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Posts Tagged ‘Savennières’

Our beloved Leslie Lovo takes the Gold, going 4 for 4 on the blind tasting, during the 2010/2011 inaugural MPA Wine Tasting, this past Saturday. Felicidades Leslie ! (the 5th round was a wash or maybe a slosh describes it better, because people were a little too happy by that point) And thanks to Keith and Kelsey for being such wonderful hosts !

In order of tasting …

2007 Domaine des Roches Neuves (Thierry Germain) “L’Insolite” Saumur
Tasting Notes : 100% chenin blanc, clay-limestone soil, fermentation in oak barrel, aged 12 months in oak, 13% vol. Quite raw, fleshy, fruity and complex on the nose, almost effervescent, with notes of fresh grass and flowers. Full-bodied, balanced, slightly off-dry and a little sour in the mouth. This wine is rich and slightly bitter with flavors of apples, peach and dried raisins.
Rating : 15/20 (13.3/20 MPA average)
Price : 18€00 @ La Grande Epicerie Paris

MPA winos …
Laura, “makes my inner thighs tingle” (14/20)
Jonathan, “dewey Spring morning” (11/20)
Christina, “pineapple, orange blossom” (13/20)
Rajul, “baba au rhum, pear with a hint of fresh paint thinner” (9.6/20)
Sayko, “onion rings with vinegar” (17/20)
Virginie, “swimming pool” (15/20) (more…)

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This past Friday and Saturday, on location at my new gig at Domain du Closel - Château des Vaults, I took the opportunity to visit three more neighboring Savennières producers. After visiting six Savennières producers in three days, I’m extremely pleased with the quality and diversity that we all have to offer. Domaine des Baumard, very well-known in the US, might be the first Savennières producer to experiment with screw caps. All of their wines are now bottled with screw caps, which is very much a “New World” approach, and can be considered quite provocative among the traditionalists of France. My second visit was with Claude Papin of Château Pierre Bise. Claude is an anti-communicator communicator. Boy can the man talk ! He is passionate about terroir, a “terroirist” if you will. He believes a good wine should sell itself through its terroir, not through marketing and promotions. Although this is a very admirable and inspiring approach, my personal and professional belief is that like a good wine, it should always be a balance of the two. After all, if we make a good wine, then we want people to drink it ! Unfortunately, this usually requires a little bit of business communications. In either case Claude is a great viticulturist and winemaker and should be respected as such. My final visit on Saturday was with Jo Pithon of Pithon-Paillé. Jo is what some refer to as a “peasant” winemaker. He is very friendly, approachable and casual and is knee deep in his winemaking. His Anjou Rouge is one of the best I’ve ever had.

Below are the wines I tasted … (more…)

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OK so I lied, I really didn’t meet with Nicolas Joly. BUT I did have the pleasure of tasting with his daughter, Virginie, the next generation of biodynamic viticulturists. In fact she’s now in charge of winemaking at Coulée de Serrant. After this first tasting, I stopped by Domaine aux Moines for a tasting with owner and former winemaker, Monique Laroche. My final stop was with Luc Bizard, owner of Château d’Epiré. I’ve always been a huge fan of Savennières wine, especially for its complexity, minerality and great expression of terroir. However, I’m now an even huger fan I must say. The majority of the wines were showing very well and the commitment of each producer was evident. These visits were part of my second day on the job at Closel – Château des Vaults in order to gain a better taste of what our neighboring wineries are pumping out. This is not about competition. This is about spreading the word on the beauty and quality of Savennières, which so many of the local producers are offering, including us I might add ! ;-)

Below are my tasting notes. The overall conclusion is that I’m a huge fan of the 2008 Savennières vintage … (more…)

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This past Wednesday In Vino Veritas hosted one of its last tastings of the year.  As a fitting near end to a great year, Phil invited a producer from within the ranks of the association.  Romuald de Pontbriand, Sciences Po student and member of In Vino Veritas, is also part of the family that owns Domaine du Closel, located in the Anjou-Saumur region of the Loire Valley.  Romuald highlighted ten different wines, produced by his family’s domaine.

Domaine du CloselMichèle de Jessey, Romauld’s grandmother, is the General Manager of the domaine.  She is quite accomplished and in fact was the first women president of an AOC in France, presiding over the Savennières appellation in 1990 and 1993.  The Domaine du Closel has 15 hectares of vineyards, plus 7-8 hectares reserved for future plantings.  The domaine specializes in white wines from the Savennières appellation, which is comprised of a total of 130 hectares.  The required grape varietal is chenin blanc, also known locally as Pineau de Loire.  The domaine also produces wines from the Anjou and Anjou-Villages appellations.  Anjou comprises 3,200 hectares and the grape varietals permitted are chenin blanc (minimum 80% in white blends), chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and pineau d’aunis, also known as chenin noir.  However, the domaine only makes Anjou rouge.  Anjou-Villages is a much more restricted and smaller appellation than Anjou with only 300 hectares of vineyards.  Anjou-Villages is strictly a red wine appellation.  Cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon are the only permitted grape varietals.

