6 May 2021 We're republishing this tasting article free in honour of International Sauvignon Blanc Day tomorrow.
19 January 2021 The first part of a substantial series on wines of the Loire (see this guide). See also what Tam wanted to eat when tasting these wines. The photograph above, supplied by InterLoire, is of the famous Ch de Chenonceau.
The highly efficient organisational power behind my Languedoc marathon tasting last year was Victoria Kukla of Sopexa. During the flurry of emails about that tasting, Victoria mentioned that she also worked with Loire Valley Wines. My ears pricked up. Lockdown had scuppered a trip to the Loire that I was supposed to have made last May. Perhaps, I suggested to her, the Loire could come to me instead? She swung into action and, in addition to this one, I will be sharing similarly detailed reports on the Loire's reds, rosés, Muscadets, Chenins and other white varieties, as well as a small selection of sparkling and sweet wines.
Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé arguably produce the Loire's best-known white wines, and they certainly produce its most famous Sauvignon Blanc. Touraine, on the other hand, is generally seen as the cheap alternative, quality reflected in the price. This tasting of 60 Loire Sauvignons, of which 34 were Touraines (the rest a pick'n'mix of IGP, Coteaux du Giennois, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Quincy, Menetou-Salon and Haut-Poitou) was a salient reminder that in the 21st century we dismiss 'lesser' appellations at our peril. There were some superb Touraines. Look out, too, for Fié Gris (Sauvignon Gris) – Eric Chevalier is making magic with his humble-sounding IGP Val de Loire.
In particular, I was expecting a sea of sameness – and had I flicked through the tech sheets beforehand, I would have been gloomily bracing myself. Winemaking just about across the board was uniform: machine-harvested grapes; stainless-steel, temperature-controlled, cool fermentations; less than 3 g/l residual sugar; a few months on lees. What I would never have anticipated was the diversity. There wasn't a tedious moment. That wasn't all. In fact, there were a number of other things about this tasting that surprised me.
The first and only negative was to see a handful of Sauvignons at 14% and even 14.5% alcohol. That's knocking quite high for a 'cool' region. Is this global warming at work? Is it work in the vineyard or cellars that is having an impact? Or is it sly labelling to ensure that they escape the US tariffs imposed in October 2019 on French wines under 14%? I hope anyway, if these are accurate readings, that it's not a trend we're going to see more of in the Loire. It's bad enough that bordeaux alcohols are starting to look Rhône-like.
Secondly, after having come across a few supermarket Loire Sauvignons with a distinctly pungent tropicality eerily reminiscent of a certain New World SB style, I was thrilled and relieved to find that in the selection I had in front of me there was no evidence of that. Flavours were clear and well-defined, but there was nothing brassy or brash about these wines. They were aromatic without being in your face. And whether residual sugar was less than 0.5 g/l or 3.5 g/l, in all but one or two wines the perception of dryness was in total harmony.
Sauvignon Blanc is often described as an obvious, easy-to-understand variety, with only the finest examples having much nuance. I could not say the same about these wines. The Touraines in particular, most of which retail at well under £15 a bottle, showed remarkable finesse and layers – enough to capture my attention for far longer than their New World counterparts. Not only that, but they went well with the most unlikely array of foods. Move over goat's cheese. Smoked duck, fresh blackberries, rocket and a clementine dressing was one glorious example. Rare lamb in a lemony tahini yogurt sauce was another. Carrot cake salad; Goan green coconut chutney and pakoras; kimchi omelette; sauerkraut (seriously!); pickled anchovies and tomato salad. They're wines that love food and food loves them.
In 2011, two communes in Touraine, Oisly and Chenonceaux, were authorised to append their names to the Touraine appellation (there were three other communes as well, but these are the two communes that specialise in Sauvignon Blanc). They stood out; superbly complex, serious, powerful wines that stopped me in my tracks. These are communes to be watching like a hawk.
The 60 tasting notes below (including a handful from Jancis) are presented in alphabetical order by producer (sur)name but you can reorder them by score, vintage or appellation if you prefer.
