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

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

2009 Loire Sauvignon Blanc Ambassadors

Following the tasting in Tours on 19th and 20th February, here are the 29 Sauvignon Blanc Ambassadors for 2009. This is the first year of the Loire Sauvignon Blanc Project that involves both VDP Val de Loire and AOC Touraine.

Sam Harrop MW

59 producers entered 72 wines – 55 Appellation Touraine and 17 VDP Val de Loire. Of the 29 Ambassadors selected, 21 are from Touraine and 8 VDP Val de Loire. This is 40% success rate and Sam and the panel felt that this was very encouraging as this is the project's first year.

20 of the Ambassadors (both Touraine and VDP) come from the department of Loir et Cher showing the importance of the Cher Valley for Sauvignon Blanc.

During the tasting the successful wines were put into three taste categories. 21% were ripe and fruity moving towards exotic fruit flavours, 48% citric – grapefruit etc., and 31% crisp, vegetal quite austere style. 83% of the wines selected had a UK retail price of £5.99 or less with only five costing more than £5.99. This probably is an accurate reflection of the customary price of Loire Sauvignon Blanc, excluding those from the Central Vineyards – Sancerre etc. One of the ambitions for the project is to raise the average of price of these wines in the UK through increasing the quality and their profile.

Joe Wadsack

Of the wines rejected: 33% were too vegetal, 46% lacked zip, aroma and interest, 9% were reduced and 12% had other faults.

Sarah Ahmed

The wines were tasted by a small team led by Sam Harrap MW, who consultant to the project. He was joined by Sarah Ahmed (The Wine Detective), Henri Chapon (formerly wine buyer for the Hotel du Vin chain now back in his native, Montrichard), Joe Wadsack (formerly wine buyer for Waitrose and now media star) and myself. Notes on each Ambassador were written during the tasting have been compiled by Sam and appear in italics. Important to remember that most of these wines were cask samples and had not yet been bottled. Tasting notes should always be treated with caution – notes on unfinished wines doubly so.

Appellation Touraine

EARL Patricia and Bruno Denis, Domaine de la Renaudie, 41110 Mareuil Sur Cher: 2008 AOC Touraine
Ripe fruity commercial thiol style with citrus notes at its core. Very suited to the UK palate. Nice acidity, with a touch of sugar.

Annie Girard, 41400 Thenay: 2008 Domaine de la Croix Bouquie, AOC Touraine
Canned fruit salad. Low SO2 and needs to be cleaned up before bottling, but ripe, intense, and clean. Lingers. Well made but adjust the SO2.

EARL Patrick Vauvy, 41140 Noyers-sur-Cher: 2008 AOC Touraine
Nose closed. Palate much better and impressive but lacking purity on nose. Needs sample preparation. Copper. A shame because the wine is clearly smart and with the correct handling pre-bottling it could turn out to be a very nice wine. Highlights need to get the sample procedures correct before entering into competitions or showing to the buyer. On retasting we have decided to give this the benefit of the doubt. But note the consumer doesn’t get 4 hours to retaste. Copper needed for sure.

SCA Roc de Châteauvieux, 41110 Châteauvieux 2008 AOC Touraine
Fruit salad, clean, hint of garden herbs, herbal notes dominate fruit salad. Complex primary style technical and well made. Lovely weight and super length.

Jacky Goumin, 41130 Châtillon-sur-Cher: 2008 Domaine des Souterrains, AOC Touraine
Ripe fruit salad; technical style. Intense bouquet that has a touch of sulphide but probably tank. Palate good attack and concentrated or a slightly less ripe wine. Impressive winemaking that should be encouraged. Encourage winemaker to carry out copper trials.

Ackerman-Rémy Pannier, 49260 Vaudelnay: 2008 AOC Touraine
Modern with good green tom leaf. Herbal. Nice wine. Shows good purity and nice intensity. Slightly dilute on palate and elegant.

Joël Lecoffre, 41150 Rilly-sur-Loire: 2008 Fleur de Lys, AOC Touraine
Clean, bit reduced now, but behind it has good ripe apple fruit and crisp acidity ; sound. If tank sample be sure to do copper trials.

Xavier Frissant, 37530 Mosnes: 2008 Touraine Sauvignon, AOC Touraine
Very sharp acidity, quite austere, mineral citrus quality. Nice flavours and good concentration. A tad closed and fruit lacking but good wine and worthy of ambassador.

Luc Poullain, Domaine des Echardières, 41110 Pouillé: 2008 AOC Touraine
Clean commercial some varietal character and certainly not the most concentrated wine in the lineup. Clean and well made some intensity - OK if commercial price....

Domaine Octavie, 41700 Oisly: 2008 Domaine Octavie, AOC Touraine
Lovely perfumed tomato leaf style. Pure, vibrant, alive. Elegant wine not a show stopper and more intellectual than many and on the cusp of premium. Lovely palate weight and acid in balance that adds to length.

Vignerons des Coteaux Romanais, 41140 Saint-Romain-sur-Cher: 2008 Secrets de Chais par Nicolas Davias AOC Touraine
Borderline. Perhaps a little too green, but good intensity and purity. Clean and on the palate there is some reasonable concentration too. Ambassador but only just.

Vignerons des Coteaux Romanais, 41140 St Romain-sur-Cher: 2008 Tonnerre de Vigne, AOC Touraine
Green apples. Tomatoes leaf. Clean well made and should be encouraged. A few more days on the vine would have helped but good clean technical green style. Citrus notes as well.

