Tag Archives: Pouilly

It is and it isn’t (Pouilly, France – Day Two)

I’ve never really understood the phrase “the exception that proves the rule”, and I’m wondering if someone can explain it to me. Doesn’t an exception by definition DISprove a rule? Isn’t that the whole point of a rule? I understand the concept of “rules were meant to be broken”, never more appropriate than when talking about the rules and regulations around appellation des origine controlee (AOC) in France, and similar denominations in other European countries. The idea that the best wines are produced from certain varieties in certain terroirs perfected over the centuries isn’t the question for me. The question is the determination of yields and practices in the vineyards in cellars that are determined by this quite rigid system. In terms of planting other varieties, not only can you not label any wine made from the varieties, but the mere existence of them is forbidden. Around Europe there are mavericks looking to shake things up a bit, breaking away from the norm and attempting to disprove the rules, or prove the exception. One of these is Domaine Didier Dagueneau.

Domaine Didier Dagueneau

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Everybody needs good neighbours (Pouilly, France – Day One)

In the world of wine there are a few appellations that neighbour each other and are almost identical in terms of the climate, variety and style. Yet for some reason they aren’t as large or well known as these neighbours. One that comes to mind is Barbaresco and Barolo, the former being a third of the size and yet both are made from nebbiolo and are planted on the same soil type. Another more recent one I visited was in Touraine where the king of whites is Vouvray, but just across the river is Montlouis-sur-Loire where they also produce crisp fresh white wine from chenin blanc. Adding to this is the Pouilly-Fume appellation, which sits on the eastern/left bank of the Loire River, is about 40% the size of Sancerre and is also made with sauvignon blanc. There are some similarities in terms of soil with variations of clay, flint and chalk (much like in Chablis in fact). An interesting difference is that there is an additional AOC within Pouilly called Pouilly-sur-Loire, surrounding the town of the same name, which is exclusively planted to the more traditional chasselas variety and totals only 50 hectares. There is enough similarity in the style to be able to buy Pouilly-Fume instead of Sancerre and not be disappointed, particularly as the prices are a little friendlier. Head into your local independent boutique wine store and get them to recommend some alternatives to the better known wines you may drink, and you may discover something even better for the price.
Chateau de Nozet, the unofficial heart of Pouilly-Fume

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Domaine Didier Dagueneau – 30/11/2012

Pouilly-Fume Blanc 2010
Totally different aromatics for a sauvignon blanc, amazingly complex, very mineralic but a maturity to the green herbaceous characters I’ve never seen before. Bright intense and fresh, yet full of fruit, very vibrant, mouth-filling, insanely complex, refined yet offering so much. Such assuredness in a Pouilly-Fume, it’s hard to believe. I need to know how…

Pur Sang 2010
A lot more subdued, quiet and complex, showing a lot more flint minerality but very subtle, deep floral elements, haunting. Wonderfully rich but not heavy, waves of complexity across the palate, fine and elegant but with precision, interesting grapefruit and some green pineapple as well, but not fat at all.

Buisson Renard 2010
Deeply complex and rich on the nose, wonderful concentration of fruit and minerality, not heavy but expressive. Somehow more masculine and serious. Very broad in an amazing way, not at all heavy, rich, creamy or cloying. Wonderful acidity and freshness, but shifting wonderfully. Exceptionally long. So much ageing potential I want to cry. A little bit of a savoury edge.

Le Mont Damne Sancerre 2010
Brighter and more floral, quite crisp and chalky, some tropical notes that are very restrained. Great ripeness good fruit, balanced acids, great finish. It’s just lacking a little depth and concentration. I think it is to do with the age of the vines (7 years). Perhaps the wine is too young, perhaps I am expecting too much. Improving with each taste.

Silex 2010
Brooding intense, very stoic and serious, slightly closed and very young, but wonderfully delicate and complex. Great clean and pure fruit, definitely in the greener spectrum. The flint seems to bring out the greener notes of the variety. Persistent racing and razor sharp, bitingly young, needs quite a few years to open and flesh out. Crisp to the nines.

Silex 2009
Riper and deeper, less concentration and density, more fruit and richness. More floral and even a little candied compared to the next vintage. Already showing much better than the 2010, more open and expressive, fruit is more apparent, quite ripe but not heavy or full, certainly not in the fat tropical area. The green is not showing in this wine, perhaps vintage specific. Still very young and brisk, nice bite to the back palate needs more time to soften.

Clos de Calvaire 2008
Lovely complex salted capers but very subtle, steamed asparagus, but also lovely fresh and ripe citron and kiwi fruit. I’ve never seen such complexity in green characters. Dense and concentrated but not too intense, bright fresh, integrated acids and exceptional balance of alcohol. So uniquely savoury, not overt fruit.

