Thursday, July 3, 2008
Some colleagues and I, along with a few other imbibers, met up at 18 Reasons gallery tonight to taste a wide variety of Loire wines: natural wines and high chemical wines, cult wines and modest bistro wines, current releases and 15 year olds, everything from the Atlantic coast all the way to Sancerre. Overall a terrific variety. Thanks to Josh for organizing and Morgan for providing tasty snacks to munch on.
2006 Henri Bourgeois 'Petit Bourgeois' VdP du Jardin de France
A simple SB affair, with the usual citrus flavors, but lacking in purity and intensity. Many better Loire VdP SB and Touraine sauvignon exist at this price point. Most recently I'm really enjoying the '07 JF Merieau Touraine imported by JD Headrick.
2006 Henri Bourgeois Sancerre 'Mont Damnes'
Of course this is a step up: stronger citrus, rounded stone fruit flavors and a touch of mineral. Even so, it lacks the tension and intense minerality of a good Mont Damnes. Not knowing the price (probably $20-25) I would take a pass on this one.
2005 Didier Dagueneau 'Pur Sang' Pouilly Fume
I was excited to try another vintage of this wine, one that I would more than likely enjoy a lot more than the super ripe '03 tasted a few months ago. Currently not offering much on the nose, and nearly as shut down on the palate, the wine is still clearly a powerful example of Pouilly Fume that should show more of its personality in a few years. Intense, broad, mouth filling citrus flavors, with some lemongrass as well as creamy lees flavors. Though it's shut down, you can still taste the intensity of flavors and note the amazing persistence of the finish.
2004 Courtois 'Originel'
Truly an original, this Jenny & Francois import is aptly named. 100% Meunier from near Cheverny. I have had this wine before, and it was consistent in its funky character. A faded golden color, with amber tints and a bit of an oxidative character to the aroma, this wine seems as unstable as I remember it. In fact last time I decided to let it sit in the fridge over night and it turned golden brown. Aromas are at first funky and green, but with pretty cherries and biscuit dough beyond the initial stank. On the palate the wine is very dry, with a pronounced hazlenut character, freshly baked biscuits and a hint of coriander on the finish. Some people mentioned a cidery quality, which I did not catch this time around but certainly did the last time I tried the wine, after it had been open for a day. Interesting wine, not one for the masses though.
2006 Janvier Jasnieres Cuvee de Silex
Very pleasant dry chenin, with creamy nectarine flavors, a bit of Chenin tuffeau chew, and nice grip.
2001 Prince Poniatowski 'Clos Baudoin' Vouvray
Of course this princely estate is now defunct, its vineyards bought by Francois Chidaine. This wine turned out being classified as 'sec' in '01, while in other years ('90 for example) it was moelleux. The style of wine depended on vintage conditions, it was not consistent year to year. Though I thought that the initial mustiness was mere Poniatowski diry cellar stink, others pronounced the wine corked. Either way, it was clearly not the best bottle from this now defunct winery known for its pretty good Vouvray and dirty cellar.
1993 Jo Landron Domaine de la Louvetrie 'Fief du Breil' Muscadet
Just beginning to show signs of maderizing on the nose, this wine is still tasty, with broad lemon flavors, minerals galore and a boiled oat quality as well. This was a near consensus pick for one of the wines of the night. It's further proof that top-notch muscadet ages remarkably well.
2001 La Poussie Sancerre Rouge
My experience with non-current release Sancerre rouge is minimal, so this was a fun bottle to taste. Super light red color with subtle orange tints at the edge, the wine had a real wet rock character, with some gentle, aged French pinot style savory cherry flavor. A touch of violet as well. Subtle, earthy and light. Tasty but frail, and probably a tough one to pair with food.
2006 Bobinet 'Amateus' Saumur Champigny
Another Jenny & Francois import, this cab franc is delicious. Deep black cab franc fruits on the nose, leading to more of the same on the palate, with a floral quality, lavender like. Great intensity and fruit purity here. Another consensus pick for top three of the night.
2006 Phillipe Alliet Chinon
This is the entry level Chinon, and while it is good wine that just needs some time to shed some undesirable aromas, it was really outclassed by the Bobinet, which I unfortunately tasted immediately prior. Funky, reductive, and bretty on the nose (can't say you didn't warn me, Jeff). Dark fruit. Chewy dark cherry and currants on the palate. If you're drinking this now, maybe open it a day before to disperse some of the sulphurous, bretty funk on the nose.