It is good to be back in the Loire for the first time since late October 2017. The occasion is the second edition of Loire Millésime. The first edition was held at the Abbaye de Fontevraud near Saumur. This year we are much further up the Loire at Blois and amongst the assembled journalists – some 70 from around the world – I have been joined by fellow Les Cinqs – Hervé and Marc, so 60% of us are present here.
Unlike last year there is no threat of frost the days are hot and the nights are much milder – well above freezing. In contrast last year the days were wonderfully bright but the temperature plummeted at night giving the producers a series of frosts to fight.
We started this three and a half days of tasting on Sunday evening with a look at Chenin Blanc along the same format as last year at the Domaine de Rocheville in the commune of Parnay. The tasting included some of the Loire’s best exponents of Chenin Blanc in its diverse facets.
Producers present at the event included Claude Papin, Jérôme Billard, Francis Jourdan, Jean-Max Manceau, Olivier Lecomte, Ludovic and Joël Gigou, Philippe Porché, Patrick Baudouin, Tessa Laroche, Julien Fournier, Xavier Frissant, Nicolas Paget, Marielle Henrion, Alexandre Monmousseau, Vincent Lebreton and Alexandre Cady, There were many exciting and diverse wines to taste.
Monday has been given over to tasting the 2017 vintage from wines that were entered in the 2018 Concours de Vins Val de Loire, This doubtless is a good way to encourage producers to enter the competition and is admirably democratic but it does mean the wines from some of the best and most famous Loire producers are not in the tasting. It is a given for all wine competitions that many of the top producers do not enter them. After all they may well have more to lose than gain and furthermore they rarely need the publicity as their established renown sells their wines. However, this format does give me the chance to discover good producers that I don’t already know.
Monday’s tasting confirmed that despite the April frost 2017 completes a quartet of good vintages in the Loire with successes in both the dry whites and the reds.
Some favourites from 2017:
2017 Pavillon, Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu sur Lie,
Domaine du Bourg, Hervé et Nicolas Choblet
– elegant and with real character
2017 Grolleau IGT Val de Loire, Michel Robineau
Fine example of why Grolleau can be an excellent quaffing wine
Côt Garnon, Touraine, La Chapinière
This promising 2017 underlines that Côt (Malbec)
is very well suited to the Cher Valley.
Also that La Chapinière is a consistently good producer
Barrel-aged Cuvée Anais Touraine Mesland, Domaine de Rabelais
Good concentration and structure