Cuvee Pirate 2008
Quite clearly riesling on the nose, but a very good example. Planted on flint it has the characters of the soil, quite dense and concentrated but different structure to German or Alsatian rieslings. A really good example, certainly a wine of interest worth ageing.

Les Jardins des Babylone 2010 (100% petit manseng)
Rich creamy tropical pineapple papaya, a little smoky and leesy. Quite concentrated and sweet on the palate, deep and fruity, very rich and full but not cloying. Good length, excellent balance, still enough acid to carry everything. Not a simple sweet wine, but approachable nonetheless.

Les Jardins 2007
Slightly smokier and more closed, more minerality and petrol aromas. Much denser and heavier, a lot of sweetness and density, I think it is a little heavy and the alcohol stands out a little bit. Too aggressive, the balance was better in the 2010.

Domaine Didier Dagueneau

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Serge Dagueneau – 29/11/2012

Chasellas 2011 (Pouilly-sur-Loire)
Less of the play-doh, seeing more minerality, slightly on the talcy side, very mineralic but nice fruit too. Full and ripe, offers more on the palate and in the fruit, minerality disappears a little, but actually offers something. Perhaps vine age? Later harvesting? Still quite dry and a little green.

Tradition 2011
Lovely and vibrant fruit, excellent concentration, excellent balance of the green elements, lovely and enticing but also approachable on the nose. Juicy bright clean balanced, excellent fruit harmony but also plenty of citrus and orchard fruit. Good length and extension, clean herbaceous finish.

Clos des Chadoux 2010
Much smokier and crushed floral concentration, on the talcy side of mineralisation, very intense but bvery subdued fruit, will take a little longer to express. Riper richer but also lighter, very complex, some late salty savoury elements to it, will get more interesting as it ages. An exceptional wine, very high quality.

La Leontine 2009
Slightly darker in colour, more intensity but still very bright. A little more density but showing much more oak characters compared to the other wines. Oak very prominent in youth but very well balanced, adding complexity that will age well. Round and dense, good on the mid-palate, fruit yet to express.

Les Filles 2010 (vin non filtre)
Really intense and dark, more in the masculine side. Deeper more earthy and rich, less brightness of fruit, quite closed for the time-being, needs a little more to express. Looking warm and too textured for now, needs to develop.

Serge Dagueneau

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Domaine Chatelain – 29/11/2012

Chasselas 2010 (Pouilly-sur-Loire)
At first it smells like play-doh. Then the very tight brisk fruit comes through. Thin crisp no real character, not much point drinking it really. Alcoholic water. Different, but not really that interesting. Quite biting.

Harmonie 2010
Lovely and vibrant, nice and concentrated, bright fresh fruits with a good measure of green elements. Not a lot of minerality, to be expected at this level. Exceptionally well balanced, vibrant and full without any heaviness or density, warm and a little textured, well delivered.

Les Chailloux Silex 2010
Much more mineralic, very flinty and smoky (understandable). Very focused and precise, cuts like a razor. Lovely and ripe on the palate, very expressive in fruit, warm and full but great concentration and complexity of minerality.

Les Charmes Chatelain 2010
More complex, deeper and slightly toastier, richer and riper, some stone fruit with the citrus, very subdued floral elements. Concentrated and intense, wonderfully developed fruit and minerality, toasty around the edges, brisk and very textured for now, needs a few more years.

Prestige 2008
Slightly more floral, deep and rich, wonderful concentration, really complex but at the same time very rich ripe and vibrant, wonderfully deep fruit. Minerality will show in a few more years. Not the same structure, much better, wow in the mid-palate, exquisite expression of sauvignon blanc.

Domaine Chatelain

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Domaine de Ladoucette – 29/11/2012

Classic 2009
Crisp brisk and minerally, fresh bright citrus fruit notes, a little floral, some nice blossom notes, but very clean pure and inviting. Generous weight and texture on the palate, mouth-filling fruit and acidity, a touch on the warm side perhaps dude to vintage conditions. Delivers everything you would hope for at this level. Ageable too.

Chateau du Nozet 2006
Slightly deeper and more giving on the nose, less precise and mineralic, riper and slightly more floral components. Also showing a very slight maturity to it, perhaps oxidative? Richer rounder deeper, a little creamier with a very late honey element to it. Not as bright and crisp as the first wine. Ageing nicely, still plenty of acidity.

Grand Millesime 2005 (late release)
Still a little closed, but also very subtle and complex. Showing the floral elements but without the intense mineral components. Round and inviting on the nose, but still good fruit. Still wonderfully crisp and fresh, contained and assured, wonderfully dense and complex minerality, builds a little on the palate. Still far too early, needs another five years to begin to open up a little more.

Domaine de Ladoucette

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