I spent the final day of the Salon des Vins de Loire in a mad dash, keen to catch up with the work at some well-known and familiar estates, but also wanting to take a slightly more detailed look at the wines of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Well, I suppose “detailed” isn’t quite the right word; but I did manage to get around some old and significant names, such as Vacheron and Henri Bourgeois, as well as making some new discoveries.
First though, there was some catching up to do with Muscadet and Chinon, with visits to Luneau-Papin, who were showing a massive range of wines as always, with vintages right back to the 18th century. OK, perhaps not, but they always have some mature wines up for tasting, most notably L d’Or back into the 1990s (last year we were treated with the 1989 and the 1976, the first ever vintage of L d’Or) and Excelsior (back to 2002). I learnt that this year should see four more Muscadet crus ratified, to join the three already in existence, so I will bring more news on this to Winedoctor as soon as I hear anything.
I also popped in on Rémi Branger at Domaine de la Pépière, where the wines are good although even here they have struggled in 2011, as have some other top names. Look beyond this vintage though to 2012; the wines are super. Low yields, thanks to a huge array of meteorological insults, but high quality. Not just here, but also at Jo Landron, who also had difficulties in 2011. My tasting notes updates will provide more detail.
A quick detour into Chinon was called for before Sancerre, with a tasting at Domaine Bernard Baudry. It is Matthieu, Bernard’s son, who has been in charge here for a few years now, but Bernard is usually not far away at the Salon and I caught this picture of him below. The tasting, which included a mix of wines from 2012 and 2011, showed that neither vintage is particular great for the appellation, mirroring a feeling I had about 2011 after tasting with Philppe Alliet (or rather his son, Matthieu’s counterpart I suppose).
Then onto Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, where I made two great new discoveries. I’ll be writing on both in full profiles as soon as possible; if you have to know, the names are secreted in my list below.
This year’s Salon has to have been, for me personally, one of the busiest ever. I tasted long and hard on Saturday and Sunday, at the Renaissance and Dive Bouteille shin-digs, followed by three long days at the Fair itself. In previous years I have had the feeling that I learnt little on the last day, usually having to leave by midday, but I made the most of it this year, as I was able to hang on until 3pm thanks to TGV putting on a later train back to Charles de Gaulle airport. I haven’t totted up how many new profiles, updates and similar are on the way, but off the top of my head domaines set to be profiled on Winedoctor this year for the first time include Marc Pesnot, Günther-Chéreau (both Nantais), Loïc Mahé, Toby Bainbridge, Domaine du Collier (Anjou & Saumur), Sebastien Brunet, Matthieu Cosme, Michel Autran (Touraine – all Vouvray in fact), Domaine Gilbert, Pierre Martin, Bertrand Minchin and Jonathon Didier Pabiot (Central Vineyards). Plus probably a few others I have overlooked right now. That’s not to mention all the domaine updates, the latest from Huet, Chidaine, Luneau-Papin, Bellivière, Jo Landron, Vacheron, Jacky Blot, Château de L’Aulée, Domaine des Forges, Pierre-Bise, Domaine de la Bergerie, Vincent Ogereau, Noëlla Morantin, Domaine des Aubuisières and plenty of others. There is also my Saumur-Champigny investigation of course, within which I will get to grips with the good, the bad and the ugly;. I even tasted wines from the Auvergne, France’s lost wine region, now part of the Loire it seems by virtue of its presence on the headwaters (or thereabouts – I need to check on a map!). And as an aside, I even caught up with the latest vintages from Gombaude-Guillot, in Pomerol, who were at the Renaissance tasting. And of course there is a detailed report on the 2012 Loire vintage coming, with a region-by-region run-down of the climate and the wines.
Having said that I was busy, however, the Salon was not. The official press release from InterLoire vis their PR agency Claire de Lune was that this year’s Fair had returned to “normal service”, with visitors 15-20% up on last year. The 2012 was blighted by (a) a change in dates and (b) very bad weather.Despite this, however, it felt quieter than usual to me, and I’m surprised the figures are so elevated. In addition, what the release doesn’t mention is that the Fair was considerably smaller this year, with approximately 100 fewer producers present. Notable absentees included Eric Morgat, for instance. This is a decline that needs to be nipped in the bud if this Salon is to continue to thrive and be useful.