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For the Cellar: 2017 Guion, Bourgueil

It was Bill who reintroduced me to the wines of Stephane Guion at his Loire tasting a year and a half back.  I am happy to report that the 2017 Domaine Guion, Cuvee Domaine, Bourgueil is serious wine at a budget price.  Right now, since the wine is young, I find it tastes best on the second night when the black fruit takes on creamy blue flavors and tastes of liquid stones.  There is also a touch of herbaceousness to remind you of the Loire.  You may find this wine at MacArthur Beverages.

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2017 Domaine Guion, Cuvee Domaine, Bourgueil – $15
Imported by Percy Selections.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from 15-40 year old vines on clay and limestone soils.  Alcohol 12%.  Upon opening, there is acidity driven, tart black fruit and herbaceous flavor.  Fine, grippy tannins are left on the gums with impressions of a little ethereal fat.  With air, the wine improves markedly, becoming rounder with good presence.  The black and herbaceousness does not leave but blue, creamy fruit and granite stones add to the mixture.  It is even a little juicy.  **(*) 2020-2025.

A thorough introduction to Loire wines: 2011-1979

December 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Bill is passionate about Loire wines, top quality producers none the less, which was evident at a tasting he hosted at his house.  The wines largely came from his cellar making a parade of heavy hitters, cult favorites, and new discoveries.  As an introduction there were bottles of sparkling wine, white wine, red wine, and dessert wine.

There were sadly a number of off bottles but with a vast array to try (I missed at least one bottle) there were still some top-notch bottles.  This includes the 2009 Domaine Guiberteau, Saumur Blanc Clos des Carmes Monopole as my favorite white wine.  This is a tense, engaging wine which combines stone and fruit.  For the reds, individual favorites include the mature 2010 Clos Rougeard, Saumur Champigny and youthful 2010 Plouzeau, Ante Phylloxera, Touraine Clos de Maulevrier Franc de Pied.  I can see why Rougeard is a cult favorite, the mature flavors are infused with fat and drape over the tongue.  The Plouzeau is electric and young, it should be fully open in three to five years.

My favorite flight of all is a quartet of Olga Raffault, Chinon Les Picasses: 1990, 1989, 1985, and 1979.  What a unique opportunity!  What I like is the consistent theme of fruit, without any green pepper notes, and complexity from earthy flavors.  The 1989 offers so much more than the 1990.  The original release 1985 is a treat with more color and texture.  It is easy to connect with this bottle because it is not so squeaky clean.  The 1979 is elegant and autumnal.  It is the sort of wine to drink at lunch or by oneself reading a book next to a fire.

A trio of Huet Vouvray dessert wines includes a maturing 1985 Domaine Huet, Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux.  The nose is an interesting mix of apples and seaside with a heavily textured mouth.  Our bottle of 1989 Domaine Huet,Vouvray Cuvee Constance also has a killer nose but it is dialed down tight in the mouth.  The drier 1989 Domaine Huet, Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux Premiere Trie is also young.  Perhaps it is the state of the 1989 vintage.  All three wines smell great so who knows!?

Thanks again to Bill for hosting.  Without his generosity I would still be the rare soul who had never tasted the Loire greats of Dagueneau, Clos Rougeard, and others.

Flight #1 – Sparkling

2010 Domaine Huet, Vouvray Petillant Brut
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 12.5%. There is a fine bubble grip with slightly round flavors of light yellow fruit and chalk. It is minerally and a touch earthy.  *** Now – 2020.

NV Francois Chidaine, Montluis sur Loire Méthode Traditionelle Brut
Imported by Dionysos Imports. Alcohol 12%. A little gamey on the nose. In the mouth are finer, more aggressive bubbles. The flavors are oxidative and the finish is sour.  Underperforming? * Drink up.

Flight #2 – White Wines

2000 Nicolas Joly, Clos de la Coulee de Serrant
Imported by Paterno Imports. Alcohol 13.5%. A darker gold-copper color. The heavier nose makes way to a focus start then short and weird flavors. Bad bottle.  Not Rated.

2007 Didier Dagueneau, Pouilly-Fume Silex
Imported by Connoisseur Wines. Alcohol 12.5%. There are fine, ripe chalky flavors, texture, and a weighty middle which builds towards the finish. It wraps up with a vintage perfume finish.  ***(*) Now – 2023.

2009 Domaine Guiberteau, Saumur Blanc Clos des Carmes Monopole
A Becky Wasserman Selection imported by Frederick Wildman. Alcohol 12%. A flinty wine with tart yellow fruit and a vein of acidity which makes for attractive tension. My favorite.  **** Now – 2027.

