Loire Valley, day 1.

In Uncategorized on January 10, 2011 at 9:15 am


I’m currently traveling in France with importer Robert Kacher selections. We will spend the next two weeks visiting wineries and tasting their new wines. Current releases from a number of these wineries are already available at our store, and many of the wines I will be talking about here will be available in our store in early summer.

Our hotel is just next to the Loire river, most of the village is just across the water.

Our first stop is the village of Samur in the Loire valley. Owing to my having enjoyed a bit more excellent Chablis and Gevrey-Chambertin last night than may have been advisable, I was feeling rather sluggish this morning, but a brisk walk and a few cups of coffee helped. It was a beautiful morning in Paris, and a beautiful drive from there to Samur. It was about 4 hours to Samur by bus, and after checking into the hotel we headed to Dinner at Château de Miniere in Bourgueil. This is a new domaine for RKS, so I’ve never tried any of their wines. The total estate is only 18 hectares (44 acres), all Cabernet Franc, producing about 8,000 cases. They are in the process of achieving organic certification; the 2012 vintage will be certified organic. We tasted 2 2009 and one 2010 red, and I should admit up front that Cabernet Franc is, in general, not my favorite.

We tasted their 2010 Bourgueil du Chateau, the entry level wine, with an average vine age of about 45 years. As is to be expected, this wine was very young, having just finished malolactic fermentation. It showed the aromatic character that I think of as typical for Cab Franc from this area; lots of herbs, sage, and pine up front in the nose, with some dark berry buried underneath. That’s the primary reason I’m not a huge fan of these wines, that’s just not a characteristic that I really dig. However, if you’re looking for wines that are extremely rustic and authentic, and basically un-influenced by the pressures of the modern wine press, then the wines of Bourgueil and nearby Chinon are excellent ones to try, and Miniere is doing an excellent job.

We tasted the 09 and 08 Bourgueil du Chateau as well, both of which were much more finished, and showed a bit more fruit, better integration, and pretty impressive depth and complexity.

My favorite wine from the domaine was the second wine tasted: the 2009 Bourgueil Vielles Vignes, which is possibly my favorite Cabernet Franc wine ever. It showed just enough of that herbaceous character on the nose to be varietally correct, but not enough to overwhelm the fruit and perfume. Again, impressive depth and complexity.

Last was the smallest lot that this winery produces, with only 250 cases produced in most vintages, the 2009 Bourguiel Centenaire, produced from vines over 100 years old. This wine showed less extraction than the previous two, leaning more toward cherry and red berry fruit, and a bit more loamy earth and pine in the nose. It was more delicate on the nose than the Vielles Vignes, and very young, but surprisingly approachable.

We also tasted Chablis from Denis Pommier (actually we tasted the whites first, but this is the order my notes are in. Maybe I’ll re-organize this later.  Pommier and his wife have 15 hectares (37 acres) in Petit Chablis, Chablis AOC, and premier Cru Chablis vineyards. He is very judicious with his use of oak (only the 1er cru wines see any new barrels) all of which are limited to 50 hectolitres per hectare (just over 3 tons per acre).

We tasted 2009 and 2008 Petit Chablis first. Petit Chablis is sometimes considered a lesser growing area than the rest of Chablis, owing to the fact that the soil there is more clay, and less of the kimmeridgian and portlandian limestone, which is considered more desirable. The Pommier Petits Chablis, however, were quite impressive. The 09 was definitely more ready to go, with a nose full of bright lemon and chalk, impressive richness in the mid-palate, and medium acidity. The 08 was much more closed, but seemed to have a richness to indicate it will open and improve in the next few years.

The 2008 Chablis AC showed more tropical fruit and coconut in the nose, mango, passion fruit, stony mineral, high acid, lots of minerality.

The 2009 Chablis “Croix aux Moines” is 50% barrel fermented in used barrels, very perfumed nose like orange cream, the wood influence is apparent and, while not overpowering in the mid-palate, it stuck out a bit in the finish.

The 2008 Chablis 1er cru Beauroy, which is the cooler site of the two 1er crus that Denis produces, was less overtly aromatic than the Cote de Lechet, but showed a bit of rustic animal character under the minerality.

The 2007 Beauroy was my favorite of the Chablis, with stony minerality up front, a clear presence of wood in the mid-palate, but smoothly integrated, leading to a nicely balanced finish with medium-plus acidity.

The 2008 Cote de Lechet 1er cru was extremely musky in the nose. My neighbor described it as “a squirrel stuffed in a pineapple” which I couldn’t entirely disagree with. Less animal in the mouth, mostly tropical fruit and nice balance in the finish.

  1. Fantastic writing sweet leil. Hope you are having a wonderful time.

    Hugs and kisses

    Your Momma

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