Dom de la Butte, Le Haut de la Butte 2016 Bourgueil


From €16, £21.60, $24.65, 199 Danish krone 

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Can't afford 2016 red burgundy? Disillusioned with cru classé bordeaux? Then read on, weary traveller! 

For many reasons, this Bourgueil is the antidote to over-hyped and over-priced French reds. It provides not just sheer deliciousness but also the sweetest sense of satisfaction in finding a wine that delivers what is usually promised only by far grander names. At just over £20 per bottle, this is a very good buy compared with its more highfalutin' countrymen and furthermore it is bang on-trend in terms of style and variety.

Its creator is Jacky Blot, best known for his range of highly rated Chenin Blancs from Domaine de la Taille aux Loups in Montlouis and Vouvray. In 2002, he acquired the Domaine de la Butte in Bourgueil, where Cabernet Franc is the soupe du jour. His approach to production is described as burgundian, according to UK importer Charles Sydney Wines, 'separating the plots by geological strata as they go up the hill, effectively creating his own cru system as he picks, ferments and matures each cuvée according to its position on the slope and the age of the vines'.

The results, however, are much more bordelais in flavour. I scored the 2016 vintage of this wine 17 out of 20 and described it as follows: 

Fantastic nose with all the vivid red fruit of the Loire, but much of the sophistication of Bordeaux, with a varnish and earthy note which may be a touch of VA or even brett, but works so nicely in the mix! Furry tannic grip with mouthwatering acid and medium body with loads of clarity to the fruit, right through to the finish. A claret-killer?

But really, this wine deserves better than formulaic comparison with its more famous brethren. As a Loire Cabernet Franc, it has a style all of its own, with crunchy, thirst-quenching red fruit of the kind that is very trendy right now, tannin that is forthright yet rendered drinkable thanks to high acidity, and the sort of earthy flavours that are often associated with wines of terroir. 

For all those qualities, I love this wine in its own right. Searching through our site, I see that previous vintages of this wine were by complete coincidence made a wine of the week almost exactly a year ago and Jacky Blot's Chenin in Montlouis, a 2013 wine of the week and a 2011 wine of the week, which I would argue is a vindicating endorsement. This 2016 red is available now via Lay & Wheeler and Justerini & Brooks in the UK, via several retailers across France and at least one merchant in New York state. Buy it now, and outsmart the masses.

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