Tag Archives: Touraine

Moullieux out (Vouvray, France – Day Two)

Not having done any serious winery visiting for so long I had forgotten that generally in certain countries in Europe they don’t really show visitors vineyards. I have a number of theories about their reasons for this. The first is that a lot of the time cellars are not on the estates the vines grow, partly as it is more important to use land for vines but also as originally the vineyards were owned by the church and then split amongst the people in the villages by Napoleon. The second theory I have is that with so many vignerons owning vineyards in essentially the same area they can rarely claim a terroir as their own, and must therefore talk about their expression of the terroir. Another theory I have is that there is an assumed understanding about their appellation and terroir, and there is very little need to show the vineyards. The final reason is that generally visitors are more interested in either flash wineries (Bordeaux) or cellars, and of course in tasting the wines. So it is with disappointment that after three days and seven appointments already I have only had one of my hosts show me vineyards. This is the case in France and Germany, but less so in most of Italy, Spain and Portugal. I took it upon myself to drive around the vineyards of Vouvray to get acquainted with them, but it isn’t the same without someone pointing out specifics like viticulturist practices.
The cellars of Bernard Fouquet

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Straddling the Loire (Vouvray, France – Day One)

Closer to Tours to the north-east sits Vouvray, the Loire Valley’s second or third most famous appelations and one of the great white wine regions in the world. Until recently no-one could claim that they were doing more for the chenin blanc variety than Vouvray, but some upstarts down in South Africa are now establishing a reputation with this misunderstood variety. To be labelled as Vouvray AOC you can only make white wine from 100% chenin blanc, but similar to Alsace they make wines of differing levels of sweetness as well as producing some excellent sparkling wine. The vineyards of Vouvray sit on a plateau about 50m above the village of the same name which lies on the banks of the Loire River. On the opposite side of the bank sits Montlouis-sur-Loire, which is actually between the Loire and River on a headland. Montlouis is also 100% chenin blanc and the wines are arguably as good, but they aren’t as famous as their neighbours across the river. I spent my first day in this part of the region on either side of the bank coming to terms with a variety that isn’t particularly fashionable in Melbourne, but is more widely planted further west.
Did I mention how cold it has gotten?

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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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Domaine Huet – 23/11/2012

Domaine Huet Petillant Brut 2007
Clean mineralic citrus. Very tight and fresh, lean and balanced, good fruit, mineralic and intense, purity of fruit and good lines through the palate. Nice finish and quite long on the palate.

Methode Traditionelle 2002
Lot’s of lees autolysis, very creamy and buttery, bready and biscuity, some oxidative characters as well. Rich and very subtle, a lot of complexity but a little flat. Lacking elegance and expression, not sure about this style with the variety, lends itself to the champagne varieties more.

Le Haut-Lieu 2011 Sec
Very grassy on the nose, green apricots, cumquat and quince. Nice pleasant light fruit, fairly simple structure, approachable with good acidity, some minerality and sea-salt, a really great wine to pair with seafood. Finesse but also some simplicity. A little late nut character on the back.

Clos du Bourg 2011 Sec
Tighter darker earthier nose, more sweet nut characters, some very subtle vanilla root, apple blossom and citrus. Richer and fuller on the palate, builds more in the mid- and carries through. Deeper and more expressive, powerful and complex fruit. More depth and concentration, but also very generous.

Le Mont 2011 Sec
A little tighter and more seashell notes on the aroma, green nuts pistachio, crushed salt and herbs, less fruit than the others. Full expression and weight, power but less fruit, more integrated earthy savoury elements, more alcoholic expression and texture. The most masculine of the three.

Le Mont 2006 Demi-Sec
Oily flinty and ripe rich fruit characters, showing a little maturity. Presents as quite sweet initially, slightly savoury and earthy. A little short on the finish, but perhaps ageing quickly.

Le Haut-Lieu 2007 Demi-Sec
More sea-shells, some oily apricot kernel, savoury biscuit. Bolder and more textured, more expressive and intense, powerful and dense but still very fresh and great acid. Rich and full, lots of ageing potential, great balance.

Clos du Bourg 2007 Moelleux
Floral honey, ripe fruit on the nose. Textured but also very clean and pure, complex but wonderfully balanced and intense. Carries the sweetness beautifully, good acids and again lovely with cheese. Not dessert wine, but certainly sweet.

Le Haut-Lieu 2009 Moelleux
More floral and intense fruit nose, candied and some fairy floss characters, jubey juicy and bright. Fresh and full of fruit, very powerful and expressive. Nice clean finish, some nice texture, but very young for now. Nice and broad on the palate.