In conversion to organic. The estate of Isabelle Pangault (ex Foncalieu winemaker). 85% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Chardonnay. 35-year-old vines from 2.5 ha on sandy clay. Half of the Chardonnay is fermented in 400-litre barrel and 5% of the Sauvignon is aged in terracotta jar. Six months on lees. No malo. RS 2.5 g/l. (Alcohol on the label is 14%, on the tech sheet it's 14.5%.)
Parma violets and greengage aromas. Broad-shouldered with spice and richness of fruit – this tastes like those tiny golden-green figs poached in wine with cinnamon and cardamom and white pepper. Creamy, languid texture. I love the peppery finish that has fine nuances of matcha and wasabi powder. The Chardonnay seems to give it an almost indulgent weight, that barrel tucks spice and texture deep into the fruit, and the Sauvignon strides strong and long and citrus-muscled across it all. Exciting Touraine by Ms Pangault. (TC)
Certified organic. 23-year-old vines on 3 ha of clay-limestone. On lees for five months. RS 0.7 g/l.
Delicate nose, white flowers rather than grassiness. Very fine citrus weaving silver threads through lemon-verbena fragrance. Purity of fruit and structure. Long and true. This might well be GV. (TC)
Certified organic. 22-year-old vines on a 1-ha vineyard on clay-limestone soils. Five months on lees. RS <0.5 g/l.
Outgoing mango and gooseberry fruit on the nose. Less tropical and much sharper on the palate, but no less confident. Lots of geometrical acidity, like a mouthful of green-grapefruit Lego bricks. Mouth-watering, precise, no-nonsense. (TC)
Certified organic. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. 25-year-old vines on clay limestone. Three months on lees. RS 0.5 g/l. No malo.
Gooseberries and passion fruit on the nose. Confident, open and expressive, with generosity of fruit and creamy curves outpacing the greener, keener flecks of lime and pith and nettle leaf. Broader and richer than most. But it also has a wonderful, cleansing lift through the nose, similar to what you get with wasabi or mustard powder, and that plays with the richness, giving it the lines and direction it needs. Fills all the spaces in the mouth and tingles in the corners. Delicious. GV (TC)
Certified Haute Valeur Environnementale. Eight-year-old vines on a single 11-ha plot of clay-limestone. RS <2 g/l. Alcohol on the label is 13% but the tech sheet says 13.5%. Take your pick!
White grapefruit and blackcurrant-leaf aromas. Lovely vibrating acidity with a cheeky hint of blackcurrant fruit towards the mid palate and filling out the finish. Great stuffing and substance here without being loud or heavy. Really interesting and satisfying! (TC)
20-year-old vines on flint, clay and limestone. Six months on lees. No malo. RS 3 g/l.
Jasmine florals and even a faint drift of roses on the nose, with underlying cooked gooseberries. Fragrant, lime- and passion-fruit-syrup-dipped petals. It has the spiny tart lines of Sauvignon but there is also a prettiness, a gentleness, to the fruit. Early peaches. Pink grapefruit. A nettle leaf or two. Neat. (TC)
Light, frank, green vegy nose with really nice ripe fruit and a light, smoky finish. Whistle clean but not anodyne. Seems much riper and fuller than most wines from this appellation I have tasted before. QGV13.5%
The most elegant and racy of these three soil-identified bottlings of Sauvignon Blanc from this once-minor appellation. Though underneath there is a real spread of ripe green-fruit flavour. Again, long and so precise. Less obviously 'mineral' and fumey than the Silex bottling.12.5%
Modest but intriguing nose. The opposite of flashy! Very precise yet broad and saline and very appetising. So much more rewarding than the average Sauvignon Blanc. Savoury and interesting, with good persistence.12.5%
Pungent and intense, minerally nose with fruit that's really quite ripe and full. Gosh the Upper Loire is changing! Nice bite on the end with a little whiff of struck stone. This would make a scintillating aperitif or accompaniment to white fish and vegetable dishes. Impressively persistent. Quite bold.12.5%
Rather diffuse nose – not crisp and sharp. Ripe, almost sweet, nose. This tastes a bit more like a New World Sauvignon than like the Pouilly-Fumé of old. Flattering but very forward. Finishes just a little early.12.5%
Light nose, well-mannered palate and more obvious acidity than in the Pouilly-Fumé 2019. Chalky, medium-length of finish. Pure with very bright fruit. But nothing like the tension and longevity of old. There's even a certain sweetness here.12.5%
Heavy, broad bottle. A little more depth to the nose of this than the 2019 Sancerre but it's almost honeyed! Ready now – not sure about the future development. Lovely texture though. A lovely drink for now.12.5%
Certified Haute Valeur Environnementale level 3. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. 20-year-old vines on sandy clay. Four months on lees in stainless steel. RS 1.6 g/l.
