Tag Archives: Chinon

Domaine Catherine & Pierre Breton – an Intrepid Wine Tasting

Catherine & Pierre Breton farm 11 hectares of vines organically and biodynamically, just outside of Bourgeuil in the middle-Loire Valley. They produce Chinon & Bourgeuil wines from cabernet franc, and some Vouvray from chenin blanc as well. All the estate was founded in 1982, they introduced organic viticulture in 1991 and biodynamics in 1994. The wines are being imported by George McCullough Imports, who I bought these bottles from and am happy to share my notes.

La Dilettante Vouvray 2014
Creamy pithy melons leesy pear, quince tart, oxidative vanilla. Warm apple pie, some savoury custard notes, fresh but not crunchy, quite creamy in texture.

La Ritournelle Bourgueil Rosé 2014
Sharp stalky savoury celery tomato leaf herbs, raspberries. Brisk and tight, nice crunchy tannins, fresh and focused, compelling and delicious savoury rosé.

Avis de Vin Fort Bourgueil 2014 Clairet
On the funky side, raw wild stinky, very vibrant aromatically, sour plums, blackberries and middle eastern spices. Crunchy again, darker but lighter in style, some earthy black fruit expressions, a fresh but wild finish.

Nuits d’Ivresse Bourgueil 2013
Black olive tapenade, syrupy balsamic, black cherries, wild herbal notes, brambles. Crunchy fresh, dancing tannins, wild acids, oxidative savoury bitter almonds.

Les Perrieres Bourgueil 2011
Dark pomegranate blackberry sour blood plums, earthy undergrowth, sweet carob notes. Soft but tight, lithe light crunchy, broad and mellow on the back, very long, dense but lively.

Domaine Breton wines

Domaine Breton wines

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A red dot in a sea of white (Chinon, France)

It was a little strange and unfamiliar at first, returning to winery visits and regions. Interestingly the last region I visited before my break was also in France, but was almost four months ago. I’d forgotten that fear of arriving late or not finding the winery but it came back a little bit. Visiting regions in the Loire Valley is almost like being in Inception as there are so many layers. For example you have the different parts of Chinon which sit around the town of the same name on the Vienne River, and they each have specific vineyards. Then Chinon is part of Touraine, which is then part of the Loire Valley. At this point we are already four layers deep, not including France and Europe. Chinon is the best known red wine appellation in the Loire Valley, although there is quite a bit of red vineyards mostly dedicated to rose in the whole region. They do make some white wine from chenin blanc, but it represents at most 5% of the vineyards and production. The important variety here is cabernet franc, and although there is more planted in Bordeaux, Chinon is the unofficial home of cabernet franc. Appelation laws allow them to use a percentage of cabernet sauvignon, but as sauvignon ripens later they don’t always get it to maturity in this cooler than Bordeaux climate.
Chateau de Chinon

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Baudry-Dutour – 21/11/2012

Domaine du Roncee 2010
Fairly classic chinon(?) nose, slightly green balsamic notes, tomato red berries, stalky leafy basil. Bold bright oaky characters, fairly typical modern winemaking, full concentrated soft but lacking real character. Juicy and intense, full flavour and round tannins. Hardly exceptional but good drinking otherwise.

Domaine du Roncee Clos des Marroniers 2010
Darker more mature and assured nose, earthier minerality and less brightness. Rounder deeper mellow tannins, earthier palate, less fruit but better integrated into the structure, some chocolate and caramel elements.

Chateau de la Grille 2007
Very bordeaux like nose, surprisingly no new oak considering. Vanilla coffee, maceration and dark fruits. Mellow full flavoured simple tannins, smooth and approachable but bold enough to impress simple palates.

Chateau de la Grille 2009
Big difference in the winemaking for the first vintage under the new ownership, excellent to see. The same concentration of fruit and bold tannins, but better structure acids and length. Much more longevity, integrated oak and alcohol. Approachable rusticity and savoury notes.

Chateau de Saint Louans 2008
Obvious new oak on the nose, difficult to see past it for the fruit. Juicy bold full soft and long, dark and lots of caramel and vanilla from the oak. New world? Reflective of Chinon? Trying to target certain clients?

3 Coteaux Chenin 2011
Fresh fruity nose, not a lot of green or herbaceous notes, clean, some minerality. Apricots and nectarines, a little apple blossom. Fruity juicy, a little bitter rather than dry or sharp. Fruity finish but a tad clumsy. Slightly waxy, and some warmth/astringency. Dry and fruity is what the people want, and what this delivers.

This is actually the same bottle as Champagne Gosset, the former owners of Chateay de la Grille

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Wilfrid Rousse – 21/11/2012

Cuvee Les Galuches 2011
Robust nose of tomatoes and herbs, celery and lettuce, radishes, but also very lifted berry aromas. A little myrtle and blackcurrant. Bright juicy soft and bold, clean without any barrel, nice balance, a tad simple. A little aniseed and some floral elements too.

Cuvee Les Puys 2010
Darker more intense yet more quiet on the nose, softer fuller fruit, less intensity of herbal and floral elements, perhaps from some time in barrique? Bolder but more mellow, deeper and darker structure, more of a blackcurrant liqueur aroma, more classic cabernet franc character. A tad more chocolate caramel character.