Le Mont 2009 Moelleux
More waxy and less fruity, mealy and cheesy, some lees notes adding complexity. Somewhat closed at the moment. Dense and expressive, but kind of hollow in the middle of the palate. Lovely and juicy but seems somehow simple and sweet. Lacks structure and elegance. Perhaps will improve with age.

Premiere Trie 2006 Moelleux
Quiet mineralic and flinty nose, some ripe stone fruit but also a hint of spicy sweet herbs. Balanced, very complex, hauntingly long on the palate, wonderful precision and harmony, excellent concentration without cloying sweetness. Some nice savoury elements will continue to evolve in the bottle.

Premiere Tre 2008 Moelleux
Fascinating nose, more like a riesling or an albarino, sea salt oily truffles, dried fish, daikon. Much bolder richer and more textured, but glides away on the palate beautifully. Initially has more sweetness and richness but then the balance comes through on the mid-palate before dissipating. Very long again, some lovely juicy fruit on the back of the palate keeps things fresh for the next sip. 

Premiere Trie 2010 Moelleux
Brooding concentrated dark root beer, a touch volatile on the nose, some barley and tequila. Very heavy and sweet, on the cloying side, pear and apple on the palate, honey and wheat, some molasses and also some volatile aromas.
Domaine Huet

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Domaine des Aubusieres – 23/11/2012

Cuvee le Silex 2011
Lovely bright crisp aromas of citrus and some stone fruit with an edge of herbaceous green grass and parsley. Just a delicate hint of lees notes. Mouth-filling and fruit forward, fresh and clean but nice pleasant texture. Round and generous, dry but fruity and approachable. Lovely balance and good drinking. Great clean finish, leaves you wanting more.

Cuvee le Silex 2010
More concentrated nose, more honey notes sitting over riper stone and tropical fruits, slightly more floral notes, some oily aromas as well. Rounder yet lighter weight, fuller and longer on the palate, still looking a little young, nice viscosity and great elegance.

Cuvee le Silex 2008
Very aromatic, jumping out of the glass, surprising for its age. Not showing a lot of fruit characters now, exhibiting some maturity on the nose. Some complex savoury elements showing now, a little truffle oil, nutty elements, and some earth. Quite savoury on the palate, very long and nothing on the front, fills the mouth very broadly, nice maturity and texture on the palate. Much more of a food wine after some time in bottle.

Le Marigny 2010
Slightly darker in colour, possibly from barrel and battonage on lees. Riper more tropical notes of kiwi fruit and star fruit, some pear and guava as well. Very subtle well integrated oak. Very young, initially looks like a white burgundy or chablis, has an interesting saltiness to it, lees derived wheat characters. Nice structure and concentration, yet to express itself.

Le Marigny 2011
Freshly bottled showing a lot of barrel characters, slightly herbaceous notes, not showing fruit at the moment. Fuller and richer but somehow straighter on the palate, slightly smoky and more textured in youth. Far too early to assess.

Le Plan de Jean 2011 Moullieux
Serious notes of parsley right out of the glass, fruit quite subtle for now in youth, but also showing a little minerality on the edges. Very full but not too viscous, very fresh and lovely fruit concentration and balance. Full but nice clean finish, not a dessert wine in the Alsace context, great with cheese and fruit based desserts. Some interesting savoury elements to the wine which will be interesting to see how they develop in the bottle.

Le Plan de Jean 2002 Moullieux
Lovely rich golden colour with more age in bottle. Classic mature aromas, truffles, mushrooms, earth, cheese, dried apricots and pears. Bold and expressivge on the palate, harmonious and rich with integrated acids. The dried fruit comes very late on the palate, but there is also a little late warmth on the palate. Opening up every time I taste it.

Cuvee Alexandre 2009 Moullieux
Extremely complex nose, very rich but also masculine and brooding. More subtle honeyed concentrated fruit aromas of stone fruits. Expressive but not explosive on the palate, still quite restrained and elegant. Sugar well tempered by the high acidity, so the impression is not of overt sweetness but balance.

Le Marigny 2003 Moullieux
Extreme apple liquer (calvados) with some prune notes too, earthy and some lovely mature cheese notes. Thicker and more concentrated viscosity, fuller and more impression of sweetness. Very honeyed and ripe stone fruit. Much more powerful and sweet in the mid-palate.