A tiny bit smoky on the nose, but packed with fruit in the mouth. Much more rounded, peachy fruit than many in this nettles-and-gooseberries line-up. But it's not down the NZ-tropical end of the spectrum either. The winemaker suggests lychees on the tech sheet and for once, I agree! This is very good stuff. The acidity has purpose and length, there is a twist of wet-granite minerality set deep into the core, and the fruit has moreishly ripe flesh. Bravo, Alain Claudel. (TC)
Certified Haute Valeur Enironnementale from 2019.
Textbook supermarket Loire Sauvignon. Green peas and gooseberries. Ticks the boxes and delivers at £7, but you're never going to skip a heartbeat over it. (TC)
Certified Haute Valeur Environnementale. 30-year-old vines on clay limestone. Three to four months on lees. No malo. RS 3 g/l. Alcohol on the label is 12.5%, on the tech sheet 13%.
Pear and hawthorn-blossom aromas. Very sweet fruit in the mouth. Ripe apricots and passion fruit with a stab of lemon-and-lime acidity. Very alive and vibrant – seems to pop in the mouth. Almost a little salty on the finish, along with a suggestion of mountain-stream stones. Moreish and creating the perfect triangle of ripeness, acidity and interest. (TC)
In conversion to Terra Vitis certification. RS 3 g/l.
Slightly catty with white florals. Tart and thin. (TC)
18-year-old vines. Three months on lees. No malo. RS 2 g/l.
A ripe nose with heavier passion-fruit notes than most of these Touraines. Tastes ripe, too. Passion fruit and fig, a touch of asparagus – almost New World-like and it tastes as if there is more residual sugar than 2 grams. I can feel the alcoholic warmth at the back of this one, even though it's far from the highest alcohol in this line-up. Made to a market? (TC)
Made by Maryline and Francois Desloges. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. 28-year-old vines.
NHB. Gooseberry with a touch of passion fruit on the nose. Some sweetness of fruit crimped into a lime-pierced sheath. You're not going to relax into a wine like this, but it has a tense, citrus-driven drive that would whack the right food out of the ball park. Limes and fresh coriander and salty mussels? (TC)
10-year-old Sauvignon Gris vines grown on a 3-ha vineyard in the Nantes. Six months on lees.
Smells like grilled peaches and cream, a sprinkle of toasted almonds. Has a rich smokiness and breadth in the mouth, but the acidity drives arrows of direction and focus and pulls it into a tightly contained sheath of flavour. Strikingly unusual. Touches of bitter marmalade, cobnuts, smoked honey, cumin and a hint of quince. But bone dry. This is a wine that you have to search for answers. An insider wine. (TC)
Winegrower Francis Audiot. 100% Sauvignon Blanc on Kimmeridgian marl. Stainless-steel fermentation and ageing on lees.
Well-framed grapefruit notes leading straight from the headspace in the glass to a broad sweep of the palate. This has a rare Riesling-like acidity for a Sauvignon – cut-glass crystal with hand-blown purity and curve. An almost piercing transparency and clarity that transcends fruit and acidity. This is a wine that, if you approach trying to find all the flavours, you're going to miss it entirely. Taste it landscape wide, not microscope narrow. (TC)
30% skin-contact maceration for 12 hours. No lees contact. No malo. RS 3.5 g/l.
The higher residual sugar really stands out from the very dry Touraine Sauvignons. Passion-fruit bonbons. Lovely fresh mint-leaf herbiness that cuts and lifts the sweetness. This is Touraine for those used to NZ Sauvignons, which is not to say it isn't good. It has sap and big fruit and will be gorgeous with lime/mango/papaya/chilli Asian salads or (for something more wintry) red cabbage and Puy lentil salad with feta and an orange dressing. Lots of big-flavour food-pairing potential here. (TC)
Certified organic. Vines planted in 1966. 10 months on lees.
