Archives for category: Unusual Loire Wines

A long hiatus after the July ICC tasting as I was in France, so a double post: a belated note on that tasting with the Sock Club notes.

First: JULY ICC TASTING – “UNUSUAL LOIRE WINES”

On Thursday 20th July 2017 the ICC group met for the last time this season, to taste unusual wines sourced from the Loire. In fact all the wines come from the Coteaux du Loir or from the Eastern Touraine, and generally fall in the hand-crafted, old-vine, organic or even Biodynamic, artisan category. They were all sourced from the grower and paid for in Euros. Most are unavailable in the UK. If you want an idea of how much they might cost if they were, I’d suggest you multiply the Euro cost by 1.6 to get the UK £ sterling value… Soooo… over £150 worth of wine for the season sign-off….


Here are my notes:

VINEFERA SAUVIGNON 2015 (Marionnet – Domaine de la Charmoise)   –   13%   –   Grower €15
The nose is quite quiet for an SB, indeed there is only restrained floral and herbal notes rather than big grassy and gooseberry greenness. The fruit is more in the white peach direction and expands in the middle palate, the acidity is slightly cooler than most SB, more in the Sancerre style – clean and refreshing, longer and supporting a richer wine… Later grapefruit elements come out more. Good, and not obvious what grape it is, based on usual SB indicators.
Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  15/20

LA PURCELLE DE ROMORANTIN 2015 (Marionnet – Domaine de la Charmoise)   –   13½%   – Grower €17
From direct cuttings from a vineyard planted in the first half of the 19th Century. Nose is very restrained with a lightly floral nose. On the palate, it has a drying, slightly chalky strong citric acidity that is reminiscent of Chablis and gives the wine freshness, the fruit is more Chenin-like though – with soft fruit richness and a hint of passion-fruit, and a mineral edge. I liked this more than most, I think, and if I had to choose between this and the SB, I think this just shades it by a small fraction…
Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  15/20

“LA ROSÉE” 2015 (Mérieau)   –   12%   –   Grower €8
An encouraging onion-skin tone, with a slightly spicy nose, the palate has very strong acidity which has a herbal twist and a spicy finish. Food-friendly but a really a quaffing-with-summer-lunch Rosé.
Ratings:        Quality:  14/20   Value:  15/20

COTEAUX DU LOIR “ELIZARI” 2015 (Les Maisons Rouges)   –   13%   –   Grower €25
A translucent light colour, like an Alsace Pinot Noir. The nose has floral notes, pepper, growing herbal hints, and sweet red fruit, strawberry(?) element, the herbs have an aromatic quality in the fennel/menthol direction, but with less pungency… Chervil? The palate  is structured with warm acidity and that deep herbal quality, but sweet plum fruit waves through the structure. Very long and complex, different elements take the foreground on each approach over an hour or so. A star! A rarity that stands up as a fine wine on its own merits.
Ratings:        Quality:  18/20   Value:  16/20

“LES CEPAGES OUBLIES” 2015 (Marionnet – Domaine de la Charmoise)   –   12½%   –   Grower €14
Very dark indeed. A hint of carbonic maceration, growing with time but still only in the background. With sweet black fruits on both the nose and palate, it is like a black-fruit counterpoint to good (Morgon level) red-fruit, Cru Beaujolais. Without some of the structure of good Bojo – a very unusual wine that lacks a little acid structure
Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  15/20

“GUEULE DU BOA” 2011 (Mérieau)   –   12½%   –   Grower €18
A briar fruit nose, with a hint of warm citrus. The palate has sweet briar fruit and suppleness that is supported by a long line of fruit acidity. This gives balance and holds the wine, initially between Argentinian fruit and Cahors structure, at least as far as freshness and acidity go. In time, though still between the styles, it seems to drift a little towards the Argentinian style. Would be great with a dryish Lamb curry dish.
Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  15/20

Overall an interesting range of wines to put alongside the famous names of the Loire. The Loir wine from Les Maisons Rouges, was the stand-out for the majority present and it’s a fabulous wine. They produce a little brother – “Garance” from only (!?) 19 – 55 year old vines, while the Elizari vines are from 55 to 100+. They make a brilliant Jasnieres too… I will return there, and also to Domaine de la Charmoise, whose whites I enjoyed immensely.

