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At long last we have published Richard's and my tasting notes from a showcase of new finds chez The Wine Society, the British wine-buying co-operative which really does seem to put wine quality above all else. I didn't love absolutely everything I tasted but virtually all the wines showed real individuality. Richard and I found quite a few wines we thought merited a GV for good value and even VGV for very good value.
I tasted Frédéric Mabileau, Les Rouillères Chenin Blanc 2011 Anjou and thought that at £10.95 it was definitely GV. I gave it a score of 17 out of 20 and would love to drink it any time over the next four years. My tasting note:
Lovely pure, fresh, appley aromas. Lots of tension and terroir. Finishes dry. This wine has just so much energy and typicity. Great stuff. Whistle clean. GV 13%
£10.95 The Wine Society [though I see it is now £11.50 - grrr]
I am acutely aware that the Loire is the most brilliant hunting ground for lovers of French wine at the moment - a fact remarked on in our Members' forum more and more. Untouched by the sort of wine investors and wine collectors who have pushed prices in Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône up so dramatically, the Loire can offer a much wider range of styles, flavours, grapes and terroirs than any of those three more famous wine regions - and its best wines have that most prized quality: freshness. For many years that too often translated into skinniness and tartness, but the combination of warmer summers and much-improved viticultural techniques has resulted in arguably an even more marked increase in quality than elsewhere.
This dry Chenin is quite delicious. It's made from very young vines planted on Frédéric's home Rouillères plot (I think 2009 was the first vintage of this 'pure indulgence' as it is called on the Mabileau website) and yields are still tiny, only about 11 hl/ha. I am rather embarrassed in a way to see that I am certainly not introducing a new producer to you. Julia chose his red St-Nicolas de Bourgueil 2010 as her wine of the week last August when I was hunched over our Wine Grapes manuscript, so young Frédéric is clearly a consistent over-performer. He began to adopt organic techniques (not necessarily an easy option this far north) as early as 2003 when he took over this small family domaine.
I'd drink this both as an aperitif and with food such as fish, chicken, even some cheeses. And I'm delighted to see that it is also available in the Netherlands.