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Really Old Vines and just about old vines! From the Loire.
doing a bit of work (drinking!) on the subject of old vines and, in general, it
seems that, other things being equal, it is worthwhile paying something of a
premium for the wines from the gnarled old vines. With that in mind, why not try a few and compare them with a regular
wine from the same vineyard, which is often possible. I’ve been doing that over
the years and have regularly come down on the side of the wine from the older
is old? Twenty five years, fifty years. The experienced wine commentator Mary
Dowey reckons it has to be “forty years at least” and cautioned that not all
varieties benefit from age. “It doesn’t do anything for Cabernet Sauvignon or
Merlot but Grenache is well suited.” The main benefit is an “intensity of
flavour, really concentrated”.
Pony on left is not interested in wine!
Vignes Centenaire de Minière,
Bourgueil 2009, 13.5%, €19.00 at the château.
a dark ruby and the aromas are of dark fruit. It is refreshing and
concentrated, with a strong element of dark fruit flavours; it is smooth, rich with
hints of spice and has an excellent dry finish.
pony club, at least the adults on the party, were finishing an outdoor tasting
when we pulled into sunny Chateau de Minièrein the heart of the Bourgueil appellation last
summer. After a pleasant hour, maybe two, we finished off our tasting
under the shady trees with this wine made from the local stalwart, Cabernet Franc.
Loved it then and love it now.
comes from vines that average more than 100 years old and it has spent two years
in oak. The grapes are hand harvested and hand sorted, all under the direction
of wine-maker Eric Goujat. Belgian couple, Kathleen and Sigurd, took over the
chateau a few years back and have the vineyard in conversion to organic, a
process that is almost complete.
are labelled VieillesVignes (generally more than 30 years old) can command a premium.
This is the château’s most expensive wine but worth it, I think. Not allvines are suitable for long age but Cabernet
Franc seems to do well on it in this area!
In the cool cellars of Montplaisir (Chinon)
Domaine de L’Abbaye Vieilles
Vignes Chinon 2008, 12.5%, €7.50 at Cave Montplaisir in Chinon.
pepper and spices and dark berries are a feature here. On the palate it is
refreshing and fruity, with engaging fruit flavours and a lingering dry finish.
A very Cabernet Franc and good value too, at least in France!
to the current World Atlas of Wine, the wines of Chinon are “absurdly
undervalued”. That opinion is reinforced by the quality and price of this
are single varietal Cabernet Franc over 35 years old. It is aged in the cellars
in oak barrels for about 12 months depending on the vintage.
Anjou Blanc Vieille Vignes
2009, €15.00 at Chateau Soucherie
A tasting at Chateau Soucherie saw
us start with two classy wines, the Anjou Blanc Vielles Vignes 2009 and the
more expensive Savennières Clos des Perrières 2010. Could have spent more time
with these two but, on the initial tasting, put my money on the Vieilles Vignes (and even more of it on the Chaume that we came to later on).
The Vieilles Vignes was another winner
for the old vine brigade. “A unique wine
from vines of more than 80 years, rich and round, delicious as an accompaniment
to veal stew.”
Probably should have bought more of
it as, on our way out to the car in the baking parking area, we were told that
the 80 year old plants had been dug up and this was the last of the old stuff!
So, if you do come across it, do buy some and include one or two for me! I have
none left now and indeed I seem to have mislaid my notes on it. But it was a beautiful
well balanced wine, another confirmation for me that wines from old wines are
You may check out the Château’s
tasting notes (by Olivier Poussier, once voted the Best Sommelier in the World!)