Pierre Jacques Druet Bourgueil Le Grand Mont 1996
A few months ago I revealed in my blog post, entitled Montlouis Syndicat to Leave InterLoire?, that Montlouis and regional body InterLoire were set to go their different ways. The president of the Montlouis syndicat François Chidaine had made it plain that he was thoroughly disillusioned with the activities, aims and financing of the regional body; that much was clear when he resigned from the InterLoire executive committee a year ago. This week the news has been confirmed, as described by Jane Anson in a recent Decanter article, which means that Montlouis now joins Bourgueil outside the InterLoire 'circle'.
Bourgueil and InterLoire parted company in 2009, a move which Philippe Pitault, then president of the Bourgueil syndicat, blamed on InterLoire's generic approach. Now more than three years on, Chidaine's complaints seem to have worrying parallels with those made by Pitault. InterLoire is changing, says president Jean-Martin Dutour, but is it changing quickly enough? Will other appellations follow the lead of Bourgueil and Montlouis? I suspect not, and I hope not too. For although there is a very positive side to the departure of Montlouis, in that it reflects a renaissance within this once-forgotten appellation, and can be taken as a sign of the energy, enthusiasm and new-found confidence that exists within it, if everybody were to follow suit InterLoire would collapse. Which would mean no Salon des Vins des Loire. Which, I believe, would be a disaster for the region.
As for Montlouis, what does the future hold? Well, I think we should be optimistic. I wasn't filled with confidence for Bourgueil when Pitault broke ranks, as I think outside of Loire-geek circles the appellation is practically unknown, overshadowed by its more famous neighbour, Chinon. Nevertheless, as I wrote in an email to Jane Anson when we discussed these developments prior to the above-linked article being published, I have heard more from Bourgueil in the past three years than I have in the previous thirty. So they do seem to have grasped the marketing nettle, and made it work. I wish them, as well as François Chidaine and the vignerons of Montlouis, continued success. And in their honour, this weekend's drinking included this older wine from one of Bourgueil's stalwarts, Pierre-Jacques Druet.
The wine in question is the Bourgueil Le Mont, from the 1996 vintage. A bottle of this a year or two ago was not so convincing; this one, however, seems to be in a somewhat better place. It has a fading intensity of pigments, but still has some vibrancy and plenty of red tones to its hue. The nose is interesting, at first showing a little mushroom, then crisp red fruits with a perfumed floral presence as well as a little capsicum. These brighter elements soon fade though, leaving that little mushroom note along with hints of tobacco, smoke and sweet leather, although it is all very subtle. The palate is cool and refined at the start, quite elegant and with a hint of silk to it, but through the middle it shows a more substantial body and a little tannic grip. The finish fades, leaving a warm finish. Some of the aromas and texture that bothered me last time can still be seen here, but they feel much more harmonious and subtle, with evolving maturity to add contrast and elegance. An attractive wine. 15.5/20 (14/1/13)