Les Bois de Beaumont 2010
Slightly more new oak character, more familiar and classic French red aromas. Darker berries, blueberries and black cherries. A particular aroma runs through the wines, different to that of Baudry. Younger and more flavour, again a more classic ripe and oak balanced profile. More myrtle and blackcurrant, quite high acidity, these wines are likely to age well. Quite a different texture to those of Bordeaux.

Clos de la Roche 2010
Very complex and less expressive for now, minerality and age, maturity and assurance. More balance on the palate, much like the best of Baudry, easily drinkable now but deserving of more time. Exceptional balance and character, harmony of fruit, tannin and acid, nice savouries, the apotheosis of the previous wines.

Cuvee Terroir 2009
Contemplative like a burgundy, wild like a northern rhone, deep like a Bordeaux, rich like a bandol, yet none of these things. Powerful ripe and rich, excellent fruit intensity yet still finesse, elegance, freshness and balance. Bold tannins and exuberant oak, juicy dark fruit with lively acids. Benefit from 10-20 years of age.

Les Puys 2009
A bit locked away aromatically, not expressing a lot but what it is expressing is good. Small intense red berries, a little note of charcuterie. A little cold initially. Very full and characteristic of the vintage, full tannin structure, dark but restrained fruit. Exceptional acids keeping things together beautifully.

Clos de la Roche 2009
Quite closed for now because the bottle is a little cold, but enough expression to see what it is and where its going. Much more than the previous one in terms of power and expression, yet maintaining that harmony and balance. Still great acids and structure, but more fruit to fill the gaps. Good drinking now and will continue to develop. The myrtle elements seen earlier are more complex in the top wines.

Cuvee Terroir 2008
A little lighter in colour, less intensity. More complex closed mineralic nose. Dried floral and small berry notes, myrtle and holly coming through again. Very bold acids, not really enough fruit to carry the wine though, unlike the preceding vintage. Lacks concentration and is a little thin and unripe. Lacking in balance, on the bitter side.

Les Puys 2008
Definitely floral and mineralic, but showing more fruit albeit in a dark and spicy vein. Softer and fuller structure than the previous, more rounded and balanced, high acids and intense tannins but more approachable and fresher. Five years at most to get rid of the sharpness.

Clos de la Roche 2008
Darker colour but still quite light. Light in body and texture, light in fruit and structure, nice fruit but lacking compared to later vintage. Thinner and on the sharp side, needs a warmer vintage to reach its full potential. Concentration a little off. Drinkable but not its best.

Les Puys 2007
Much wilder and perhaps even on the bretty side. More developed and mature, more earthy and rustic, fruit quiet now. Rusticity continues on the palate, nice and mellow but savoury and food-friendly. Youthful exuberance has been tempered by structure and acidity. Still a lot of tannins, keeping well.

Les Puys 2006
Earthy ripe truffles, chocolate and coffee, wild but still relatable. Showing its age on the palate, starting to thin out and look a tad oxidative. Chalkiness and clay showing a lot, tarry leathery notes too. Rounder and mostly on the mid palate, nothing on the front. Powerful yes. Balanced, perhaps it was but it isn’t anymore. Complex nose though.

I love the simplicity and elegance of this label

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Bernard Baudry – 21/11/2012

Les Granges 2011
Clean bright red fruits, some stalky brown green elements. Slight carbonic aromas from tank fermentation and aging. A little green tomato and balsamic elements. Tight precise light and fresh, not fruit sweet at all, good acidity freshness, balanced. A nice bitterness and bite to it.

Chinon 2010 (plateau)
A more pronounced balsamic character, slightly darker smaller berry notes, somewhat softer and more mellow, rounded but still not fruit sweet, lovely balanced, still quite light. Extremely pleasant wine with character, wonderful with food. Less bite, nice clean soft finish.

Les Grezeaux 2010 (65 year old vines)
More balsamic, darker purple berries, more deeper cab franc notes, intensity and expression on the nose. Slightly more lifted off the palate, but more flavour somehow. Lighter and brighter texture, not as mellow and round. Nice acids, not as concentrated. Nicely balanced and fresh, interesting development over the next few years.

Les Clos Guillot 2010
Darker nose, a little more brooding and intense, more masculine and powerful but a bit locked away. Earthier elements, less balsamic, more dried red fruits and nuts. Lovely and full on the palate, much more dark rich fruit notes, Very locked away and tight, will improve with time, but still great now with food.

Les Croix Boissee 2010
Rosy bright juicy red fruits, very pretty nose. Not showing too much oak or earthy notes, fresh clean but good character, very inviting. Great structure, not heavy or tight, nicely balanced. Intense but not heavy or too mellow, balanced between fruit and savoury elements, the highlight thus far. Great now and will improve more. Quite a lot going on.

La Croix Boissee Blanc 2011
Very green and herbaceous notes, very delicate apricot and peach notes, some glazed orange and ginger. Thyme and parsley. Fresh but not fruity, quite dry and clean but also has a touch of green on the palate.

Les Grezeaux 1990
Nice mature aromatics, some cocoa, a little leather, carob and some great earthy notes. Still quite intense with some excellent savoury elements, some soy and oyster sauce, great texture but still bright. Excellent concentration, power but also finesse. A bit wild and gamey. But unmistakably cabernet franc.

The Bernard Baudry range of wines

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