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

Sunday, 1 February 2009

'Renaissance des AOC' tasting

Renaissance tasting: early afternoon when less crowded

Off quite early this morning – crisp blue sky, sunny but cold – to the Renaissance tasting in the Greniers Saint-Jean in the western part of Angers on the other side of the River Maine. Walking across the bridge over the Maine the damage from the recent fire to part of the Château d'Angers was all too apparent. I stupidly thought I would take a photo on the way back as I was keen to get to the tasting as early as possible. Unfortunately I miscalculated as the sun was right in the way on my return, so no pic.

The Renaissance tasting is becoming increasingly popular and rapidly develops into a bun-fight – une guerre des brioches in French perhaps? Today was no exception: at 10am it was fine but by 10.45 it was impossible to get in to taste with some of the most popular producers.

I guess I spent about four hours there and managed to taste around 70% of the Loire wines in the tasting – the Renaissance event includes producers from all over France but obviously the Angers event attracts a sizeable Loire contingent.

I tasted too many wines in not ideal conditions to post detailed notes. Rather I'm going to pick out a selection that particularly grabbed my attention and list them. It should be remembered that quite a number of them are unfinished wines, which are likely to change considerably by the time they are bottled.

Some wines that stood out:

2007 Carabas, AC Touraine François Plouzeau
Blend of Chenin/Sauvignon

2007 Le Herdelean, Michel Augé, Domaine des Maisons Brulées
Blend of Gamay/Pinot Noir

2008 Le P'tit Blanc, Joël Menard
100% Chenin

2007 Clos de la Bergerie, Virginie Joly, la Roche aux Moines
La Coulée de Serrant 100% Chenin

2007 La Lune Mark Angeli
2007 Les Fourchardes Mark Angeli
100% Chenin 'Appellation Vin de Table'

2008 Charrette Charlotte Battais and Mickael Demonsais
2008 Argolide Marta Irico
Two interesting small new ventures based in Anjou producing their first wines in 2008. Charlotte and Mickael with just 0.5ha of Chenin and Marta with 2ha – 1.20 Chenin and 0.86 Gamay.

2007 Le Noëls de Monbenault, Anjou Blanc, Richard Leroy
100% Chenin

2007 Azay-le-Rideau, Luc-Jean Sylvos, Château de la Roche
100% Chenin – vibrant and mineral.

2008 Hermine d'Or (black label), Domaine de la Louvertrie, Joseph Landron
From vines between 20-70 years old on sandy soils over clay and gneiss. Also
Atmosphere à Landron
Very good sparkling made from 30% Pinot Noir and 70% Folle Blanche (Gros Plant)

2005 Cour Cheverney, Michel Gendrier Domaine des Huards
Austere but honeyed.

2007 Calligramme, Jasnières, Eric Nicolas, Domaine de Bellivière
Great balance and precision, good concentration

2006 Le Volagré, Montlouis Stéphane Cossais

2008 Minérale, Montlouis Frantz Saumon

2007 Argile, Vouvray, François Chidaine

2006 Kharakter, Jasnières, Christian Chaussard and Natalie Gaubicher, Le Briseau
Honey and minerals – tasting better than when I visited Christian at Le Briseau in early August 2008.

2007 La Nef des Fous, Montlouis, Valery Mordelet and Jean-Daniel Kloeckle, Domaine Les Loges de la Folie

2008 Les Quarts de Nuits, Montlouis Sec, Laurent Chatenay

2005 Les Quarts, Coteaux-du-Layon-Faye-d'Anjou
2004 La Passion,
Coteaux-du-Layon-Faye-d'Anjou, Eddy Oosterlinck-Bracke, Domaine de Juchepie

2007 Les Picasses, Chinon, Etienne and Pascale Bonnaventure, Château de Coulaine
Impressive texture, weight and length for a 2007.

2007 Les Corbeaux d'Ardenay, Anjou Rouge, Patrick Baudouin

I was critical of Patrick's reds back in the mid to late 1990s – tannic and clumsy. This 2007, full of concentrated black fruits with a considerable structure, has taken two years to ferment but shows that I badly need to retaste Patrick's very considerably improved reds.
Also 2006 L'Effusion, Anjou Blanc.

2009 Top prize for oddities awarded to 2006 Les Ortinières, Jean-François Chene (Beaulieu-sur-Layon). Long time (18 months I think he said) in barrel without topping up gives this wine an awful, stale sherry nose – slightly better on the palate. Why go to the bother of making something so unattractive? The estate is called La Coulée d'Ambrosia, so Jean-François clearly has a well-developed sense of humour.


List to be continued tomorrow (now complete) but just time to mention an excellent dinner this evening@Le Petit Comptoir, 40, Rue David d'Angers 49100 Angers Four wonderful courses for 45€ – a special menu for the eve of the Salon des Vins. I think the normal menu is 30€. Great cooking and good value. Wines drunk: 2006 Les Clos des Rouliers, Anjou Blanc, Richard Leroy – initially quite fat but minerality developed in glass giving the wine a fine balance. Richard is definitely a star. Followed by the 2005 Saumur-Champigny, Bruno Dubois – for anyone who thinks that all Loire reds are light and fruit this concentrated little number from Bruno should make them think again.

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