Cuvee Alexandre 2003 Moullieux
More quiet on the nose and subtle, more earthy savoury notes on the aroma, subdued fruit, some minerality showing as well. Full and rich but not cloying, nicely balanced with good acids. Better balanced and potential for ageing than the previous, excellent harmony between sugar and acid, with complex fruit and savoury notes. Seriously elegant.

The cellars of Bernard Fouquet

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Francois Chidaine – 22/11/2012

Montlouis sur Loire Brut
Nice autolysis notes, some brioche and biscuit, a little floury as well, slightly mineralic and with some nice citrus. Nice clean bright citrus fruit, balanced clean, a more recognisable style of sparkling wine. Some nice green citric undertones, nice balanced autolysis on the palate.

Clos du Brueil Montlouis sur Loire 2011 Sec
Lovely vibrant floral honey wax, quite citric but also very mineralic flint elements, some limestone clay elements as well. Clean balanced, lovely purity ad minerality on the palate, a lot on the front and mid-palate but fades on the palate.

Les Argyle Vouvray 2011 Sec
Even more purity and consistency of fruit on the palate, bright white floral elements, less minerality but more juiciness. Balanced, more mid-palate and carry-through on the back of the palate, broader and fuller texture. Somehow more approachable.

Les Bournais Montlouis sur Loire 2007
Very powerful aromatics, bold ripe fruit character, honeyed floral some very subtle caramel notes. Full yet not heavy, ripe and rich but still good acids, powerful expression but also subtle and complex. The complexity will develop more over time.

Les Choisilles Montlouis dur Loire 2007
Somehow darker fruit notes, more honey less floral, slightly earthy minerality, some nice mature cheese notes. Rounder softer and less expressive in the mid-palate, less fruit as well. A little closed at the moment, but more potential for cellaring.

Les Bournais Montlouis sur Loire 2009
Showing barrel notes in its youth, ripe and fruity notes. Powerful and very expressive on the palate, but excellent acidity. Some tropical and citric elements, good texture, balance and weight. Needs some more time to show the more complex elements of the wine.

Les Choisilles Montlouis sur Loire 2009
Less aromatic, definitely in terms of fruit, very mineralic and flinty. Quite powerful expression, less fruit but certainly long on the palate. More closed somehow.

Les Tuffeaux Montlouis sur Loire 2009
Waxy honeyed citrus and peach. Lovely and bright, great fruit and some nice sweetness.

Moelleux Montlouis sur Loire 2009
Showing some barrel notes, very youthful but not so expressive. Full character but quiet at the moment, not showing a lot. Exceptionally long on the palate, showing great potential for ageing.

Les Lys Montlouis sur Loire 2009
Very shy and complex on the nose, but some delicate hints of stone fruit and lychee with delicate truffle aromas. Full and rich on the palate, broad and long with texture and viscosity. Not overly sweet or sticky, excellent acidity to balance.

The Francois Chidaine range of wines

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Domaine Bourillon – 22/11/2012

Premium Cuvee NV
Nice clean fruity nose, not a lot of autolysis notes, perhaps more detectable with the Champagne varieties. Bright stone fruit aromas. Good floral elements on the palate, bright clean, good balanced fruit and excellent acids. Pleasant and approachable, but with enough character to distinguish it from sparkling wine made in other regions and from other varieties.

La Coulee d’Argent 2011 Sec
Similar herbaceous notes to other chenin blanc, but with some nice floral apricot elements. Lovely light fresh but some good viscous texture, good fruit balance, stone fruit and a little tropical character. A little R/S to keep things approachable but adding some spice-killing fruity sweetness.

La Bourdonnerie 2011 Demi-sec
Slightly closed nose, delicate floral. Amazing complex roast chestnut hazelnut characters, lovely fruit and sweetness, but some interesting Italian sweet gelato elements. Round rich but fresh, nice layers of character and well integrated everything.

La Levriere 2010 Moelleux
An interesting step up in colour, a few more orange flecks to it. Initially had a mushroomy aroma to it, but then opened up to show more pear and truffle aromas. Texture and volume, more weight but an interesting amount of savoury notes to it. Quince and apple, a little citrus notes as well, quite complex.

La Coulee d’Or 2009 Moelleux
Even richer darker golden colour. Wild mushroom truffle, watercress, foie gras, dark apricot honeyed orange. Thick viscous and rich, honey, citrus, mushroomy, thick but not coating or sticky, not bright either. Good core of acidity balancing things nicely. Will really benefit with age.

Domaine Bourillon

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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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