Friday morning was taken up with an extensive tasting of reds from the Central Vineyards with wines from Sancerre, Menetou-Salon, the Coteaux de Giennois, Reuilly and Châteaumeillant. All were pure Pinot Noir, except for those from the Coteaux de Giennois and Châteaumeillant, which were either pure Gamay or with a varying proportion of Pinot Noir. Under the bizarre appellation rules the producers of the Coteaux du Giennois are not allowed to make 100% Pinot Noir. Instead it has to be a blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir. Prior to becoming an AC in 1998 100% Pinot Noir was allowed and these were among the most interesting reds from the Giennois vineyards. The ways of the INAO remain shrouded in mystery!
Benoît Roumet and his team at the Bureau du Centre had assembled a record-breaking number of reds and the tasting was brilliantly organised with a full file of all the wines tasted to take away with me. My grateful thanks to Benoît and his equipe and also, of course, to all the producers who kindly submitted samples.
I tasted the wines blind, although I knew the appellation and the vintage. The overall impression is of encouraging progress being made, although there are big differences in both style and quality both within the five appellations and between them. I wasn’t surprised to find that most of the top wines came from Sancerre and I’m encouraged that many of my top picks came from well producers like Lucien Crochet, Alphonse Mellot, the Vacherons, Vincent Pinard, Dominique Roger and Jean-Max Roger. I was also pleased that my top picks were not confined to the ‘usual suspects’ but included Serge Laloue, Domaine de la Rossignole and Domaine Claude Riffault – their 2006 Antique was perhaps my top wine of the tasting.
(more to follow)