Archive for ‘France: Loire’

May 13, 2021

Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon, 2015

From the cellar: Ah yes I remember it well (said Maurice Chevalier in Gigi for anyone under 102).  This gorgeous wine straddles the fence of sticky, crushed blackberries, inky on the fingers after picking, with cleaning the stalls at the racetrack.  There is a deep, dark, currant and savoury streak crossed with the barnyard, undeniable Cab Franc, exquisitely French Cab Franc, and 100% Chinon.

This is our last bottle (of the Jean-Maurice Raffault, may he RIP, 2015).  Gismondi apparently recommended it as a cellar pick; it held up well.  Based on our notes from last summer, the tannins have diminished significantly.  We have no note on purchase date but get this: It was under $20.  So go figure, must have been sold before it was bottled! I think it’s been lying for four years at least.  There is only one Chinon at BC Liquor, as of this post (ONE CHINON I write in all caps, how pathetic is BCL…), and it’s $35 before tax.

Price: $19.49 at BC Liquor (back in the day).

Market Liquidity: Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live on the Loire.

April 12, 2021

Domaine FL Le Parc, Savennieres, 2015

Pure and unadulterated.

Decanter got it right, “best in show” like the title pooch at Westminster.  It drinks so precious you might feel a Faberge egg is being scrambled.  Striking on first taste, a short tropical note of coconut, some serious acidity, grapefruit pith, and a finish, extremely restrained, of melon.  Jackie O in a sweater set and pearls.

Chenin Blanc, in our view, is to die for.  My desert island white.  And no doubt this is a pinnacle of the Loire.  But it does drink just a tad, how can I put it? Elegant.  Sort of like arriving at a restaurant that requires a jacket and having to wear a club loaner; think Michael Bluth double dating at the country club in the size 44 large suit jacket.

Price: The best part of $50 at BC Liquor

Market Liquidity: Art house treasure (but, still, it’s art house).

December 25, 2020

2020 Wine of the Year: Domaine Huet Le Haut-Lieu Sec Vouvray, 2015

From the cellar: Hands down the best wine we drank in 2020.  Wow.  Words simply aren’t necessary.

As a tradition, we open a bottle of Vouvray sometime in December, celebratory style.  Usually it’s a demi-sec, and more often than not it’s Huet.  The Wine Advocate gave this 2015 a comfortable 93 points, and in some semi-effectual way tried to describe its fruit aromas and subtle herbal aromas.  Unfortunately, their prose couldn’t match the majesty.  This was eloquence, diplomacy, mysterious, a John Le Carre, may he rest in peace.  The WA did write “”a very long and grippy, tension-filled finish” to which I would echo and say it’s Escher-esque.

Chenin Blanc is perhaps the most mysterious (or unpredictable?) of white grapes; it can be coarse and edgy, it can be cloyingly sweet, but it can also age into a deliriously good state.  Witness this spectacular vintage.  I wish we had more.  I wish we had more laying down. But be grateful for small mercies I suppose.

Price: In October 2017, $48 from Marquis, and so less than a bottle of Culmina’s Hypothesis.  Cin cin.

Market Liquidity: The weft and warp of the finest silk in a bottled beverage.

August 13, 2020

Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon, 2015

From the cellar: The 2017 can be found around town, so I’m guessing we’ve had this kicking around for a couple of years. 

Surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of posts for Chinon on the blog.  Not sure why, we gravitate towards the leather, gamey top notes of a decent Cab Franc, and this doesn’t disappoint.  A very juicy, black currant and lightly aromatic spice on the finish.  Crazy tannins considering the lie down.  Lovely with food, perfect with food, a little “loose” on the palate as a sipper.

Price: Not sure when, but whatever date we bought it, low 20s before tax.

Market Liquidity: One of those wines unlikely to get high points but highly likely to satisfy.

December 31, 2018

Domaine Huet Vouvray, Clos du Bourg, 2015

Where to start?  How about magnificent?  How about exceptional?  How about demonstrably brilliant?

 

Huet is expensive, it’s a splurge for us, but every year Marquis on Davie gets a truckload and we pick up a few for the cellar.  We drank this too soon.  We couldn’t resist.  Yet it didn’t disappoint, not one iota.

 

The balanced fruit, a luscious caramel, sweetish without cloying, delicate but not lightweight, it defies description.  Three times as much as we like to pay for wine but worth every cent.

 

Price: Around $60 at Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: A Christmas miracle.

December 22, 2018

Savennieres Chateau de Varenees, 2016

What an exceptional varietal.  You never know with Chenin.  Witness Vouvray.  The Huet socked away in the cellar.  And South Africa, so much to revel in.  But, alas, not so much this sere and abrasive assertive white.

