le tasting room

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

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Domaine des Rochelles Vintage update

We popped in to Domaine de Rochelles for a tasting yesterday with clients and had an excellent tasting. We like the wines and Jean-Yves Lebreton was on particularly good form.

Talking about this year's vintage, he said that they have brought in the Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Grolleau for sparkling so far. Before calling at the winery, we drove down to the Croix de Mission vineyard which is a specific parcel in the Anjou-Villages-Brissac appellation. This vineyard is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and is looking fantastic. We have seen a lot of rot around this year, particularly with the Chenins but these grapes are looking in tip-top condition with not a sign of rot anywhere.

A little bit of terroir - part of what makes this plot so special.

Super healthy Cabernet Sauvignon grapes with no rot.

The bloom on the outside of the grapes, unblemished and downy.

Bunches are nicely aerated.

Jean-Yves is very happy with the condition of the grapes. He says that they are reaching full maturity and that the pips are starting to turn brown, a sign that physiological maturity is on its way, accompanied by a marked reduction in unwanted herbaceous flavours. Many locally have already started picking but the weather forecast for the next couple of weeks is good so he is confident that he can bring the grapes in fully ripe with a decent potential alcohol. As yields from the Croix de Mission are small (around 35hl/ha), this is feasible.

We discussed the situation in Bourgueil briefly. He was there a couple of days ago and says that the situation there is not so bright. Grapes on the sand and gravel flats have all been harvested because recent weather conditions have left a lot of standing water on the vineyards and that in turn has produced a huge problem with rot. We spoke to Pierre-Jacques Druet 2 days ago and he confirmed that it has been a big problem this year although he had only just harvested his grapes from the sand and gravel whereas many did so more that a week earlier in the rain. We are seeing him on Tuesday so will give a fuller report after our meeting with him.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Chateau de Parnay & Chateau Princé Vintage 2011 Update

Popped in to Chateau Princé in Anjou for a quick vintage update when passing today. This year's harvest started 10 days ago starting with the Chardonnay for the Crémant. The Grolleau (again for Crémant) was next to come in followed by a first 'tri' through the Chenin vineyards for the Aubance. Last week finished with bringing in the Cabernet Franc in Anjou destined for la mousse - it had a potential of 11.5.

In Anjou the berries are looking in pretty good condition - the Cab Franc currently has a potential of 12, bunches are in good shape and there is little or no rot. The Chenin in also in good condition with a little rot in certain parcels and nearly none in others.

All wines from both Parnay and Chateau Princé will now be vinified at their brand new winemaking facility in Parnay. Work on the proposed 5* hotel is due to start over the winter months.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Vintage Update 2011 - Chateau d'Epiré

A visit to Chateau d'Epiré in Epiré, Savennières and Domaine Cady in St Aubin de Luigne showed us what a difficult year this is proving to be for Chenin Blanc. Luc Bizard walked around his vineyards with us and gave us an update. The Hu Boyau vineyard was harvested on September 2nd. Recent weather conditions forced them to sweep through and pick all the fruit in one pass. Other parcels such as that for the Cuvée Speciale remain on the vine athough they have passed through and cleaned up the rot that has set in due to the recent wet weather.

These grapes are looking pretty healthy, the vines have been opened up and leaf stripped to ensure plenty of air is drying up any excess moisture.

Lovely views from Savennières look over towards La Corniche Angevine and the vineyards of the Coteaux du Layon.

More healthy grapes from the same parcel which overlooks La Coulée de Serrant.
Grapes from a neighbouring plot owned by Chateau de Chamboureau.

We tasted the 2009s in the chai - interesting to note the differences between the Reserve du Maitre de Chai which has been aged in Acacia and has not been through malo, the Cuvée Speciale that has been aged in old chestnut and the Hu Boyau that has spent time in new oak. The wines have a lovely grapfruit mineral edge and plenty of obvious ageing potential. The acidity of the wine that has not been through malo is noticeably higher.

Luc anticipates passing through the remaining parcels in about a week's time. Meanwhile he was busy oxygenating his already fermenting wine from Hu Boyau in the winery.

Update from Cady to follow.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Langlois Chateau - Saumur

Langlois Chateau is the smallest of the big sparkling wine producers based in Saumur with production of around 1 million bottles per year. You don't need us to take you there (although we are more than happy to do so and if you don't have a car then you might just need us). Give them a call yourself and call in for what is certainly one of the best visits around. For just 2€ per person you will get a quick 20 minute lesson in the classroom, a trip around the cellars and a comprehensive wine tasting including the sparkling wines for which they are reputed as well as a range of still wines produced from vines they own in other appellations along the Loire valley from Nantes to Sancerre.

View from the winery courtyard looking across to the chateau of Saumur. Don't expect to find a chateau here, the name comes from the marriage of Monsieur Langlois to a young lady called Chateau hence the name Langlois Chateau!

After the second fermentation in bottle and ageing 'sur lattes', the next stage in the production of 'methode traditionelle' sparkling wines is to slowly move the sediment in the bottle down in to the neck.

Traditionally this was done by hand but these days large gyropalletes are used that do the job more quickly and efficiently. Premium products such as Langlois' top cuvée Quadrille, are still done by hand.

On this occasion our tour was led by Pierre who joined the company 6 months ago having completed a 4 year degree in international trade one of which was spent in Manchester. He speaks excellent English and clearly comes from the Michel Launay school of tour guides as he too is full of funny anecdotes, good humour and expertise keeping us amused and entertained for nearly 2 hours.

And, we like the wines, so all in all a good experience. Langlois Chateau manages to keep it personal. You feel like you are in a living, working environment and are likely to see some real action during harvest if you call in. We had a word with the winemaker who mentioned that the grapes are of average quality this year - time will tell - the rain keeps falling.

Langlois Chateau
3 rue Leopold Palustre
St Hilaire St Florent
49400 Saumur
Tel 00 33 (0)2 41 40 21 40

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Vintage 2011 update - Chateau de Villeneuve

Chateau de Villeneuve is due to start bringing in the Chenin Blanc this Tuesday and the Cabernet Franc will follow on the 19th September. These photos were taken yesterday in the vineyard surrounding the chateau. The Cabernet Franc looks very healthy with little noticeable rot but the Chenin is less consistent. Heavy downpours all this morning in Saumur Champigny will frustrate growers further as they approach harvest.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Vintage 2011 Update from Lionel Gosseaume - Domaine de Pierre

Quick update from Lionel Gosseaume of Domaine de Pierre in Touraine. We have been showing his wines to clients this season and they have proved a big hit. A young winemaker based in Choussy Lionel rents 9 hectares of vines locally and shares winery space with his brother and father. He started making wine in 2007.

'Les vignes vont très bien, merci ! Nous avons attaqué les vendanges samedi dernier avec les sauvignons qui seront terminés, pour moi, demain. C’est une vendanges qui ce sera concentrée sur quelques jours, très particulière. Je rentre des raisins de toute beauté. Je n’ai jamais vendangé de tels raisins depuis que je suis vigneron. J’espère que ça suivra derrière pour les vins ! je vais certainement ramasser mes gamays début de semaine prochaine. pour le moment, ils sont beaux eux aussi, pas de pourriture.'

The vines are very well thanks! We started harvest last Saturday with the Sauvignons which will be finished for me tomorrow. It's a vintage that will be concentrated around a few days, very unusual. I'm bringing in grapes that are of excellent quality - I've never harvested grapes like this since I became a vigneron. I hope that the wines will continue in the same vein! I'll certainly be harvesting my Gamays at the the beginning of next week - for the moment they are in great condition too with no rot.