le tasting room

Loire wine tours, tastings, day trips from Paris & short breaks organised by experienced English wine trade professionals.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

A couple of winning wines from the Lebretons.

We've enjoyed a couple of delicious wines over the past couple of nights that come from the various Lebreton estates in St Jean des Mauvrets and Juigne sur Loire.

The night before last we returned from Tours having braved a quick dash around Ikea for essentials (candles, water glasses, paper napkins) and picked up friends from the airport. It was a long day and we popped into the supermarket to buy a ready roasted chicken, some new potatoes and salad for a quick supper on our return. To the wine - we opened a bottle of Domaine de Mongilet's Les Yvonnais 2002.

What a delight. Soft perfumed Cabernet Franc fruit with smoky notes on the nose, smooth and fruity on the palate, quite light but with some tannin remaining. The perfect choice to lift what was an ordinary supper. If this is what appellation Anjou Villages Brissac is like after a few years ageing then I'm all for it.

Anjou Villages Brissac is a newish appellation created in the 90's for so-called 'vins de garde', wines that require ageing to show their full potential. Only vineyards from around a dozen individually selected sites are entitled to use it and wines must not be bottled until September 1st following the year of harvest. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are both permitted so allowing a variety of different styles being made by individual producers. We like Jacques Beaujeau's version - 100% Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - powerful and perfumed with a real concentration, drinkable now because of the great fruit but will be better in a few years time. We also like Christophe Daviau's Rocca Nigra and Terra Alba both of which have amazing structure but are very tannic at present (we have the 05) - give them another 5 years or so and they will be softer and more ready.

Back to Montgilet's Les Yvonnais - the vignes have an average of 49 years old and come from a parcel planted on decomposed schist with a clay layer on top. No commercial yeast is added and as soon as the alcoholic fermentation is complete, the wine is moved into barriques to undergo its malo lactic fermentation where it stays until bottling 12 months later. Barriques of 1, 2 and 3 wines are used as Montgilet is not looking to extract tannins from the wood but rather to impart a richness of flavour to the wine. It's delicious and for us resembles the elegant wines that we have come to enjoy from Pierre-Jacques Druet in Bourgueil. Ready to drink now, it costs 10.50 Euros cellar door.

Last night we enjoyed a family meal together and I cooked a seafood risotto. I pre-cooked the mussels and retained the liquor, shelled king prawns and made a stock with the shells, cut salmon into large dice. I fried a finely chopped onion in butter, added the arborio rice, deglazed the pan with a glass of Noilly Prat and then used the stock I had made earlier. At the end I slipped the mussels and prawns back in, added a smidgeon of cream, some chopped tarragon and lastly stirred in the raw salmon, turned off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes before eating.

To go with this, we choose the lovely, crisp Domaine des Rochelles, Roches de Rochelles 2008.

100% Chenin Blanc, the wine has a real purity of fruit with a strong mineral edge. Vines are around 30 years old and are manually harvested (a small proportion being affected by botrytis). After a 12 hour maceration on the skins, the juice is fermented and the wine then aged for 12 months in 400L oak barrels that are 3 years old. Grapefruit and citrus with a touch of lemon verbena and refreshing acidity made it the perfect match with the seafood. Around 8 Euros cellar door.