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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.

2015 Cabernet Franc from Baudry and Germain

February 28, 2017 Leave a comment

The 2015 Thierry Germain, Saumur Champigny and 2015 Bernard Baudry, Les Granges, Chinon are fun to taste together for they are different expressions of the Cabernet Franc grape.  Since I last tasted the Germain in the fall, it has opened up in flavor as well as shed weight and roundness.  This is a light, ethereal wine that manages to move in flavor from red to black fruit.  The wine reminded Jenn of a rose which I think is the best, single word description of this wine.  The Baudry offers a bit more strength as well as lively zip from acidity and attractive texture as if extract were floating about.  It is a bit dry and structured making me think it will drink better in the fall.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2015 Thierry Germain, Saumur Champigny – $20
Imported by Elite Wines Imports.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from 25+ year old vines, fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for seven months in tank.  Alcohol 13%.  There are herbaceous aromas supported by bright red fruit.  In the mouth this wine is lighter in body with cranberry and strawberry flavors, and watering acidity.  The light body conveys delicate flavors, which are ethereal and gently ripe, as they move from red to black fruit flavors.   It picks up floral notes with air.  **(*) Now – 2019.

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2015 Bernard Baudry, Les Granges, Chinon – $18
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from young vines that is both fermented and aged for 7-10 months in cement tanks.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose reveals finely textured herbaceous aromas.  The dry, linear entry of black fruit has strength picking up good zip in the mid palate.  With air this becomes an inky and herbaceous wine with a cool ripeness and texture from extract in the end.  **(*) Now – 2019.

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The 2015 Thierry Germain, Saumur Champigny will only get better

October 31, 2016 Leave a comment

Craving a lower alcohol wine, we popped open the 2015 Thierry Germain, Saumur Champigny.  For this first several hours this wine is all about subtlety and pencil lead notes.  Then it transforms into a dark, savory wine which fills your mouth with satisfying flavor.  I recommend you stash away a few bottles for the new year.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2015 Thierry Germain, Saumur Champigny – $20
Imported by Elite Wines Imports.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc from 25+ year old vines that was fermented with indigenous yeast then aged seven months in tank.  Alcohol 13%.  This gentle wine begins with pencil lead infused black fruit flavors that pack some weight and roundness.  The wine is fresh but not too bright with a modest drying structure.  After several hours it becomes a savory, weighty wine which expands ethereally in the finish.  **(*) 2017-2019.

Another lovely Saumur Champigny from Thierry Germain

November 14, 2014 Leave a comment

You cannot miss the changing labels of Thierry Germain for he has a certain aesthetic when it comes to his color choices. The recently released 2013 Domaine des Roches Neuves, Saumur Champigny is another excellent, yet different vintage compared to the 2012.  Of that vintage I wrote “Texture is the key” in my post Cahors, Saumur Champigny, and Tautavel.   For this vintage I would suggest lightness (as in levity) and drinkability.  This is the sort of wine to open with your friends.  It it engaging, will stimulate conversation, yet at the end of the evening you will feel satisfied and sober.  This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 Domaine des Roches Neuves, Saumur Champigny – $20
Imported by Elite Wines Imports.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from 25+ year old vines which was fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel then aged for three to four months in both stainless steel and oak.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There was a lovely  nose of white pepper mixed with fresh black fruit.  In the mouth were attractive flavors of tart black fruit, a hint of greenhouse, and good tannins.  Tangy black grip came out with air but the overall sense of lightness and moderate structure suggest a wine to drink sooner than later.  *** Now-2016.

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Wines from La Vrille et Le Papillon, La Folie Lucé, and Jean-Louis Tribouley

September 12, 2014 1 comment

The wines features in today’s post comes from three very different regions of the Rhone, Loire, and Roussillon.  What they have in common, beyond the importer, is they are smaller, individually driven efforts.  The 2012 La Vrille et Le Papillon, Z Rouge, Ardeche bears a “Z” for zero-sulphur.   I thought this was evident on the nose but in no way were the flavors strange.  This wine needs a bit of air for the interesting flavors to come out at which point it drinks well.  The 2010 La Folie Lucé, Autrement, Saumur Champigny shows an interesting herbaceousness but in this case it is wildly tropical.  Though it is young and best left in the cellar, the nervy quality is attractive.  There is a strong future for the 2010 Jean-Louis Tribouley, Orchis Vieilles Vignes, VdP des Cotes Catalanes.  From the tobacco aromas to the floral infused fruit there is a lot to like.  I would leave it in the cellar or wine fridge for a few years to let it relax and open up.  So perhaps drink the La Vrille et Le Papillon now while you let the La Folie Lucé and Jean-Louis Troubley improve in the cellar.   These wines were purchased at Weygandt Wines.

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2012 La Vrille et Le Papillon, Z Rouge, Ardeche – $26
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Syrah, completely organic, and bottled without sulphur. Alcohol 12.5%.  The light nose mixed berries, natural wine aromas, and tea smoked berries.  In the mouth were incensed flavors of dry, bright fruit that was underlaid by black fruit and acidity.  The flavors remained tart with a bit of a spicy tannins.  The tannins coated the sides of the cheeks.  With air the wine developed flavors of graphite, young fine fruit, and a light orange-wood note.  *** Now-2019.

