Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Côtes de Forez and Côte Roannaise: some exciting discoveries

Roussanne de Madone Vignes sur Volcan

On Tuesday I tasted my first ever Loire Roussanne – it was impressively good. A completely new discovery for me. I knew that there is some vin de pays Viognier planted around Roanne. There is even a small secret plot somewhere in the Layon – others also perhaps – but I hadn't realised that there is some Roussanne planted in the Côtes de Forez. As Gamay is the only variety permitted in the Côtes de Forez appellation (red and rosé), this Roussanne is an IGP: Pays d'Urfé. 

2011 Roussanne de Madone Vignes sur Volcan, Gilles Bonnefoy, Champdieu.
From organically grown grapes, this is an impressively rich Roussanne apricot, touch of honey, good length and power.

The vines were planted in 2001 on the steep, south-facing slope of the Purchon volcano. Yield in 2011 was 35 hl/ha. According to Gilles Bonnefoy the only way that Roussanne can be ripened in Forez is if it is planted on south-facing slopes preferably of volcanic original, which is very good at capturing and retaining heat. Apparently Roussanne, which is one of the latest varieties to ripen, is very susceptible to oidium and grey rot.

I shouldn't be that surprised that some Roussanne and Viognier are grown in these parts. Roanne is on a level with the Beaujolais, while parts of the Cotes de Forez are to the south of Lyon and about on a level with Vienne.   


It is always humbling but also exciting to discover significant gaps in what is going on in the Loire. In late September I was sent some samples from Forez and the Roannaise. I'm now working my way through them and am particularly excited by wines I'm tasting from the Côtes de Forez. Which is not to say that I'm not tasting interesting things from the Roannaise but this is less of a surprise as I was last there in 2009. I haven't been to the Forez for at least 15 years. I'm now convinced, however, that I have to put this right in 2013.

Other wines tasted: 

Côtes de Forez 2011 Memoire de Madone Gamay sur Volcan VV Gilles Bonnefoy, Champdieu
Light bodied, soft and supple. Spicy, black fruits nose, pleasant. Improves after the bottle has been opened a while and with food. But less exciting than his Roussanne. 

2011 Clos de Chozieux, JL et Y Gaumon, Leigneux
Medium bodied, quite deep coloured with power and character. Some very attractive black fruits and to date certainly one of most interesting of the selection of samples of Forez and Roannaise that I have tried. Worked well with arroz de pato. Indeed this is the best Cotes de Forez that I have tried - a big but rather meaningless claim as my experience of the Forez wines is extremely limited!

 2011 Boutheran, Côte Roannaise, Philippe et Jean-Marie Vial  

2011 Boutheran Côte Roannaise Philippe and Jean-Marie Vial 5.50€ TTC
Boutheran is one of the leading sites of the Côte Roannaise. This is pleasantly soft with easy red fruits -red currant - but with quite marked acidity. Rather 2D - would prefer a little more concentration.

 2011 Le Volcanique, Côtes de Forez, Verdier-Logel  

2011 Le Volcanique, Côtes de Forez, Odile Verdier and Jacky Logel     
Odile Verdier and Jacky Logel are one of the very few producers I have visited in the Côtes de Forez, albeit that this was at least 15 years ago. The now 17 hectare estate is certified organic. Sadly I was disappointed with their 2011, which was spoilt by quite marked, green acidity. Must try again as I remember i had enjoyed their wines when I visited all those years ago.     


2011 Tradition, Côte Roannaise, Domaine de la Paroisse, Jean-Claude Chaucesse, Renaison
The domaine has been in the family since 1610 and now has 7 hectares of vines above the village of Renaison. It is now run by Jean-Claude (13 generation) and Laetitia Chaucesse. The tradition is attractively easy drinking with red fruits and some spice. The acidity is a little marked but less so than the Forez of Verdier-Logel.  


 2011 (L') Incorruptible, Côte Roannaise 

2011 (L') Incorruptible, Côte Roannaise, Domaine Robert Sérol, Renaison, 8.00 € TTC.
The Domaine Robert Sérol with its 24 hectares is probably the best known estate in the Côte Roannaise. This is due, in part, to its long association with the Troisgros family, who run a well-reputed restaurant in nearby Roanne. They also make very good, attractive wines. The estate is now run by Stéphane and Carine Sérol.      

The 2011 (L') Incorruptible Just utterly delicious, juicy lively, black fruited Gamay with just enough acidity to encourage you to take another mouthful. Dangerous easy to drink.

August 2009: Carine and Stéphane Sérol with a bottle of (L') Incorruptible – probably the 2008?

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