Chenin BlancDomaine du Closel owns the following vineyards—Clos du Papillon, Les Caillardières and La Jalousie.  Clos du Papillon’s soil is composed of schist, and is enriched with volcanic rocks, producing elegant dry wines of complexity and lingering fragrance.  Furthermore these wines are known to have good minerality and aromas of smoked roasted almonds, apricots, and white flowers.  They age well, developing notes of beeswax and honey.  Les Caillardières has the same soil composition but in varying proportions, producing an often times off-dry wine with more expressive floral aromas.  Regarding vinification all grapes are manually harvested and in the case of Savennières there is no maceration on the skins.  Anjou and Anjou-Villages receive from 10 to 22 days of maceration on the skins.  Additionally all wine are released approximately one year after harvest and are meant for drinking young.  Although, as I already mentioned, the Clos du Papillon ages rather well and the Anjou-Villages can age for 5 to 6 years.

Here’s what we tasted …

2005 Domaine du Closel “Une Emotion”, Anjou
Blend: cabernet franc
Tasting Notes: Electric purple in the glass.  A fresh nose with cherry, acid, and raspberry cream aromas, followed by secondary notes of leather.  A light-bodied, dry wine with moderate tannins and a refreshing acidity.  There are flavors of dark chocolate and black cherry.  Drink young.
Rating: 12/20
2003 Domaine du Closel, Anjou-Villages2003 Domaine du Closel, Anjou-Villages
Blend: 50% cabernet franc, 50% cabernet sauvignon
Tasting Notes: Dark violet in the glass.  An elegant nose with mineral and violet notes.  More tannic than the prior with bitter acidity and black fruit flavors.  Unbalanced and disjointed.
Rating: 11/20

2007 Domaine du Closel “La Jalousie” Savennières2007 Domaine du Closel “La Jalousie”, Savennières
Blend: chenin blanc
Tasting Notes: Straw yellow in the glass.  A ripe and fleshy nose up front that mellowed out to a crisp minerality and notes of flower and apple.  A medium-bodied, dry wine with a silky and simple structure.  There are flavors of apple and ginger with subtle peach and mineral notes.
Rating: 12/20

2003 Domaine du Closel “Les Caillardières”, Savennières
Blend: chenin blanc
Tasting Notes: Light golden yellow in the glass.  A fresh and complex nose suggestive of brioche and with more floral aromatics than the prior.  There are notes of spice, minerality, white pepper, and pear.  Off dry with balanced acidity, apricot and pear flavors along with a subtlety of canned peaches on the finish.
Rating: 13/20

Domaine du Closel “Les Caillardières” Savennières2004 Domaine du Closel “Les Caillardières”, Savennières
Blend: chenin blanc
Rating: Light golden yellow in the glass.  Good finesse and elegance on the nose with still more floral notes, along with peach and a very subtle green pepperyness.  Still more finesse in the mouth and a sweet acidity, although a dry wine.  There are flavors of apple, grapefruit and apricot and great minerality.
Rating: 14/20 (WS 90)
Price: $21 @ Wine Spectator

2006 Domaine du Closel “Le Clos du Papillon”, Savennières
Blend: chenin blanc
Tasting Notes: Light honey in the glass.  A very mineral nose with great floral notes, along with spice, peach and grass.  Citric and fruity in the mouth with good minerality and a bitterness that lingers from the midpalate through to the finish.  Reminiscent of rubber tire, although not unpleasant.
Rating: 14/20

Domaine du Closel “Le Clos du Papillon” Savennières2004 Domaine du Closel “Le Clos du Papillon”, Savennières
Blend: chenin blanc
Tasting Notes: Light honey in the glass.  A ripe and plump nose with a mild and pleasant funk, and notes of honey, butter and beeswax.  Dry, medium-bodied and good balance in the mouth with peach flavors and a bitter finish.
Rating: 14/20
Price: $26 @ Wine Spectator

2001 Domaine du Closel “Le Clos du Papillon”, Savennières
Blend: chenin blanc
Tasting Notes: Light golden in the glass.  A beautiful and complex nose with strong violets pushing through and notes of tropical fruit, mango, peach, and peppermint.  Light to medium-bodied with good acidity, well-balanced and a silky texture.  There are flavors of peach and violets and a very mild bitterness.
Rating: 16/20 (WS 89)
Price: $19 @ Wine Spectator