Rich, green-fig nose that became more and more Seville-orange marmalade over a few days. A touch of eucalyptus and green peppercorn. Quite of bit of racehorse kick to this wine. No aperitif-sipping little snippet of a wine. Intense orange citrus, but not fruity. Subtle notes of vanilla pod. Pair this with serious food. I'm thinking rare lamb steaks with a mint-and-yogurt sauce… [I did try this with rare lamb, roast romanesco and a tahini-lemon-mint-garlic-yogurt dressing. It worked beautifully straight off with the romanesco and yogurt, but it kind of hovered with the lamb… until we squeezed a few drops of lemon juice over the meat. Then it took off.] (TC)
20-year-old vines on clay and flint. Five months on lees.
Ripe gooseberry nose. Acidity is forward but the fruit is balanced and clean and expressive. Bit of sand and rock giving ballast to the nettle green of the finish. (TC)
Certified Haute Valeur Environnementale level 3. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. 20-year-old vines. Six months on lees. No malo.
NHB. Light apricot nose which slides easily into tingling-bright, green-sharp-edged apricot and peach fruit. Delicate, fine-boned, with length and grace. A long, chiselled spine of white pepper and graphite dust and river pebbles. Very subtle complexity. One of the prettiest, most finely structured Touraines in this line-up. (TC)
40-year-old vines, spontaneous fermentation and on lees for six months. Half the wine goes through malo. RS 0.7 g/l.
Strong, green-flecked guava fruit on the nose turning very slightly smoky with blackcurrant sweetness and the warm sweet-green-herbs flavours of a pile of yesterday's mown grass. A very very fine note of vanilla and marzipan on the finish. Well-delineated and shapely and complex. The tech sheet says it's imported into the UK but I can't find anywhere listing it. I hope someone is selling this – it's a truly lovely Touraine. (TC)
Thirty-year-old vines. Some lees ageing.
Greengage and green fig. More roundness than most. Fresh with an attractively bitter bite. I love the citrus-pith and peach-kernel bitterness and texture of this wine. It grapples and pushes back. It's a Sauvignon with guts (rather than alcohol), temerity (rather than brass), determination (rather than implacability). (TC)
Gentle nose that is less gooseberry-green and herbal than most. But sharp and angular and a bit argumentative on the palate. Very sharp. More edges and acidity than fruit. (TC)
Not much on the nose but a friendly, fruity Sancerre with more tropicality than you'd expect for the AOC and the alcohol. A touch of sculptural herbaceousness flecked with wet gravel. Well balanced and attractive. (TC)12.5%
Certified Haute Valeur Environnementale and Terra Vitis. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. 4-year-old vines on clay and sand. Seven months on fine lees. No malo. RS 1.7 g/l.
Not much nose – just a little bit of wet, freshly mown lawn. Big flavours of lemon, lime and pineapple boiled sweets/hard candy although it doesn't taste confected. Good, firm acidity to temper the fruit (and alcohol!). It's all there on the mid palate but then abruptly falls of a cliff on the finish. I'd find it tiring to have more than one glass, though. (TC)
100% Sauvignon Blanc. 15-year-old vines on flint and clay. Four months on lees, no malo, RS 2 g/l.
Smells of blackcurrant bush and crushed bay leaf. Leafy, green and quite flinty hard. A well-behaved Touraine if a little rigid in its compliance. (TC)
100% Sauvignon Blanc, 20-year-old vines grown on sandy clay. 40% hand-picked. 12 months on the lees. RS 2 g/l.
Seems closed, but gives glimpses of marmalade and bitter citrus, rose petals and roasted walnuts as it swirls. Intense, clenched, immense. More than any other Touraine Sauvignon, this wine rises up, towering, feeling and tasting of stone. And yet it's not monolithic. Those rose petals on the nose are pressed into the palate. There is grapefruit peel, there is cardamom, there is a fistful of vibratingly intense yuzu. And as it fills the mouth, it keeps offering more: lemon sherbet stirred into heavy cream, sweet hay, soft-leaf herbs both bitter and minty, borage and peach. It's not often I'd feel wont to recommend a 14.5% Touraine, but this is a seriously ambitious, interesting wine. (TC)
Certified organic. 20-year-old vines on silt and clay. Fermented in stainless steel and aged for six months (but not on lees). No malo. RS 0.4 g/l.
