Older Loires

Tasted Sunday, September 30, 2012 by MikeATL with 254 views

Introduction

Every few years, I subject one of my tasting groups to a tasting of older Loire wines. Most of them drink few wines from the region, but generally present at least the illusion of enthusiasm for tasting some different wines than those they are accustomed to. Between a couple of corked bottles and a few others that didn't show as well as I'd hoped, it wasn't perfect, but it still worked out pretty well.

Flight 1 (2 Notes)

  • 2000 Domaine de la Pépière (Marc Ollivier) Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie Vieilles Vignes Clos des Briords

    France, Loire Valley, Pays Nantais, Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine

    Light gold color and the honey and preserved lemon additions to the expected saline and mineral elements show right away that it isn't a baby any more. There is still enough fruit to balance the acidity, but it doesn't pop with the vibrancy of a recent bottle of the '97. A good, but not great example of an aged Muscadet, this bottle suggests that it might be time to start drinking these up.

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  • 1999 Thomas-Labaille Sancerre Chavignol Cuvee Buster Les Monts Damnés

    France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Sancerre

    A ray of sunshine on a dreary, rainy night, there is some gold color, but it still looks shiny and inviting. I can't help but smile as I pick up ripe Crenshaw-y melon, drizzled with just a hint of pale honey, a pleasant minerality and a little tartness keep the fruit from getting out of hand, and a kiss of honey lingers on the finish. It hasn't grown old, it just picked up some new ways to have fun, and I suspect it still has at least a few more delightful years left in it.

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Flight 2 (2 Notes)

  • 1997 Château Pierre-Bise Anjou Le Haut de la Garde

    France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Anjou

    A happy, slobbering golden retreiver of a Chenin, there is nothing subtle or elegant about this wine. It seems off-dry, and I don't remember it showing this much apparent residual sugar. It starts out a little cloying and tiresome, until some soursop flavors come out with air to create a pleasant contrast to the honeyed lanoline and hints of chalk that first dominated it. I wouldn't want to drink this frequently, but it isn't a bad change of pace.

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  • 1996 Domaine du Closel-Château des Vaults Savennières Cuvée Spéciale Clos du Papillon

    France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Savennières

    A little oxidized, but not excessively so, it is decent but not inspiring, in part from a little peppermint on the nose and pleasant acidity and minerality. Still, it hasn't aged gracefully, and fails to fulfill the promise of its youth. I don't think Kane was still at Garnet when I bought this, but I'm sure it's his fault that I did.

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Flight 3 (2 Notes)

  • 1996 Foreau Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Demi-Sec

    France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray

    Fairly dark color, which as in this case, often means nothing with non-dry Chenin. It is sort of like a glass of rich, caramelized apples, but has enough acidity and minerality to keep it balanced, and still has plenty of life left in it.

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  • 1996 Denis Touraine-Azay-le-Rideau Demi-Sec

    France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Touraine-Azay-le-Rideau

    Completely different from the Foreau in almost every way, starting with the pale gold color (though still showing more signs of age than the '89 sec tasted recently). Where the Foreau is rich and spicy, this is graceful and elegant, like honeysuckle nectar balanced by a spritz of fresh lemon. Most of the group preferred the more obvious charms of the Foreau, but I find the delicacy of the Denis far more seductive.

    I had about 1/5th of the bottle left, and after almost 3 weeks in the fridge, it was still delicious. The wines may not last forever, but I can't foresee them going over the hill during my lifetime.

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Flight 4 (3 Notes)

Flight 5 (2 Notes)

Flight 6 (2 Notes)

  • 1997 Château Pierre-Bise Coteaux du Layon Rochefort-sur-Loire Les Rayelles

    France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Coteaux du Layon Rochefort-sur-Loire

    Dark color, but not at all fading, it punches you in the face with intense, sweet salted caramel, which is just kept in check by a solid core of acidity and a bit of dried tangerine peel that comes out with air. I think it was a little darker and not quite as nuanced as a recent Rouannieres, but was still very enjoyable.

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  • 1996 Château de Fesles Bonnezeaux

    France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Bonnezeaux

    A little caramelly with a hint of apricot, it isn't quite as sweet as the Pierre-Bise, but it lacks the acidity and complexity it needs to keep it from crossing the line from rich into cloying. It isn't a bad wine, it's just kind of boring. I think it will hold at this uninspiring plateau for a good while yet, but doubt it will get more interesting.

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