2003 Domaine du Closel “Le Clos du Papillon”, Savennières
Blend: chenin blanc
Tasting Notes: Light golden in the glass.  A plump nose with good fragrance and notes of almond, butter, mineral, ginger and graham cracker.  Full-bodied and semi-sweet with a silky texture and a balanced acidity.  Flavors of orange and honey.
Rating: 15/20

2007 Chateau des Vaults, Cremant Rosé
Blend: cabernet sauvignon
Tasting Notes: Strawberry pink with very light copper tones in the glass.  Fizzy and demi-sec with great balance and good acidity.  There’s good minerality, a subtle and pleasant bitterness and flavors of raspberry, strawberry, white peach and maraschino cherries. This wine is a new addition to the Domaine’s selection and only recently made it out of the laboratory.  I’d say the experiments paid off!
Rating: 15/20

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On Wednesday the 28th Phil, President of In Vino Veritas, invited over a few friends from IVV and their alumni group Millésimes, for a private blind tasting.  On the agenda the main objective was practice and preparation for the upcoming 2009 blind tasting competitions.  There are many student competitions throughout France I am sure, but In Vino Veritas at Sciences Po participated in two last year.  The first is organized by Pol Roger, which hosts the semi-finals in February in Paris and the finals in June, matching up the best teams from the French cities of Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, and Lille, alongside Oxford and Cambridge.  The second competition is Vin/20, which holds its semi-finals in April and the finals in June in Bordeaux.  This competition is organized by the Commanderie du Bon Temps du Médoc, des Graves, de Sauternes et de Barsac and is hosted by the Baron himself (Éric de Rothschild) at Châtaeu Lafite Rothschild.  The competition is strictly focused on blind tasting Left Bank Bordeaux, with participants asked to identify the commune and the vintage.  Cambridge won the grand prize last year.  In fact both Cambridge and Oxford are known for having very strong teams and are given a free ride to the finals every year.  However, the schools in France must first to go through a preliminary qualifying round in order to be invited to the finals in Bordeaux.  Additionally, adding a third competition to the mix, this year In Vino Veritas is organizing it’s own Sciences Po International Tasting (SPIT).  Gotta love the name!  The details are pending but the competition will be hosted by Bollinger in Aÿ on April 25th and schools from around France and abroad will be invited.  Ya’ll might be interested to know that in addition to food, housing, and transportation being covered for all participants for all three competitions, the prizes given out are pretty remarkable, including wine trips, cases of Grand Cru old vintage wine, and rare double magnum bottles, including 1985 Lafite for example.

Let me make a quick call out to Phil for any corrections on the details behind these competitions, because this is the real deal and can get pretty intense, although a hell of a lot of fun as well.  And certainly In Vino Veritas is in it to win this year.  So the best of luck to Phil and the team at IVV!  Unfortunately I will be out of the country during this year’s first competition; however, I look forward to maybe having the opportunity to participate in 2010.

2006 Yannick Amirault “Les Quartiers”So back to our blind tasting practice round at Phil’s place.  There were about 7 of us and each person brought a specially selected bottle meant to be representative of a particular region.  There was no method to the madness, other than the general requisite that all bottles had to be from France.  Again our goal was to identify region, varietals, and vintage.  So we were off, tasting a flight of 9 bottles, 5 whites and 4 reds, tasting notes listed below.

2005 Domaine de la Pinte, Arbois-Pupillin “Viandries”
Appellation: Arbois, Jura
Varietal: chardonnay
Tasting Notes: Aromas of almond and banana.  A balanced acidity in the mouth with flavors of nuts, almonds, orange and hazlenut.
Rating: 16/20

2007 René Carroi Sancerre2007 René Carroi
Appellation: Sancerre, Loire
Varietal: sauvignon blanc
Tasting Notes: Minerality, floral notes and apple on the nose.  A nice acidity in the mouth with flavors of lemon, orange and general citrus throughout.
Rating: 14/20

2005 Eurl Thierry Puzelat
Appellation: Touraine, Loire
Varietal: sauvignon blanc
Tasting Notes: Mild oxidation on the nose with aromas of almond, pineapple and fleshy white tropical fruit, followed by subtle fig and dates.  A light wine with flavors of orange, apple, white peach and dates.
Rating: 15/20