Juicy and full of cancan-kicking fruit. Real substance here! And depth and length. Delivers bang for buck. GV (TC)
NHB. Angular, not-quite-ripe gooseberry nose. But there is a wonderful play between angularity and (subtle) roundness on the palate. You can roll those gooseberries around in your mouth. They're ripe but don't lose their gooseberry spite. It tastes of sorrel and cumin seeds. It nudges you with friendliness and then nips your ankles. (TC)12.5%
In conversion to organic certification. Flint soils. Fermented in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks, aged on lees.
Slightly strange in that Les Affaubertis appears on the back label and not the front, and that the tech sheet says 2018 but the back label says 2019. I hope I'm reviewing Les Affaubertis 2019 and not a generic 2018 Pouilly-Fumé. I like his modern, hand-sketched, almost child-like label of landscape, moon, stars, grapes, trunk, leaf. Steely wine, compressed into a rigidity of green and grey. All backbone, no belly. This is the kind of wine you want if you need a brushed-steel backdrop to reflect food with angles and citrus and metallic shafts. You wouldn't drink it for its own pleasures. (TC)
Certified Haute Valeur Environnementale. 15-year-old vines on flint and clay stones. 30% skin-contact maceration in the press for 12 hours. On fine lees with bâtonnage for three months. RS 3.12 g/l.
Big tropical fruits and blackcurrant leafiness on the nose. Super-tart lime acidity but there's a sweetness (that tastes like residual sugar) which bends it from arrows into hoops, softening the impact. Fresh, crisp, clean but a bit of a wallflower. (TC)
100% Sauvignon Blanc. 40-year-old vines. Aged on fine lees for eight months. No malo. RS 2.9 g/l.
Almost spicy nose! Not many of these Touraines have spiciness. Acacia florals that tumble from the nose into a palate that is deep with orange citrus and blackcurrants and blackcurrant leafiness and guavas. Long, lime-zested arrows of acidity driving focus and intensity from the front to the very back of the palate. Cardamom and fennel seed, lime pickle and saltiness. This is a seriously interesting Touraine. At £13, it's a bargain. VGV (TC)
Julien and Arnaud Moreux are the current winemakers, but it’s a family with winemaking history dating back to 1677. They own the monopole La Loge Aux Moines, which lays claim to being the first recorded planting of Sauvignon Blanc and is the foundation of Pouilly-Fumé. As an aside, their grandfather took in the young Didier Dagueneau for two years. When Didier left to start his own winery, Raymond Moreaux sold him the famous plot of flint that became Dageneau's cuvée Silex.
There's an almost marine intensity to this, like sea-glass pebbles dropped into a rough, hand-fashioned clay mug of dried-orange, wakame seaweed and nettle tea. Grapefruit tucked into dune-grass green. It has density and lime-leaf texture, and – always the mark of a truly outstanding white wine – is as complex and balanced at room temperature as it is cold. No hurry to drink it, although it would be hard to resist right now. (TC)
Certified organic and biodynamic. On white calcareous clay. Hand-harvested. Fermented and aged in stainless steel.
Cobnuts and crushed tarragon with a vanilla sweetness on the nose. Immediate depth and life apparent in the first mouthful of this wine. Steel and mountain-stream pebbles; sea glass and samphire and kiwi fruit. Through and up the back of the throat there is a gentle burn, almost more of a hum or a burr, that tastes like wasabi powder and ground cardamom and ground ginger and white pepper. And yet, strangely, on tasting this wine you would not call it spicy. It's Macavity; it's fugacious; it tastes of smoke and mirrors. And it is so, so salty. Japanese food? Oysters and seaweed? I find myself craving a pebble beach and a cold, salty wind and iron-grey sea and a cup of picked cockles. (TC)
Certified organic and biodynamic (Demeter).
Quite subdued on the nose. Seems to hunker down, gathering a heaviness of stone-ballasted citrus peel and a gauzy smoke screen to keep the drinker at bay. Some ripe peaches smeared in bitter Seville-orange marmalade tucked in behind that smoke screen. You could drink this now, but the real excitement won't unfold until at least a year or two in. Worth waiting for. (TC)
Certified organic and biodynamic (Demeter). From a limestone parcel near Tracy-sur-Loire, aged 18 months in concrete tanks.
