|What:||Loire – But not as you have tasted before|
|When:||18 Sep 18 ,18:30 -20:30|
|Where:||Army & Navy Club SW1Y 5JN map|
There are commercial Loire tastings with fresh-off-the-vine wines but very likely none of these that you have attended will have had the depth of flavour and complexity of the wine that you will experience with our Dining Club tasting.
It was in 1966 or 7, I forget which, that a Sixth Form Challenge program hosted by Bamber Gascoigne (the kindly version of Paxman) had the starter question: “Which is the longest…BUZZ…. Nile.” Five point penalty. “Which is the longest river in ….BUZZ….Amazon” Five point penalty. By this time Timothy Mo (later to become a novelist of repute) was visibly distressed. “Which is the longest river in France? Rhine.” Wrong, and yours truly and our team was sunk. It was the Loire, of course at 629 miles (1008 km to Remainers) as the Rhine at 764 miles only runs partly through France. Trick question. Nevertheless, the Loire has stuck in my mind ever since, especially when I discovered that wine was something to treasure rather than just a beverage for cooking and seduction.
There are notionally three regions along the Loire.
Muscadet is furthest west on the Atlantic coast with its wine always made from the melon de Bourgogne grape and best kept for a while on the spent yeast that remains from fermentation – “sur lie”.
Anjou and Touraine upstream to the east have chenin blanc as the dominant white variety. Sparkling wines are made in Saumur in the same way as in Champagne. In Savennières, Coteaux du Layon, Vouvray and Montlouis, the chenin blanc can make bone dry or lusciously sweet wines. The red variety of note is cabernet franc grown in Chinon and Bourgueil which can be intense and age well.
The “Central Vineyards” are further east and contain Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé and use Sauvignon Blanc to make a steely, mineral wine. Reuilly, Quincy and Menetou Salon are all areas that can produce excellent wines that are good value. Pinot noir is long established in Sancerre and Reuilly to make smooth reds and Provençal-challenging rosés.
Jo Locke MW is the Wine Society buyer for the Loire and has been really helpful in suggesting a range of out of the ordinary Loires from the WS. Many Loire wines from Domaine Huet, François Cotat and the late Didier Dagueneau have a longevity rarely experienced. I have dug deep in the cellars to find some older examples to compare with newer releases to encourage you to keep these wines for the long term. There are only single bottles of 1989 and 1991 Sancerre, Chavignol, Reserve des Mont Damnés from Cotat, so only a sip of one or the other. Wines marked in the list below with * are not Wine Society wines.
We will start and finish with wine from Domaine Huet, the most famous of all Vouvray’s producers. Since its founding in 1928, Domaine Huet has become synonymous with the finest Chenin Blanc. Making still and sparkling, dry and sweet wines from some of the appellation’s finest terroir, their hallmarks are freshness and legendary age-worthiness.
We start with the 2012 Huet Petillant.
Muscadet Cotes de Grand Lieu sur Lie, Clos de la Butte, Eric Chevalier 2014.
Muscadet Le Clos du Ch L’Oiselinière, Chéreau-Carré 2014.
An un oaked cuvee.
Cour-Cheverny Cuvée Renaissance 2014.
Made from the romorantin grape, which is new to your secretary.
Coteaux du Vendômois Le Carillon de Vendôme “Le Cocagne” Chenin Blanc 2017.
A pristine chenin from off the beaten track.
Touraine Chenonceaux Domaine de la Renaudie 2016.
A relatively new Sauvignon appellation with a different fuller style.
François Cotat must be one of the most unusual producers in Sancerre, using minimal intervention in the cellar in order to make wines that are absolutely expressive of their terroir. This has even brought him into conflict: in some vintages his wines haven’t met particular criteria necessary to be classified as Sancerre, and have had to be sold as Vin de France. What is constant, however, is these are considered some of the finest Sauvignon Blancs made anywhere in the world.
*Sancerre, Chavignol Reserve des Mont Damnés, François Cotat 1989 – one bottle only
*Sancerre, Chavignol Reserve des Mont Damnés, François Cotat 1991 – one bottle only
(given the limited quantity, attendees will only be able to taste one of the two vintages)
Pouilly-Fumé Cuvée Prestige Domaine Seguin, 2015 (Mags).
A classic bought by the Society only in magnums for Christmas.
*Pouilly-Fumé, Silex, Didier Dagueneau, 2012.
Before his untimely death in 2008, Didier Dagueneau was the “wild man of Pouilly”, on a mission to resurrect Pouilly-Fumé’s reputation for Sauvignon Blanc of the highest quality. His wines developed a cult following with corresponding prices frequently in three figures. His son, Louis-Benjamin, is now following in his footsteps and continuing his legacy.
RED – Three examples of cabernet franc at different stages of evolution
Saumur Champigny Tradition Clos des Cordeliers, Domaine Ratron 2015
Chinon Les Cornuelles Domaine Sourdais 2010
SWEET – with Roquefort cheese
Coteaux du Layon St Aubin, Les Varennes Domaine Cady 2015
For those of you who cannot live life without a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon in a “Bordeaux blend” then the Leoville Barton Dinner with Lilian Barton Sartorius presiding on October the 15th and the Christmas tasting on the 5th of December will supply a surfeit. The Hermitage Dinner on the 15th of November should provide an ideal interlude for Rhône-worshippers.
Tony Wright, Honorary Secretary
Dress Code: Smart casual
Vintages available from The Wine Society:
Muscadet Côtes de Grand Lieu sur Lie, Clos de la Butte, Eric Chevalier 2017
Chinon ‘Le Logis de la Bouchardière', Domaine Serge et Bruno Sourdais 2017