On Thursday 13th August the WING Group met to taste a selection of Cabernet Franc.

This was a panel tasting where 14 tasters sampled and scored 13 Loire wines. The 13 wines comprised: two “cheap and cheerful”(?) 2012s (A Bourgueil and a Saumur-Champigny), and 11 higher quality (allegedly at least), older vintages (2001-08 in fact). These wines – not doubt reflecting my taste – comprised 6 further Bourgueil, 3 Chinon and 2 Anjou Villages.

We attempted to conform the tasting to the style of Decanter magazine tasting – scoring each wine out of 20. Although we discussed standard setting at the outset, of course there was variation in different tasters ranges, over and above their stylistic preferences. This meant – with such a large group – that straight averages compressed scores towards the centre of the scoring range, around 15/20. As a result I decided to try to “normalise” the scores by looking at each tasters individual rankings – as opposed to scores. I did this by awarding ranking points and averaging those before grafting them back on an average scoring range… giving, in my opinion, scores and intervals similar to most scorers.

This led to a scoring range with the wines straddling the “Fair” and “Recommended” categories used by Decanter, with the top two just shading up into the “Highly Recommended” category. I then used notes which are compiled using those of tasters that ranked each wine near its final position.

Here are those notes, with a few general comments from me:
Chinon Chateau de a Grille 2001 (Ch de La Grille) 17.37
One of the few wines to show floral – violet or lily – aromas, though it took some time to appear, along with leafy notes. Other people reported blackcurrant, mushroom, liquorice,sandalwood… Slightly spirit palate with a spicy mid palate which many found balanced. 9 of 14 tasters rated this in their top 4.

Anjou Brissac 2002 (Richou) 17.04
Quiet nose with some stalkiness. Showing mature signs with ripe fruit on the palate with some sweetness and balancing acidity and still present tannins, maybe from the 20% Cabernet Sauvignon included in the blend..

 Chinon Chapelle 2003 (Ch de la Bonnaliere) 16.29
Fragrant nose with spice and some prune and minty notes. Palate shows plums too, rather big (the year?) with some grainy tannin, not typical but enjoyable.

Bourgueil Chevalerie 2006 (Dmn de la Chevalerie) 16.24
Serious, spicy and herby, even minty. Sweet fruit on the palate but balanced by herby grip. Develops in the glass.

Bourgueil Chevalerie 2008 (Dmn de la Chevalerie) 15.99
Quite a heavy, recessed nose with dried fruit elements, palate has powerful plum fruit lurking with herby twists.

Bourgueil Grand Mont 2007 (Druet) 15.59
Wood (Sandalwood) and cardamom and some fragrance were reported for this wine. Palate has striking acidity and dark fruit in a serious but quite balanced package.

Bourgueil Vaumoreau 2002 (Druet) 15.40
Dark, earthy, black fruit and heavier components. Palate has sharpish lighter fruit and significant spicy tannins. A bit untypical…

Chinon Cuvee de la Cure 2007 (Joguet) 15.21
Immediate pungency with compost element. Palate very different – quite light with a supple tannins and red fruit, but the finish tails off quickly.

Saumur Champigny Tradition 2012 (Dmn de La Cune) 15.19
An obviously younger, more immediate wine – with light stalkiness, slightly jammy fruit and quaffability. Some scored this against this, slightly different, standard.

Anjou Brissac 2004 (Richou) 15.12
Quiet, slightly dusty and oily nose. Drying pencil palate with jammy fruit, a little dilute and short.

Bourgueil Grand Mont 2002 (Druet) 15.10
Quite fruity – with red berries and some spice. Rather soft and (over?) evolved palate which veers towards plums and dries out with herby tannins. This shows some sign of opening with time and might have scored higher later, which may account for the diversity of scores: 4 scores rated this in their top 4,  and 4 in their bottom 4!

Bourgueil Grand Mont 2006 (Druet) 14.83
Dusty nose with spice, cloves and red fruit. Palate has some sweet fruit, again tending to plum but a dull-ish finish…

Bourgueil Diptyque 2012 (Dmn de la Chevalerie) 13.14
Another young, easy drinking style, but less accomplished at achieving that than the Saumur. Sweet fruit with a spicy hint – but light, simple and a little short.

This was an interesting tasting, as much for the experience of trying to differentiate so many similar wines (a new situation for most present) as for the wines themselves.

Another thing that struck me was a fatigue factor, especially with the dryer, more highly structured wines which turned out to be mainly Bourgueils. This led, I think to a narrowing of perception, and hence scores between wines tasted later.

Finally, with the exception of a couple of younger fruiter less complex or serious wines (pretty easy to pick…) the age of the wines (on average about 10 years) had turned any elements of the typical, stalky, green capsicum elements into more general herb and spice notes: thyme, bay leaf, cardamom, liquorice… Similarly the fruit present had turned from cherry or raspberry into plum, prune, damson…but acidity and drying tannins had persisted if in more integrated form.

All in all though a tasting of fairly good Loire reds which showed the staying power and quality of Cabernet Franc.

Thanks so much to everyone who participated and their efforts in scoring and making notes.