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2010 La Folie Lucé, Autrement, Saumur Champigny – $40
Imported by Weygandt-Wines.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from vines averaging 30 years of age on more chalky soils. It was raised in used oak barrels. Alcohol 13.8%.  There was an interesting nose of black fruit and aromas from a greenhouse full of tropical plants.  The mouth followed the nose with rounded red and black fruit that had a nervy tartness.  There were tight, ripe flavors then some ripe tannins on the gums, followed but  a tart, citrus pith aftertaste.  **(*) 2015-2020.

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2010 Jean-Louis Tribouley, Orchis Vieilles Vignes, VdP des Cotes Catalanes – $30
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Carignan, and Cinsault.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The attractive nose bore aromas of focused ripe berries and tobacco.  In the mouth were both tart and ripe flavors of black and red fruit that left citric tannins on the g um.  The wine was a little chewy with long tannins that were a little spicy and matched a Big Red flavor.  This was a good, young wine that became better with air.  It eventually took on violet infused black fruit, some lipstick, and dry spices.  **(*) 2016-2024.

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Cahors, Saumur Champigny, and Tautavel

November 5, 2013 1 comment

Despite the goofy Wine Spectator sticker the 2008 Gerard Bertrand, Grand Terroir is a completely enjoyable wine from the Cotes du Roussillon Village of Tautavel.  Perhaps due to the hillier terrain and higher altitude this wine has fine flavor and focus.  The 2010 Chateau du Cèdre, Cahors is, in a sense, elegant with complex aromas and flavors evocative of bitters.   It is best to leave it in the cellar for a few years.  The 2012 Domanie des Roches Neuves, Saumur Champigny has engaging aromas and texture in the mouth that adds to the physical pleasure.  I suggest trying it in the new year.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2008 Gerard Bertrand, Grand Terroir, Tautavel – $15
Imported by USA Wine West.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Carignan.  Alcohol 14%.  This wine responds very well to a few hours of air to reveal aromas of cherry and blue fruits.  In the mouth were very fine grained flavors of cherry and blue fruit which had focus.  This clean wine revealed its integrated acidity followed by minerals then ripe, spiced tannins.  *** Now-2018.

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2010 Chateau du Cèdre, Cahors – $23
This wine is a blend of 90 % Malbec, 5% Merlot, and 5% Tannat which underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged for 22 months in French oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was evocative of a Manhattan.  In the mouth were firm, structured black fruit, citric acidity, and a subtle earth hint in the finish and aftertaste.  After a few hours of air this young wine developed a subtle, complex note of bitters which matched the elegance of the fruit.  This dry wine left drying tannins on the gum.  It is setup for aging.  **(*) 2015-2025.

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2012 Domanie des Roches Neuves, Saumur Champigny – $19
Imported by Elite Wines.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from 25+ year old vines which was fermented in stainless steel then aged for three to four months in both stainless steel and oak.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was very finely scented with aromas of fresh cardamom.  In the mouth were black and red fruit which was a little more expansive on the second night.  The structure came out as did the flavors of cardamom and notes of pepper.  There was lovely texture and drying minerals.  Texture was the key.  *** Now-2018.

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A Medieval Field Blend and a Wine I Know Nothing About

Here is an interesting pair of wines we drank over this past week.  The Domaine du Vignes du Maynes was recommended to me by Jamie at Chambers Street.  The wine is produced by the Guillot family who purchased the 7 hectare vineyard back in 1954.  The vineyard has very old origins having been first planted by the Benedictines of the Abbey of Cluny in 910.  This enclosed vineyard has been in existence ever since with the vines replanted over the centuries using selection massale or propagation through cuttings from the best vines of the vineyards.  The vineyards are believed to have never been augmented with pesticides or herbicides.  The fruit is hand-harvested, transported to the winery by oxen, then pressed by foot, and fermented in old oak vats or barrels.  Sometimes the wine is bottled with sulphur.  The wine clearly reminds me of the natural sort but the weight, pepper notes, and juicy black fruit all add depth and interest.  Certainly worth a try.

The second wine was recommended to me as well, this time by Phil.  I know nothing about Domaine Joulin and will update this post when I hear back from the estate.  All I can write is that it was a surprisingly delicious bottle of wine.  There was not one drop leftover for tasting on a subsequent night.  I definitely recommend you try a bottle.  The Domaine des Vignes du Maynes was purchased at Chambers Street Wines.  The Domaine Joulin was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2011 Domaine des Vignes du Maynes, Clos de la Vignes du Mayne, Cuvee 910, Macon-Cruzille –
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  The fruit is sourced from a field blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Chardonnay.  It was hand harvested, Alcohol 12.5%.  The color is a very light, slightly cloudy red grapefruit and rose.  The light is light with fresh red berries, a yeasty touch, and some fresh pepper.  The mouth follows the nose but with a little more weight to the initial fruit.  The flavors have a gentle firmness along with red cranberry acidity on the tip of the tongue.  There is a pepper note, a natural taste, citrus nose, and juicy black fruit.  With air there is a touch of yeast and a racy character.  There was vintage perfume in the aftertaste.  ** Now-2014.

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2011 Domaine Joulin, Saumur Champigny – $15
Imported by OSLO Enterprise.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from younger vines.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose bore finely textured aromas.  In the mouth the Cabernet Franc fruit comes through with pepper, a greenhouse note, and good ripe, blackness.  After 15-30 minutes of air there are confident flavors of red and black fruit, a little ripeness, and a juicy finish.  This is a really good drink with cool and fresh ripe notes.  *** Now-2015.

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