2011 Clos Rougeard, Saumur Blanc Breze
An aromatic nose with a touch of apricot and cheese. Different. It is simpler in the mouth, tight with a vein of acidity. It remains tight when warm. Drinkable but not the best bottle.  ** Now.

Flight #3 – 2010 Reds

2010 Catherine & Pierre Breton, Bourgueil Franc de Pied
Imported by Kermit Lynch. Alcohol 12%. The color is a little purple. A finely scented nose of clean green pepper. In the mouth this is a fine, focused wine with dry and tight flavors. With air it remains a lighter weighted wine but becomes a touch creamy. Good citric grip.  ***(*) Now – 2027.

2010 Chateau de Fosse-Seche, Saumur Eolithe
Alcohol 12.5%. There is a deeper core of color with hints of brick. Initial aromas are of old-school perfume but then nail polish comes out.  Not right.  Not Rated.

2010 Bernard Baudry, Chinon Les Croix Boisee
Bad bottle! Not Rated.

2010 Clos Rougeard, Saumur Champigny Les Poyeux
Alcohol 12.5%. There are darker berries on the perfumed somewhat alcoholic nose. The mouth filling wine is luxurious with a creamy edge and zippy acidity. Certainly a big wine but ultimately simple compared to the basic Saumur Champigny.  *** Now – 2020.

2010 Clos Rougeard, Saumur Champigny
Alcohol 12.5%. A good, mature nose. The flavors drape on the tongue with a cranberry-grape grip. The core of berry flavors remains focus but takes on a coating of fat. My favorite of the flight. **** Now – 2023.

2010 Domaine Guion, Bourgueil Cuvee des Deux Monts
Imported by Fruits of the Vines. Alcohol 12.5%. A grapey color. The nose is tight with berried perfume. In the mouth the wine keeps right focus with fine, tannic, and young flavors. There is a green pepper note and salivating acidity. Needs time.  *** 2020 – 2027.

2010 Plouzeau, Ante Phylloxera, Touraine Clos de Maulevrier Franc de Pied
Imported by Weygant-Metzler. Alcohol 13%. The nose tilts towards the richer side. There is good flavor, a bit citric, and electric acidity. It sports good weight, an attractive sweaty note, and will clearly age. **** Now – 2030.

Flight #4 – 1996 Bourdeaux versus Loire Guessing Game

1996 Joguet, Les Varennes du Grand Clos
Slightly stinky on the nose yet good. More engaging in the mouth but overall a bad bottle! Not Rated.

1996 Chateau Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Medoc
Much darker in color. An harmonious wine. It is brighter in the mouth than the nose indicates. With air, ripe hints of flavor come out yet the wine maintains focus. Clearly Bordeaux.  *** Now – 2023.

Flight #5 – Olga Raffault

1990 Olga Raffault, Chinon Les Picasses
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Library release. This is tart with red and black fruit flavors. It ultimately reveals less fruit intensity. It sports a touch of animale and a hint of earth which adds interest. Overall this is a tangy wine. ** Now – 2023.

1989 Olga Raffault, Chinon Les Picasses
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Library release. There is more dense fruit compared to the 1990. It is clean, dense, and slightly earthy with cinnamon spices in the aftertaste. Watering acidity. This will clearly go on for ages. **** Now – 2032.

1985 Olga Raffault, Chinon Les Picasses
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Original release. Alcohol 12.5%. This is good and much different than the 1989 and 1990. There are impressions of more texture making the wine feel substantive. The wine is earthy with a wood stem note, and vintage perfume.  Drinking well. **** Now – 2025.

1979 Olga Raffault, Chinon Les Picasses
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Library release. In fine form. This is tangy, lighter than the others with a clean cut. There is a fair amount of acidity.  Elegant and autumnal.  ***(*) Now – 2022.

Flight #6 – Respect the Legend

1985 Domaine Huet, Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux
Imported by Robert Chadderdon Selections. A dark, apricot amber. The nose smells of tart apples and the sea side, quite nice. In the mouth there is up front texture back the apple orchard flavors. The citric acidity is prominent but the wine is weighty. A fair amount of mouth feel.  **** Now – 2037.

1989 Domaine Huet,Vouvray Cuvee Constance
Imported by Envoyer Imports. A golden amber color. The nose offers up electric aromas. In the mouth there is clearly more residual sugar in this dense wine with flavors of dried fruit. It remains tight so cellar it.  **** 2023 – 2043.

1989 Domaine Huet, Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux Premiere Trie
Imported by Elenteny Imports. Alcohol 13%. A golden amber color. Apple orchard on the nose with acidity driven, drier flavors in the mouth. It is weighty, clean, and sports acidity.  A baby!  ***(*) 2023 – 2043.

