le tasting room

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

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Crémant de Loire from Closel Chateau des Vaults in Savennières

We tasted the sparkling wine from Closel Chateau des Vaults in Savennières last weekend. Known for its high quality dry Savennières this marks a bit of a departure but we liked it very much. It has a real Savennières quality on the nose, quite perfumed and citrussy with a backbone of toastiness that comes from prolonged ageing on the lees.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Flowering in the Loire valley

It's May 21st 2011 and the vines have burst into flower in Anjou and all around the Loire valley. About a month ahead of 2010, this is the earliest recorded flowering since 1893 according to local experts. It's turning out to be a very dry year, not only for the vineyards but also for local farmers who are struggling to keep fruit and vegetables going because of the lack of water. Vines are pretty resistant to water stress but can shut down and cease to develop if the situation becomes very severe.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Domaine de Nerleux Portes Ouvertes

Domaine de Nerleux had a portes ouvertes over the weekend. Although we have tasted their wines from time to time at the Salon and out and about, this was the first time we have visited the domaine.

The domaine (owned by Amélie and Régis Neau) dates back 5 centuries making them the 8th generation to live in the beautiful 17th century mansion. Quite a large estate, it comprises 45 hectares of Cabernet Franc, 38 hectares of Chenin and just 1 hectare of Chardonnay.

Wild flowers are grown between the rows to encourage wildlife, preserve soil balance and support sustainable agriculture.

Les Loups Noirs (Nerleux means Black Wolves in old French)

Beautiful peony in the garden

Les Nerleux - Saumur Champigny - the lightest cuvée

In the cellar

The large pipe seen on the roof fed grapes directly down into the old press in the past

This was the entrance for the grapes above ground (now blocked up for safety reasons)

Saumur Blanc Les Nerleux 2010
Clean crisp, light fresh fruit on the nose. A little grapefruit and minerality on the palate. Acidity not too marked. A typical Chenin from this appellation. Good at the price (5,20)

Saumur Blanc Les Loups Blancs 2010
Another Chenin, this time vinified in oak and using much riper grapes. Tight as a drum on the nose, giving nothing away probably due to the fact that it was only bottled a few days ago. Nice citrus quality comes through on the palate, a hint of tannin and softer . Oak does not dominate despite having spent 6 months in barrique (1-4 years old). Quite long - good but very closed at present. (10,00)

Cabernet de Saumur 2010 Rosé
100% Cabernet Franc grapes - directly pressed. Quite full bodied on the palate with good summer fruit quality that remains restrained and classy not too tropical. Quite a dry finish on the palate. Good summer drinking. (5,20)

Saumur Champigny Les Nerleux 2009
Quite purpley at rim, aromas of black fruits, chocolate and coffee. Soft and round on the palate, some tannin present on the finish but relatively easy drinking. Maybe a little short and final impression is one of tannin. Bit more time? (6,00)

Saumur Champigny Les Nerleux 2010
Very rich colour. A slightly savoury note on the nose with black fruits and a teensy whiff of boardmarker. Tannins present but not too chewy, mid weight. (6,00)

Saumur Champigny Clos des Chatains 2009
Lovely ripe fruit on the nose, Some raspberry and blackberry. Juicy fruit on the palate. Great concentration and ripe tannins. Good (7,50)

Saumur Champigny Clos des Chatains 2008
Less forest fruit on the nose and more damson type aromas, stone fruits. Quite a lot softer on the palate than the 09 and a reasonable finish. Less concentrated than the 09. (8,00)

Saumur Champigny Clos des Chatains 2007
Ruby garnet colour. Real red fruits on the nose and a savoury quality that we both like very much. Quite light on the palate (as are many 07's) but nicely balanced and with tannins that don't dominate the finish. Very nice and proves once again that some of the 07's are drinking well now despite the difficulties of the vintage. (8,50)

Saumur Champigny Clos des Chatains 2006
Surprisingly closed on the nose. I got a hint of violets and maybe a touch of volatility. Quite a bit of tannin on the palate that dominates the fruit which recedes into the background. A little bitter on the finish - our least favourite vintage.

Saumur Champigny Les Loups Noirs 2009
The top of the range having spent 1 year in barrique. Rich dense colour - wood not particulary evident on the nose but comes through straight away on the palate. A big wine with masculine flavours of coffee, plums and black fruits. Loads of tannin on the finish. Full of concentration and with good potential - needs more time.

Saumur Champigny Les Loups Noir 2008
Blackberries and a hint of plum, a touch spirity, sweet vanilla wood aromas and flavours coming through on the palate. A definite food wine.

To summarise - we found all the wines good although our personal choice would be the Clos des Chatains 07 and 09. Very different in style but equally good. The Loups Noir reds are very chunky and need time as does the white which need time to settle after bottling. The entry level Saumur Blanc is good and the rose is great summer drinking.

Domaine de Nerleux
4 rue de la Paleine
49260 St-Cyr-en-Bourg

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Hail damages 100 ha in Anjou around Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay

Bad news for producers around Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay. Initial figures from the professionals estimate that around 100 hectares of vignes were damaged on Monday 2nd May by what was a particularly strong downpour on the Anjou vineyards. The cloud was very localised and dropped impressive quantities of hailstones along a west-east axis from La Jumelliere as far as Beaulieu-sur-Layon passing by Chaudefonds-sur-Layon and Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay. Sporadic downpours were also signalled in Savennières, Saint-Macaire-du-Bois and La Varenne.

Unfortunately for Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay, 70 of the affected hectares were within this one commune.

I don't have an up to date picture of the damage to vineyards but this is the kind of damage that hail can do to a vineyard (this was in Alsace after a localised hailstorm in June 2007).

Tony Rousseau (responsable communal de la Fédération viticole) said '18 growers out of the 45 in the commune have been affected'. In certain areas hailstones fell to a depth of 70mm whereas in others only a few mm were recorded. The degee of damage was random and dependent upon grape variety. 'Grolleau is much more sensitive than the Cabernet. Certain parcels will lose 20% of their harvest but, for others, it may go as far as 70%. For certain growers the losses could go even further than that'.

Those affected will know the extent of the damage soon. Flowering (which generally happens between the 17th and 25th June) is expected to begin around the 17th May, a full month ahead, the consequence of a particulary dry and hot Spring.

This report was taken from today's Courrier de l'Ouest.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Loire valley wine day tours from Paris

If you're staying in Paris and fancy a day out in the countryside learning all about Loire valley wines in the company of like-minded people, we'd love to welcome you here.