Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sweet Loires

With the Alcoholidays upon us, it's time to revisit the amazing late harvest chenins available at Millesime:

2003 Coteaux du Layon SGN 500 ml - Amazing 'entry-level SGN' - a great way to see what the fuss is about at a bargain price.
2002 Bonnezeaux SGN 500 ml - Very serious complexity, still very very young and showing plenty of 'baby fat'.

2005 Coteaux du Layon "Les Onnis" - the 'Poor Man's Quart de Chaume', from a parcel adjacent to QdC. This particular wine is the peer of many QdC.

2005 Quarts de Chaume - A quarter of the production of this vineyard was always given as tribute to the Lord of the land in pre-Revolutionary times. Not hard to see why, the wine is absolutely packed with goodies, and a 750ml bottle costs much less than an inferior 375 of Huet...

2001 Coteaux du Layon Saint-Aubin SGN 500ml - The best of the best. 5hl/ha yields. The finish is about 5 minutes - insane!

I've never been able to understand how one can say that they are into wine, and yet have no experience of these sublime nectars. The "Grand Bob" himself either doesn't know what they are or doesn't care - hard to say which is worse. Chenin is similar to riesling in that wines made from it can range from bone dry to toothachingly sweet, always with a level of acid that ensures both pleasure in drinking at all stages of development and great longevity in the cellar - it is no exaggeration to claim that these 5 wines will outlive us all.

These two estates are masters of the dry (sec), late-harvest (moelleux), and super late harvest TBA style (liquoreux) styles, which may or may not be botrytised. These 5 wines are all in the liquoreux style and exhibit a plethora of heady aromas and flavors of candied fruits, honey, nougat and an incredible richness. The high acidity of the wines invites another taste, never fatiguing the palate.

Fans of botrytis, or "pourriture noble" need look no further than the 3 SGNs that I have available for your delectation. There are precious few grape varieties that are improved by botrytis, and chenin is clearly right there with riesling in producing absolutely stunning and ethereal wines. The good news is that a great "grains nobles" from the Loire is much, much less expensive than comparable German riesling Trockenbeerenauslesen, or one of the classified Sauternes. Another point in the Loire's favor, at least to my taste is that like the German TBA and unlike Sauternes, the wines show little if any wood.

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