Tag Archives: Vouvray

The Vincast with Loic Avril from Dinner by Heston Melbourne

Loic Avril was destined to work with wine, considering he grew up in one of France’s most historic wine regions, and sharing of great wine and food was always important to his family.  His love of hospitality and restaurants came very early, from the age of ten in fact, and he was determined to follow a path in fine dining. After gaining experience in restaurants in the Loire Valley and northern England, he joined the team at The Fat Duck – at one point considered the best restaurant in the world – and soon received significant attention when he was named the global best young sommelier. When the restaurant relocated to Melbourne for six months he relocated, and decided to stay and run the wine program when it transitioned to Dinner by Heston.

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Loic Avril from Dinner by Heston Melbourne

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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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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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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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