We had a very enjoyable lunch with Jean-Ernest Sauvion (formerly Maison Sauvion/ Château du Cléray and now retired to western Touraine). Jacky’s Blot’s Triple Zero as the aperitif was followed by the 1996 elevé en fûts de chêne from the Clos Roche Blanche AC Touraine. This blend of Cabernet, Côt and Gamay is now called La Closerie. The 1996 continues to show well with good, evolved black fruit flavours and structure with some acidity in the finish. It worked well with a salad of goats’ cheese, lardoons and mushrooms. Although a surprise for those who think straight AC Touraine wines don’t age, however I don't think the 1996 will improve further.
“A step up in quality,” was how Jean-Ernest described the 1995 Grand Clos Saumur-Champigny from Château de Villeneuve. Partnered with an adapted boeuf-bourgignon, the 1995 was particularly delicious with its fragrant black fruits and cedar notes and good concentration. Probably at its peak now but should remain at this level for some time. So excellent was Le Grand Clos that you have to wonder why you would want to pay the large sums necessary to find the equivalent in Bordeaux. Equally it would be fascinating to put this blind against top Bordeaux.
English cheeses – Montgomery’s cheddar and Stichelton, an unpasteurised ‘Stilton’ – followed. Stichelton can’t be called Stilton because it is made from unpasteurised milk and sadly Stilton now has to be made with pasteurised milk. Both cheeses came from Neal’s Yard Diary in London. The long and delicately honeyed 1976 Haut-Lieu Vouvray moelleux from Huet was perfect with the cheeses. Complex aromas and flavours have now replaced some of the Haut-Lieu’s initial sweetness.
I bought a number of bottles of the 1976 during the 1980s and have found that the corks have been problematic – some of the levels on the bottles are quite low. Indeed one I tried about six months ago was only just over half full. Much to my surprise the remaining wine was still drinkable.
A tarte tatin demanded something sweeter than the 1976 Haut-Lieu Moelleux, so I chose the rich and honeyed 1990 Vouvray Moelleux Cuvée des Deronnières from Pascal Delaleu, Domaine de la Galinière in Vernou. Unlike a number of 1990 Vouvrays its colour was still light gold as quite often 1990s have developed a surprisingly deep golden colour.