The Loire is really a very diverse wine region… It makes you want to live there…

So – on to the JULY WING SOCK PARTY hosted by Yvonne on Friday July 28th: a lovely evening with good company, wine and food….

Here are my notes:


TE HUA BRUT CUVÉE (Gisbourne, NZ)         Welcome Wine
A NZ Bubbly from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc & Muscat. Floral hints, a slightly gluey note and some honey. The palate has a slightly pithy – especially at the finish – citrus quality, and a herby hint.

LEEUWIN ESTATE ART SERIES RIESLING 2010       Laurie
Very Riesling nose, lime juice and a hint of Diesel… Palate has a citrus acidity – warm but clean – but the soft fruit drops out a little in the middle before the acidity re-asserts itself. Not as good as the 2007 we tried in May 2016…

MADELEINE ANGEVINE 2013 (English Wine Project)       Sue Mc
Pungent nose, very grassy and even gooseberry reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc. Palate has a warm acidity and the fruit is pear with lemon hints.

CÔTES DE THAU “CUVÉE FLORENCE” 2016 (La Baume)        Mike
This is a Piquepoul / Sauvignon Blanc blend! Nose has a slightly smoky hint, then citrus and peachy fruit. Palate has some residual sugar but firm underlying acidity, which has the respective focused and warm lines of the component grapes not quite integrated…

CLAIRETTE DU LANGUEDOC 2015 (Paul Mas)       Ann
Fragrant nose of flowers, pear and sweet melon. The palate echoes the nose with a citrus and citrus peel sharpness. A warm-climate wine which hints at the exotic – maybe young?

TYRELL’S HUNTER VALLEY SEMILLON 2016         Anna
Pungent: floral and grapefruit with an exotic hint. Very strong acidity with a bitter twist supporting a mealy texture…. The wine has a depth that makes me think it has a long way to go…

FERRANDIÈRE PRESTIGE BLANC RESERVE 2015           Yvonne
This is another Paul Mas property from East of Carcassone, between Minervois and Corbieres. The grapes are oak-aged Viognier, Sauvignon and some Chardonnay. Hints of cinnamon on the nose then citrus, floral notes and a deeper fruit note – perhaps the separate elements of the blend, not quite integrated. The palate has over-ripe peach, ginger and apricots….

MOULIN-A-VENT “LES CHAMPS DU COUR” (Domaine du Moulin d’Eole) 2013         Kim
Sweet red fruit nose, some baking spice and soft citrus (orange?) – slight note of carbonic maceration. Palate is smooth with spicy elements, and a structured finish. Very good Beaujolais, at peak!

SAUMUR-CHAMPIGNY “LA CRIOIX DU CHAINTRE” (Fillatreau) 2013         Rob
Floral elements, spice and a herbal hint. Raspberry fruit and the tell-tale herbal acid line… very good example of S-C.

QUARTER ACRE HAWKES BAY SYRAH 2015        John
A resinous / Bay Leaf note over a black fruit aroma. Palate has spice, warm acidity with a black fruit with black olive tinge. A textbook New World Syrah, does the use of the name  Syrah rather than Shiraz tell of a target style nearer the Rhone than some big Aus Shiraz? I think so, and it’s probably over half way there…

CONDE D’ERVIDEIRA (Alentejo) 2013       Paul
A blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet and a little Cabernet Sauvingon. This shows a floral first nose, then a lighter cherry flavour. Cherry fruit follows on the palate with an earthy dimension and mouth-watering structure. Very successful and typical…

“VOX POPULI” BOBAL 2014       Sue T
From Utiel-Requena near Valencia, this dark wine has a slightly cheesy nose then dark fruit with smoke and floral overtones… Palate has high acidity, and a light fruit centre – but is a big wine with a drying sharp finish.