 

Austere.  Could have been crafted by the Amish.  Simply too dry for our taste.  Really not that food friendly unless you’re eating rich, French rich, fish in butter rich, but if all you’re doing is drinking to cut the richness, a Coke will do.

 

Gismondi loved it.  It is of its ilk and like many whites you will come across in France but it was a non-starter for us, from sipping to accompanying food.

 

Price: No record, which leads me to believe it might have been gifted, as I’m rather fastidious about this sort of thing, although online $30 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: BC Liquor describes it as having “aromatic persistence.”  Hmm.  Could be a description of Febreeze.

August 9, 2018

Domaine Franck Millet, Sancerre Rouge, 2016

The white is available at a much higher price in private stores and, generally, if you live in BC and are looking at Sancerre you are looking at whites.  So, let’s start with praising BCL for having a lovely red Sancerre, at a price point under $30 (although just), and giving pause to the much higher priced Pinot Noir churned out in BC that can’t compare.  Its lightness speaks to rosé.  Look at that glorious ruby red in the picture, light as a feather.  Gismondi quite liked it, more than us I would say, silky I think was his term, and it does have a perfumed freshness, rose and lavender, with a musky finish.  There is a whole red currant grape jelly “thing” on the palate that dissipates into air which makes you take another sip and another.  I couldn’t quite wrap my loving arms around it and give it the props the pros have but it is a lovely summer read, er red, a refreshing 12.5% alcohol, dreamy with a Cobb salad, but it was also a one off; not for us.

 

Price: Around $30 at BCL.

 

Market Liquidity: Like age appropriate clothing, it has its place.

 

December 16, 2017

Domaine Huet Le Mont Demi-Sec Vouvray, 2015

So a day or two ago we wrote about being let down by Champagne.  Which, to be honest, wasn’t fair to Champagne, it was more about the cost penalties of living in and buying wine in BC.  Most decent Champagnes in BC retail before taxes at around the $60 mark.  But here’s the rub: If you’re truly willing to spend $60 on a bottle of wine, why not go all out and get a Loire Chenin?

 

In December, when we pull out all the stops on decent bottles, we love to love Domaine Huet.  (The blog has a smattering of Huet posts including a 2001, 2005, 2008 and 2009, of various sorts and sites.)  We usually rip through a variety of the house, from sparkling on down (or up, as the price point goes and as our budget allows).  For a special day in advance of Christmas we pulled out the Mont Demi-Sec: and the semi-sweet is, well, rapturous.

 

Online I’ve seen reviews all over the map, so many adjectives I don’t know what the pros are thinking, it’s like they just wrote down words, maybe it was euphoria, but in a rare moment of total accord I would say the team over at WA hit the nail on the head when they described it as being “deep, rich and flinty on the nose, with caramel and vegetable flavors indicating a great complexity. Full-bodied, dense and powerful, this is highly complex and persistent, yet refreshing and transparent Chenin with a juicy fruit and lots of grip, energy and tension” and then blessed it with 96 points.

 

I would say, from the layperson’s view, if you can appreciate it, if you can even wrap your mind around how mind-numbingly harmonious this wine is, it is worth every penny of the $60 you will shell out.  And umpteen times more memorable than a bottle of Mumm.  Or, as we wrote recently, Moutard.

 

Price: $60 from Marquis.  God Bless Marquis.

 

Market Liquidity: A trip to the moon on gossamer wings.

August 17, 2016

Domaine du Bouchot, Pascale Kerbiquet Pouilly Fume 2014

Domaine du Bouchot, Pascale Kerbiquet Pouilly Fume 2014

Refined summer sipper, elegant dinner aperitif.  What did Hugh Johnson say about PF?  Something like “consistently disappointing.”  I guess, however, it depends on your view.  There is kumquat, orange rind, grapefruit pith, so the bouquet and finish combine from sour to stinging.  But the gobs of unctuous citris provide a long, round finish with a nutty, fresh cut grass flourish.  This certainly isn’t NZ Sauv Blanc.  No, it’s a gift from France.  Wrap it up and serve it with vichyssoise.

 

Price: $17 USD in Seattle.

 

Market Liquidity: It’s the proverbial smiley emoticon.  With a beret of course.

March 17, 2016

Cuvée Domaine du Bouchot, Pouilly-Fumé, 2014

Cuvée Domaine du Bouchot, Pouilly-Fumé, 2014The most balanced, exquisite and nuanced Sauvignon Blanc I’ve drunk in years. Astonishingly pleasurable; no hard herby knocks or jolting hay, clean and smooth like a manicured field, bare hints of the barnyard, much more mineral than grass, stone and flint without the acid, pure satisfaction. Could not, however, stand up to a well-spiced dinner or saffron scented Provencal stew.

 

Price: $17 USD in 2015.

 

Market Liquidity: A rare bird in a flock of New World SB mediocrity.