SARL V B B L Export, 41110 Châteauvieux: 2008 Violine du Roy, AOC Touraine
Fruit style citrus ripe thiol/pear drop ester notes and some nice herbal notes to balance flavour profile. Nice attack fruit weight, with super acidity. It is just a tad one dimensional for premium and lacking the final degree of concentration solid commercial Sauvignon Blanc.

Earl Domaine Joël Delaunay, 41110 Pouillé: 2008 Domaine Joël Delaunay, AOC Touraine
Citrus, grapefruit, limey character, quite steely, touch thin, but well made and with enough intensity, purity and typicity for selection.

SCA Domaine Chainier, 37530 Chargé: 2008 Château de Pocé, AOC Touraine
Ripe citrus fruit salad; technical style. Intense bouquet. Palate good attack and concentrated for a slightly less ripe wine. Impressive winemaking that should be encouraged. Has some finesse, classy wine.

EARL Guy Mardon, 41700 Oisly: 2008 AOC Touraine
Touch reduced but crisp acidity and sound fruit if a little dull. Well made wine and technical but only just makes cut. Would be better with lower yields and more hang time.

SCEA Château de Fontenay, 37150 Bléré: 2008 Cuve N°9 AOC Touraine
Green apples. Tomato leaf. Clean well made and should be encouraged. A few more days on the vine would have helped but good clean technical citrus and herbal style. Lacking ripeness but a valid expression from the Loire. More intrinsic ripeness would be good next year. Makes the cut but only just.

SCEV Jean-François Merieau, 41400 Saint-Julien-de-Chedon: 2008 L'Arpent des Vaudons AOC Touraine
Clean, ripe apple character with tinned mandarins, quite crisp acidity, citrus with ripe and green notes as well.

GAEC Godet, 41700 Oisly: 2008 Domaine de Marcé AOC Touraine
Good typicity and varietal character, ripe thiols, clean, well-made wine for the U.K. palate.

EARL Domaine de Montigny, 41700 Sassay: 2008 AOC Touraine
Grassy style with underlying body of fruit, good weight and length. Orange grapefruit and citrus.

EARL de la Haute Clemencerie, 41400 Faverolles Sur Cher: 2008 AOC Touraine
Very sweaty, medicinal characters; Intense and extremely modern. Needs to be copper fined before bottling otherwise the wine will be stinky in bottle. Nice wine that divided the panel and caused great discussion but in the end we decided that while it isn’t a traditional style it is a valid style of Sauvignon Blanc that the UK market does like.

There is no doubt that of all the wines that we tasted this generated the most intense debate. Will be fascinating to taste the finished wine.

VDP Val de Loire

SCEA Vignoble Rethore Davy, 49110 Saint-Rémy-en-Mauges: 2008 Loire Collection, VDP Val de Loire
Kiwi-fruit, pea pod, herbal gooseberry, vibrant integrated acidity – very commercial, but well done. Nice fit for the UK market.

Eric Chevalier, 44310 Saint-Philbert-de-Grand: 2008 Fié Gris VDP Val de Loire
The Fié Gris is Sauvignon Rose/Sauvignon Gris.
Intense green fresh modern style, lovely purity, lacks riper notes and perhaps the greeness is too dominant; nice body for 11.7 alcohol. Should be commended perhaps even premium.

Ampelidae, 86380 Marigny-Brizay: 2008 Brochet Pointe de Doux VDP Val de Loire
Fruit salad citrus ester thiol style. Winemaker's wine and has done a good job making this. It is pure and modern aromatically with good tropical fruit intensity. What worries us about this wine is an inherent lack of physiological ripeness as the palate is high acid and lacking weight. On the cusp.

SARL Joël Delaunay, 41110 Pouillé: 2008 TYDY VDP Val de Loire
Grassy, touch dusty and a bit of reduction, but pleasant tomato leaf character, reasonable palate weight

Antoine Simoneau, 41400 Saint-Georges-sur-Cher: 2008 Domaine de la Rabelais, VDP Val de Loire
Tomato leaf, candied fruits, citrus. Elegant style. Well made.

EARL Paquereau, 44190 Clisson: 2008 VDP Val de Loire
Intense herbaceous gooseberry style. Not the panel's favourite wine but it is clean and well made. Sugar may be a little high. Commercial capsicum style and would stand out on a buyers' tasting table. Commercial and well constructed.

Ackerman-Remy Pannier, 49260 Vaudelnay: 2008 VDP Val de Loire
Bouquet intense ripe pear drops and fresh primary fruit including apples and gooseberry. Very modern style aromatically. Palate is pure and linear with no hint of sulphide or reduction. Needs to see a touch of copper if a tank samples. Acidity high and perhaps lacks concentration to carry it, but it is hard to fault with lovely flavours. Food wine. Doesn’t have the concentration or complexity for premium. Strong commercial food Sauvignon Blanc.

SA Bougrier, 41400 Saint-Georges-sur-Cher: 2008 VDP Val de Loire
Good intense ripe gooseberry, capsicum. Wonderful intensity and vivid and defined style. Pure. Commercial flavours with superb weight and acidity. Nice wine. Flavours don’t fit into either ripe or green as quite complex wine with some citrus notes.

Elodie Bessas of Interloire's technical service and the key organiser of the tastings

If any of the producers have websites I have missed – please let me know and send me the details. Sam's notes being added.

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