Diaphanous nose. Whether it's the age or the terroir, this Sauvignon melts into Viognier-like peachiness, Chenin-like quince and something close to lanolin and wax, and Riesling-like in its lime-dipped-in-honey tension and sweetness. It is mellow but not loose. It is gracious but not affable. It builds but doesn't amplify. There is bitterness, but it's wrapped in the fine-ground wet-clay texture and so you feel it rather than tasting it. Long, insistent finish. Needs food, but what I would most like to try this with, for some reason, is oysters poached in Pernod cream. (TC)
Hand-picked, spontaneous fermentation, aged on lees with regular bâtonnage and bottled without any sulphite additions.
Dusty Seville-orange marmalade aromas; smoky-sweet bacon and lychees. Bone dry. Tastes of pickled yellow plums and those wonderful Middle Eastern salt-preserved lemons. It has that strangely contradictory sophisticated-rugged texture of tweed. It's spice and earth without being spicy or earthy. It'll divide the room but I'm on the 'this is fantastic' side. It does come in the weirdest bottle, though! Brilliantly food friendly. Try with sauerkraut! (TC)
Certified Terra Vitis and Haute Valeur Environnementale level 3. 20-year-old vines on sand and clay. Six months on lees, no malo. RS 2 g/l.
Quite suppressed on the nose. Distinct weight on the palate with an almost glycolic texture. Passion fruit and something almost caramelised, although there is also something that reminds me of striking metal on stone. Powerful, but just a bit too monolithic and alcoholic. (TC)
From parcels dotted around the village of Verdigny. A blend of the three major soil types found in the region: caillotes, silex and terres blanches.
Impervious on the nose; walking that line of fruit and metal and stone and smoke and spice that cannot be described as savoury or fruity or mineral, and yet it's not anything else. There is saltiness, certainly – a kind of caper brine that is both tang and salt and that you think should belong to the sea but here, it doesn't. It's defiantly itself. It is taut with athletic muscle and curved into poetry. Art and science in a glass. (TC)
Made by Philippe and Frédéric Cadart. 55-year-old Sauvignon vines on clay and chalk. Stainless-steel fermentation and then six to eight months on lees.
NHB. There's a fatness on the nose, like decaying frangipani flowers. Sweaty honey. An interesting, sharp-elbows-and-soft-belly combination of richness and acidity. Honey and kombucha. Has an old-brass gleam that reminds me of firelight on a battered coal scuttle. Long, provocative, and delightfully it's not a wine that purrs but a wine that has claws and a bit of a spit. Intriguing stuff. (TC)
Certified Haute Valeur Environnementale. 15-year-old vines on clay and sand. Three months on lees. No malo. RS 2.6 g/l.
Creamy nose but the palate is shot through with very skinny spikes of lemon acidity and citrus-pith bitterness. Hard flavours of gunflint. Sour finish. (TC)
NHB. Smoke and almonds. This is stunning. Flame-grilled grapefruit layering lemon-laced taffeta. More almonds, wasabi-powder lift, tarragon spikes and guava. The flavours and cold, brine-clenched freshness crash across the palate, whorling crystals and stones, citrus and herbs, salt and time. One of the most beautiful Sauvignons of this entire line-up. VGV (TC)13%
Sauvignon Blanc on calcareous clay. Fermented and aged on lees in stainless steel.
Has the smell of thick-skinned, insect-pocked green apples from ancient English apple trees where the flavours are richly grassy and packed into the tannic skins. Lots of pugilistic character here with flecks of sweetness and charm. Mown grass and orchards and crushed green leaves and summer sunlight dappling on cool clover and tree-root moss. This wine, quite literally, smell-tastes of that moment in summer when you're lying in the grass, you can hear insects and smell earthworms, and then you bury your nose into the ground at the base of an orchard tree. If you haven't done that in your life, go and do it. It will judder through your bones and you will never forget the smell. This wine would bring summer to me in the middle of the darkest, greyest, wettest winter. (TC)
Certified Terra Vitis and Haute Valeur Environnementale. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. 30-year-old vines on clay hillsides. Seven months on lees, no malo, RS 3.55 g/l.
