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Salon & Renaissance Tastings – Day 1

Monday morning sees me kicking off my third day of tasting in Angers, at this year’s Renaissance and Salon events. I’ve been here since Saturday, having arrived in Angers shortly after midday, and I’ve had a tasting glass in my hand almost without break since then.

First up was the Renaissance tasting, faeaturing biodynamic producers from across France, with a heavy focus on the Loire. This is always a good opportunity to catch up with a few names that don’t attend the Salon, such as Richard Leroy (sporting a beard again – obviously trying to blend in with the ‘natural wine’ crowd), Catherine and Didier of Clos Roche Blanche, Marc Angeli, Eric Nicolas of Domaine de la Bellivière and many more. With so many Loire delights on hand I have never strayed to look at other regions, despite the presence of other top domaines such as Zind-Humbrecht, JosMeyer and so on, although I did break my unwritten ‘Loire-only’ rule this year to taste four vintages from Chateau Gombaude-Guillot, a Pomerol estate. It was my first experience of this property, and it was an unusual one in that of the four vintages on show it was the 2007 I liked best.

Yesterday I would normally spend a second day at the Renaissance tasting, or strike out to visit a couple of domaines, as I did last year with Chateau de la Roulerie and Domaine de Montgilet. But this year the Salon starts on Sunday (a stupid decision in my opinion – there is already too much to do on this weekend as it already clashes with La DIve Bouteille, another very popular tasting) and so I spent all of sunday, 9am until past 7pm, tasting at the Angers Expo. It was a day for Vouvray yesterday, with wines from Huet, François Chidaine (something of a marathon – close to 40 wines), Champalou, Aubuisières, Vincent Carême), as well as Montlouis (Chidaine again, Frantz Saumon) but I did pay one or two other domaines a visit, notably Pierre-Bise and Vincent Ogereau from Anjou, and from Chinon Bernard Baudry.

Bernard always has a prominent position, right on the corner as you enter the main hall, and this meant he was my first port of call. Well, almost first – my true first port of call were a little late attending their stand, and so I backtracked to Bernard to taste his 2009s and 2010s. Although the news here means that I should not refer to the wines as Bernard’s perhaps. Although his son Mathieu (above right) has been involved running the property for some years now, 2010 marks his full retirement, and Mathieu now has 100% responsibility for making the wines. And the 2010s taste very good; I suspect this is one domaine that is in safe hands.

I won’t give too many more details of my favourite wines away, as I want to draw up a list of my top ten for publication later this week, but suffice to say that Sunday’s most notable delights were found with the two Vincents, Carême and Ogereau.

Today? A focus on Savennières, but other bits and pieces from elsewhere, including Saumur and Montlouis, as I progress I think. Variety is the spice of life after all.

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