Thanks so much to Yvonne for a very lovely evening, hospitality and refreshments…

Until next time…

We all know the basic wine overview of the Loire… It’s divided into 4 big areas, each with their distinctive grapes and famous names. Going from West to East these are: Nantais (Muscadet from the Melon de Bourgogne grape); Anjou (Chenin Blanc); Touraine (more Chenin and Cabernet Franc); Centre (Sauvignon Blanc and some Pinot Noir). This gives a mental picture that can be represented a bit like this:


All well and good, and in fact a pretty accurate general picture. However, the four areas aren’t really of equal size. Just looking at West-East extension – Nantais is nearly 60 miles, Anjou only 45 miles, Torraine over 70 miles, and then a 20 mile gap to the 50 mile wide Centre. Production is uneven too: Nantais produces a bit over 10%; Anjou nearly 40%; although the geographically largest, Touraine only yields about 20%; and Centre nearly 30%.

Here’s a much more accurate topographically correct map:
All the above notwithstanding, the naive generalisation isn’t too far off. Only the small areas of the Vendée are not covered in the West. In Anjou you will find bits of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grolleau, and Gamay here and there (Gamay actually appears across Touraine too). The East only real exception is the deceptive Pouilly-sur-Loire (not Fumé) area which makes wines from Chasselas!

The real variations to the general picture are within the Touraine area.

You can find all sorts of grapes here but there are three main departures, which form the basis of this month’s tasting:

  • In the North: the often neglected areas of Coteaux du Loir and (less significantly) Coteaux du Vendômois
  • In the North-East: the odd areas of Cour-Cheverny and Cheverny and the Solonge area in general
  • The increasing presence of Malbec – under its original name Côt – especially as you go East along the Cher River. Côt actually arrived here from its original home in Quercy at the time of the renaissance, before going to Cahors and thence to Argentina…

Firstly the relatively little known area lying along Le Loir river about 25 miles due North of Tours. [Le Loir actually flows West, pretty well parallel to La Loire, for another 50 miles from here before joining the Sarthe just North of Angers.]
This area (sometimes referred to as North Touraine) is actually composed of three wine areas: Coteaux du Loir (CdL), Jasnières and Coteaux du Vendômois. You can read more by scrolling down to the post of January 24 2017…
Jasnières is an enclave within the general CdL area, capable of rather good Chenin Blanc – fierce acidity with a rich counterpoint. However the area’s oddity is the Pineau d’Aunis grape, a spicy, herby grape which must form 60% of the reds. Sometimes it’s 100% – and we’ll see what that’s like…

The area in the extreme NE of Touraine is the second source of strange wines. The story goes back to the renaissance ascent of the Château at Chambord – as a hunting home for Francois I in the early 16th Century. Many grapes, from Bourgogne and elsewhere, were planted there, nearby in the Solonge area and at Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny. The unusual white grape Romarantin is the main grape in the appellation of Cour-Cheverny… While Cheverny white is mainly Sauvignon Blanc, and red is a Pinot Noir / Gamay blend (recalling Bourgogne Passetoutgrains). Many grapes find their way into the Rosé from here and the surrounding area including Pineau d’Aunis again.
However other varieties also made their way to Chambord and despite being lost to phylloxera in their home some have survived. A couple moved from there to be in the Solonge winery of Henri Marionnet, Domaine de la Charmoise (you can read more about this winery by scrolling down to the September 20 2016 post).
As well as un-grafted Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin, Gamay and Côt, they have direct line descendants of the Chambord plantings of Romarantin and the otherwise extinct, Teinturier (red flesh), grape: Gamay de Bouze.

Finally – the eastern Touraine has an increasing preponderance of Côt. We’ll try an example from the Cher area, together with a Pineau d’Aunis Rosé sourced from the same grower..

Until soon…

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