NHB. Lightly smoky blackcurrant leaf on the nose. Sweetly ripe blackcurrant fruit on the palate but compressed into long racing lines thanks to fresh, elegant, verbena-minty acidity. This is a rather delicious mouthful! I love the juxtaposition of dark, almost candied berry fruit and the tingling green leafiness. I can imagine this going beautifully with a smoked duck, mizuna leaf, shiso and blackberry salad. [Two days later: I tried it with the smoked duck salad, dressing it with blitzed clementine, ginger, fresh shiso leaf, garlic and pumpkin seed oil. It was a stunning match. This wine continued to taste better and better over a week.] (TC)
Vines planted on clay limestone between 1982 and 2013.
Vanilla and clove-spiked oranges and ripe, cooked gooseberries on the nose. Jam-packed with juicy, rambunctious fruit. It's a circus of citrus, from white to green to gold to red, and a hullabaloo of tap-dancing, heel-kicking minty, cool-fiery, shiso and fennel and tarragon herbs. So lively! Although the finish becomes more golden tropical with intriguing notes of mocha coffee. This has substance. (TC)
100% Sauvignon Blanc from 20-year-old vines grown on a 2-ha hillside of alluvium and limestone subsoil. RS 3 g/l.
Citrusy aromas. A tiny prickle on the tongue (CO2?). Ripe, warm and almost spicy: baked apples in their skins, grilled lemon peel. Some grapefruit-pith bitterness. The acidity is well reined-in but still structuring the fruit. Not textbook Touraine, and I like it. Walks with one foot off the well-beaten path. (TC)
Aged for nine months in stainless steel (but not on lees). No malo. RS 0.33 g/l.
Green and pungent on the nose and a little bit sweaty on the palate. Correct but short. (TC)
100% Sauvignon Blanc vines from 10 to 65 years old. Fermented and aged on lees in stainless steel.
Bright, ripe citrus fruit. Pink grapefruit and a kind of guava-nettle tea sweetness and herbal green. Punky, spiky palate. Lovely balance. Compact and complete. Fills every corner of the mouth and tingles with pressure for much longer than you'd expect. Over-delivers. (TC)
Certified Haute Valeur Environnementale.
Crushed gooseberry nose and exploding with green, eye-wateringly sharp gooseberry fruit. Crisp and bracing. Short finish. (TC)
Sings clear as a bell. Grassy but scented, in the way that fresh basil leaves and tarragon and fennel fronds and parsley and chervil smell, crushed, chopped, in your hands. A bouquet of soft summer herbs. Gooseberries, green and sea-glass bright and saline-washed and brushed with grapefruit zest. (TC)13.5%
Bottle 5,192 of 6,000.
So herb-scented: tarragon and Greek basil and fennel plaited into a cloudy floral framework that hovers, both tentative and intense, over a core of sharp greengage, asparagus and freshly podded peas, tiny green figs and white pepper and pink peppercorns. As tightly petalled as a rose bud, but rose bud in shades of green. Carved into glass. Carved into grass. Edges etched into lime and grapefruit, shaved into shards and yet there is weight and depth and curve. (TC)
Made by the Oisly co-operative: Les Conférie des Vignerons de Oilsy et Thésée. 20-year-old vines. No malo.
Smells like an orange which has started to harden and decay. Burnt and sour. There is something very chemical about this wine. Nope. Very spittable. (TC)
60-year-old vines on clay and flint.
Tense and clean with long, steely lines. Green, herbal, and with a neck-prickling citrus acidity that throws a great wash of bracing freshness across the palate. (TC)
Certified Haute Valeur Environnementale. 20-year-old vines on clay limestone. No malo.
Slightly sweaty. Green-guava flavours. Blackcurrant and mint cordial dosed with lime. Ripe but not tropical fruit. Good balance. I'd be interested in trying this with a gentle coconut-based green curry. (TC)
25-year-old vines on clay limestone and siliceous limestone. Aged on fine lees for six months. No malo. RS 1.4 g/l.
Citrusy nose with some punchy herbaceousness. Layers of lemon verbena, ripe grapefruit, blackcurrant bud and white currants. Very nice on the mid palate with a dab of dustiness, but just a bit short. (TC)