An Earthy Bourgueil from Damien Lorieux

The Lorieux family have been tending vines and making wine since 1976.  Third generation and Bordeaux educated Damien Lorieux now produces the wines.  My excellent introduction to his wines came in the form of the 2014 Domaine Damien Lorieux, Tuffeaux, Bourgueil.  This wine offers dark fruit made complex from an earthy note which is delivered in a dry, ethereal manner.  While it is attractive now, it should develop over the next year to provide satisfaction over the short-term.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2014 Domaine Damien Lorieux, Tuffeaux, Bourgueil – $15
Imported by Bird Rock Imports.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from gravel terraces along with clay and limestone slopes.  It was aged for 12 months in stainless steel tanks. Alcohol 13%.  The deep nose offers bright, grapey fruit aromas that mix with a touch of earth.  In the mouth are structured flavors of dark red and black fruit that exist in a dry and ethereal manner.  The mouth follows the nose, adding a subtle dry structure and a bit of a chewy finish.  It should develop over the short-term.  **(*) Now – 2020.

The must-try 2010 Yannick Amirault, Les Quartiers, Bourgueil

November 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Yannick Amirault has been tending the family vineyard and making wine since 1977.  Today he is joined by his son Ben and focuses exclusively on Cabernet Franc.   The 2010 Yannick Amirault, Les Quartiers, Bourgueil is produced from the 1.5 ha vineyard known as La terre à Blanc due to the chalk soils.  The 45-year old vines are hand harvested then whole-cluster fermented in wooden vats followed by aging for 30 months in barrel.  These efforts have produced a wine with deep aromas and mouth filling flavors of dense and textured dark fruit.  The long aging in barrel is supportive rather than intrusive for this is a wine that will clearly improve over the next several years yet it is quite enjoyable right now.   Those who stay away from the red wines of the Loire should reevaluate with this bottle.  Thanks to Warren for the recommendation.  This wine was purchased at Weygandt Wines.

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2010 Yannick Amirault, Les Quartiers, Bourgueil – $28
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc that was fermented in wooden vats using indigenous yeasts.  Alcohol 13%.  There were deep aromas of blackberries and fresh pepper.  In the mouth were dense, finely textured flavors that took on notes of plum.  The wine was racy with watering acidity and a drying finish of purple and black fruit.  Though this dense wine is poised for future development it is already mouth-filling with perfumed flavors and a complex aftertaste of bitters. ***(*) Now-2024.

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Recent Rosé

I clearly love drinking red wine so when the weather warms up I have an affinity for rosé over white wine.  I prefer an inexpensive wine with red fruit, crispness, and some juicy acidity.  In this vein you cannot go wrong with the 2013 Mas Des Bressades, Cuvee Tradition Rosé, Costeries de Nimes or the 2013 Domaine de Mourchon, Loubié Rosé, Cotes du Rhone Villages Seguret. I prefer to begin my evening with a glass while I prepare dinner or clean some dishes.  So I was shocked by the intense acidity of the 2013 Bernard Baudry, Chinon Rosé.  In fact it was so powerful I literally could not take more than one sip.  Far more preferable was the 2013 Domaine Breton, La Ritounelle, Bourgueil Rosé Sec which was more thought provoking than thirst-quenching.  Priced at the highest-end of the range is the 2013 Robert Sinsky Vineyards, Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Carneros.  The color was matched by delicate floral aromas and flavors.  It is an attractive rosé but bear in mind you may purchase both the Brassdes and Mourchon for the cost of one bottle.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 Mas Des Bressades, Cuvee Tradition Rosé, Costeries de Nimes – $12
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault.  Alcohol 13.5%.  A vibrant cran-cherry color.  There were cherries and fruity raspberry candy on the nose.  In the mouth were firm, hard cherry fruit which had a touch of ripeness.  This ripeness was delicate, mixing with perfumed flavors, and fresh texture in the finish.  With air the wine became slightly rounder with supporting acidity and pastille flavors in the aftertaste.  Satisfying.  ** Now-2015.

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2013 Domaine de Mourchon, Loubié Rosé, Cotes du Rhone Villages Seguret – $13
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah sourced from 40 year old vines.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The flavors of firm cherry and strawberry mix with good acidity.  ** Now-2015.

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2013 Bernard Baudry, Chinon Rosé – $19
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 12.5%.  The citric red fruit is immediately followed by a tremendous amount of quality acidity.  Literally impossible to drink on its own until the fifth night.  This clearly needs food and is not my style.  * Now.

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2013 Domaine Breton, La Ritounelle, Bourgueil Rosé Sec – $23
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc.   Alcohol 12%.  There were tart red fruit flavors that were drier.  Combined with the juicy acidity this wine had a lot of presence.  Though the flavors were lighter there was a sense of strength before the stone notes in the firm finish.  ** Now-2016.

