mellot jnr: « We finished last Friday (14th). The Sancerre reds are exceptional – 14% potential alcohol and between 4.5-5 acidity with a yield of 28 hl/ha. » This is not low for the Mellot reds as low Pinot Nor yields are customary here.  « The whites are between 12%-14% alc with yields between 50-55 hl/ha. However, it is a very different story for the Mellot vineyards in the Côte de la Charité, which were hit by the April frosts. « For the Chardonnay it is 6 hl/ha, while for the Pinot Noir we picked just 4 hl/ha. »

Matthieu and Jean-Yves Delaporte, Domaine Vincent Delaporte (Chavignol)
I caught up with Matthieu and his father Jean-Yves early on Monday evening when they were finshing sorting over their last cases of Pinot Noir. Both were well pleased with the 2016 – 60hl/ha for the whites and 50 hl/ha for the reds.

Pierre Martin (Chavignol) 
« It’s a good vintage. We started on Wednesday 5th October and finished yesterday (17th October). The rain in mid to end of September was crucial after the long dry spell in July, August and early September. Our Sauvignon Blanc is between 12-13% potential alc and 4-4.3 acidity, while the Pinot Noir is at 13% potential. Yields are between 55-60 hl/ha.

Gérard Boulay (Chavignol)
Gérard was also happy  with 2016. « We started on Monday 3rd October and finished on Sunday 16th. Our white Sancerre is between 12%-13.5%, while the Pinot is at 13.5%. There is a lot of tartaric acid this year – the recent fresh nights have been good for maintaining acidity. Yields are between 45/50 hl/ha. The Cul de Beaujeu is particularly good. »

Domaine Paul Prieur (Verdigny)
Luc Prieur: « We started on Monday 3rd October and finished on Friday 14th. » Luc is very happy with the quality of 2016. « Our Sauvignon came in at between 12%-12.5% potential and 4.7 to 5 acidity with a yield between 55-60 hl/ha, while the Pinot is at 13.6%-14% and 50 hl/ha. Some of our Pinot suffered from mildew and sunburn during the heat of July and August.

François Crochet (Bué)
François and Karine Crochet are also very happy with their 2016. François: « We started on Friday 30th September having got special permission to start early. Yields for the Sauvignon are between 45-50 hl with a potential around 12% and 5 gms acidity. We had to pick our Pinot twice as grapes facing south got burnt by the sun. We picked these first to make rosé. These grapes came in at 13.3%. The rest we picked a little later for our Sancerre Rouge and were up to 14% potential. The Pinot yield is around 35-40 hl/ha. »

François likens 2016 to the 2014s, while a number of other Sancerre producers put 2016 between 2014 and 2015 in style, so having some of the richness of 2015 but more acidity than 15 and less than 14. Certainly the juices that I tasted appeared promising – clean, mouth-filling with a freshness in the finish.

 

 

The have nots

img_6592

Above Les Loges, Pouilly-Fumé 

Pouilly-Fumé:



Jonathan Pabiot (Les Loges, Pouilly-sur-Loire)
« Overall we lost 65% of the crop including all of our Chasselas. We started on Monday 3rd October and finished on 13th. The communes of Saint Martin, Saint-Laurent and to the south of Pouilly-sur-Loire – the southern part of the appellation – was particularly badly hit by the frost. In some of our parcels where we normally harvest 50 hl/ha we only managed 5 hl/ha, while in the commune of Tracy we picked 35hl/ha. Fortunately our best parcels escaped the frost. »

Michel Redde et Fils (Pouilly-sur-Loire)
Sébastien Redde: « It has been a very complicated year. Of our 42 hectares, 10ha have recorded a total loss – no more than 2 ha/ha, 5 hectares were hit between 20%-50% by the frost here we averaged 15 hl/ha.  After the April frosts the mildew ravaged two hectares with a 90% loss. Overall we have made 30 hl/ha but the quality is good.

Masson-Blondelet (Pouilly-sur-Loire)
Pierre-François Masson: « Some of our Pouilly-Fumé parcels were badly hit. In those in the commune of St Martin we only picked 7.5 hl/ha and the same for those in Pouilly. However, our vines in Saint-Andelain were not hit by the frost. We are happy with what we picked in Sancerre – 45 hl/ha, while for the Pinot it was down – 25 hl/ha compared to around 40 hl/ha in a normal year. Unfortunately we will have to restrict allocations. »

Menetou-Salon

Domaine Philippe Gilbert
Menetou-Salon is among the worst hit by the April frost of the Loire appellations and Philippe Gilbert is no exception. « In a normal vintage we make 500hl of both red and white, so 1000 hls. This year we have 17 hls of rosé, between 60-70 hls of red and between 60 – 68 hls of white. » This adds up to around 150-160 hls in 2016. – 15% of a normal year. » The fact that the quality in 2016 is high must, of course, be particularly galling.

Philippe will not be going to Millésime Bio in January 2017. « There is no point in me going just to explain that I have no wine to sell! » he says.

•••

Today we cross La Manche and return to to Madame May’s lunatic asylum – no further comment required!

img_2140