2005 Domaine du Closel “Clos du Papillon” Savennières2005 Domaine du Closel, Château des Vaults “Clos du Papillon”
Appellation: Savennières, Loire
Varietal: chenin blanc
Tasting Notes: Citrus and very subtle creaminess on the nose.  A blanced wine with flavors of peach, apple, orange and orange zest and very faint cream.
Rating: 14/20

WS 94 (vintage 2004): Big wine, but with excellent definition and purity, this sports ginger powder, unsalted butter, white peach, honeysuckle and persimmon notes. Nice bracing finish has a hint of bitter 2004 Domaine Ostertag Muenchberg Pinot Gris Grand Crualmond. Drink now through 2012. 300 cases imported. –JM

2004 Domaine Ostertag Muenchberg
Appellation: Alsace Grand Cru
Varietal: pinot gris
Tasting Notes: Pineapple and floral aromas.  Light and citric in the mouth with an orange finish.
Rating: 15/20

2001 Chateau Cap de Mourlin Saint-Emilion Grand Cru2001 Château Cap de Mourlin Grand Cru
Appellation: Saint-Emlion, Bordeaux
Blend: 65% merlot, 25% cabernet franc, 10% cabernet sauvignon
Tasting Notes: Aromas of vegetable, rocks, earth, blackberries and plums.  Strong tannins but with a balanced acidity and flavors of blackberries and blueberries.
Rating: 17/20

2006 P. Corbineau “La Croiy Foucher”
Appellation: Touraine, Loire
Varietal: cabernet franc
Tasting Notes: Green pepper, olive, and pronounced cherry aromas.  Well balanced with flavors of cherry, and blueberry.
Rating: 16/20

2004 Chateau des Tours Reserve Côtes-du-Rhone2004 Château des Tours Reserve
Appellation: Côtes-du-Rhone, Rhone
Blend: 65%, 20% syrah, 15% cinsault
Tasting Notes: Floral, blueberry and Coca-Cola aromas.  Flavors of blueberry, plums and milk chocolate, followed by meaty flavors and texture.
Rating: 17/20

WS 86: A spicy style, with coffee and mocha notes leading the way for fig and blackberry fruit, followed by a soft, fleshy finish. Drink now. 4,165 cases made. –JM

2006 Yannick Amirault “Les Quartiers” Bourgueil2006 Yannick Amirault “Les Quartiers”
Appellation: Bourgueil, Loire
Varietal: cabernet franc
Tasting Notes: Aromas of violets, olives and cloves.  In the mouth there is dark chocolate, cherry, blueberry and leather.
Rating: 15/20

WS 92: A dark, grippy red from France’s Loire Valley, with charcoal, mesquite, roasted fig, dark olive and mineral notes coursing through while a backdrop of plum sauce and toast waits in reserve. The structured, mouthfilling finish drips with fruit and mouthwatering olive notes. Best from 2009 through 2017. 821 cases made. –JM

NV Alvear Pedro Ximenez “1927 Solera”NV Alvear Pedro Ximenez “1927 solera”
Appellation: Jerez, Spain
Varietal: pedro ximenez
Tasting Notes: A nutty nose with intensely syrupy sweet flavors and almonds on the palate.
Rating: 15/20
Pairing: Pour this over vanilla ice cream and you won’t regret it!
Note: This glass wasn’t part of the blind tasting practice but rather was just a nice casual closure to the night, while talking with Phil about education and healthcare in Canada (he’s from Quebec).

WS 92: Menthol and prune aromas and flavors highlight this intense, sweet dessert wine. It exhibits plenty of brightness and complexity, ending with butterscotch and bitter chocolate notes. Nicely put together. Drink now. 300 cases imported. –BS

Anecdote…

Well after 2 months of what has been the most organizationally and emotionally crazy roller coaster that I can remember, FINALLY the end objective has been met.  So what the hell am I talking about?  I’m going to South Korea and Japan for 10 days!  Miki San will be hosting me and a few friends in Tokyo and Gom will be hosting us in Seoul.  I won’t go into all of the drama and what would have made for an amazingly successful reality TV show, but let’s just say we’ve been through absolute ecstacy and jubliation and absolute devastation and tears from one moment to the next, throughout the whole trip planning process, which was made so difficult since we were presented with the challenge of planning such a trip in tandem with a 2-week study trip to China (Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an) that will immediately follow.  Wow that was a long sentence!  Unfortunately we had to deal with one of the worst travel agencies I’ve come across in my life as well as many last second straight-out-of-left field decisions and changes from our program’s administration.

Anyways, the point is, we’re going!  Departing on Finnair tomorrow the 30th.  And although this will be a whirlwind tour, I certainly plan to post about regional wine while I’m adventuring through East Asia.  I’ll be back in Paris on the 22nd of February.

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