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2013 Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Carneros – $27
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.  Alcohol 13.1%.  The color was of pale dried roses.  The nose revealed delicate floral aromas.  In the mouth were floral fruit flavors and acidity at the back of the throat.  There was a little grip to these delicate flavors followed by a firm finish.  Drank well over several nights.  ** Now-2016.

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Cabernet Franc from Bourgueil both Grafted and Ungrafted

Both of these wines are produced from Cabernet Franc in Bourgueil. As a result of the devastating 19th Phylloxera epidemic, the vast majority of the European wines I drink are made from vines grafted on American rootstock. Indeed this is the case of the bottle from Domaine Guion which is made from 35-80 year old vines. Some producers such as Catherine & Pierre Breton produce small amounts of wine from ungrafted vines. In France these wines are known as Franc de Pied. In 2000 the Breton’s planted a very small parcel of ungrafted vines from cuttings from their own vines. This parcel is next to Les Galichets. Both of these wines were quite nice with the Domaine Guion showing remarkable quality for the price. I recently raved over the 2010 Breton, Beaumont, Chinon (you may read about it here) so I was very excited to try the 2010 Breton, Franc de Pied. It had lovely earthy fruit and on the first night I really had the impression that this wine would develop for several years and easily drink well for a decade. It was my favorite of the two. On the second night it took a turn by losing quite a lot of steam. In retrospect I should have tasted it alongside the Les Galichets to get a sense of the terroir and maybe the ungrafted quality so I cannot comment on that. For those curious about trying a Franc de Pied wine it is certainly a worthy selection but it ultimately remained less moving than the excellent Beaumont from Chinon. The Domaine Guian was purchased at Chambers Street Wines and the Domaine Breton at MacArthur Beverages.

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2011 Domaine Guion, Cuvee Domaine, Bourgueil – $12
Imported by Fruits of Vine. This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from 35-80 year old vines which were fermented with indigenous yeasts. It sees only neutral oak. Alcohol 12%. The color was a light, grapey purple. The light to medium strength nose had a good, deep scent of stones along with blue and black fruit. On the second night there was a pepper aroma. In the mouth the flavors followed the nose with tart acidity then a touch of ripeness. On the second night it developed finely textured black and red fruit in the finish with fine+ tannins in the aftertaste. While best on the first night it was still strong on the second. *** Now-2017.

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2010 Catherine & Pierre Breton, Franc de Pied, Bourgueil – $32
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from a 0.12 hectare parcel of ungrafted 12-year-old vines located on soils of gravelly sand. The fruit is fermented with indigenous yeasts and is aged for one year in stainless steel. Alcohol 12% The color was a medium purple ruby with a bit of cloudy sediment towards the end. The nose was earthy with mixed berries. In the mouth there were gently ripe and focused black fruit which became puckering in the finish There were drying firm tannins in the finish. With air a little dry pepper note came out along with raspberry flavors. The aftertaste became lifted with a little scented, ripe and earthy flavor. There was an engaging darkness and some racy quality. On the second night the wine was much earthier with red and yeasty flavors. It seems to lack vigor and did not hold up as well. *** Now-2022.

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A Pair from Bourgueil

September 20, 2012 Leave a comment

I have rather enjoyed the wines of Bourgueil as of late.  They are fresh with good acidity which is never overwhelming and posses a seriousness that allows for short-term aging.  Of the two features in this post the Catherine & Pierre Breton, Trinch is one to start drinking now.  The Frederick Mabileau drinks well now but should be even better in a year or two.  Both of these wines are from organic domaines.  They are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Catherine & Pierre Breton, Trinch, Bourgueil – $19
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is  100% Cabernet Franc sourced from the younger 30-year-old vines on gravel soils.  It was vinified in stainless steel using indigenous yeasts.  Alcohol 12%.  The color is medium+ ruby purple.  In the mouth the flavors are fairly dry with moderate concentration and a soft feel on the tongue.  The wine tastes pure with some tart fruit.  The acidity is always supportive never overt.  With air there is good expansion and the wine becomes a bit mouthfilling.  *** Now-2015.

2010 Frederick Mabileau, Les Rouilleres, St Nicolas de Bourgueil – $16
Imported by Simon N Cellars.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from 36-year-old vines on soils of sand and gravel.  It is vinified in stainless steel.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color is a medium ruby-cranberry.  The nose combines aromas of orange, red fruit, and pepper which is soft and scented.  In the mouth there is bright red fruit, a little orange note, and plenty of acidity which is somewhat broad.  The wine is moderate in weight with notes of pepper, graphite, and dried herbs in the finish.  There are some ripe and drying tannins.  This drinks now but should develop over the next two years.  *** Now-2018.