The Call To Beverage: Tasting the best in Tours

This last weekend was spent with friends just outside Tours in the Loire Valley, fabulous wine country with a long history and tradition, Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc country.

The weekend became a “call to beverage”, as our friends are in the process of moving house, but the current house has a very substantial wine cellar full of fine wine which has been compiled over many years. So this became the mission of the weekend, the more we consume, the less there is to move. Those opportunities don’t come along very often, and I’m always happy to help …

The wines sampled were from many regions of France, but the gems that stick in my mind had two things in common — they were all local, and they were all bought directly from the cellar door.

We opened the account with a Domaine de la Taille Aux Loups 2011, a wine from the famed Jacky Blot, with his deliciously concentrated Chenin Blanc from his original 8 hectare vineyard in Montlouis, where the average of the vines is 80 years old. If you can find any wines from Jacky Blot, it’s an opportunity you shouldn’t miss. Jacky Blot negotiant-turned-wine-maker in 1989 is widely regarded in the region for having taken Chenin Blanc to unprecedented heights of quality. This was no exception to those standards.

This was followed by a wine from Francois Chidaime, Les Bournais 2005, another wine from 100% Chenin Blanc from Montlouis. With bottle age this was displaying all the fabulous qualities you look for in Chenin Blanc from the Loire, honey on the nose!

The evening smoothly progressed to another stand out moment with a Philippe Alliet Chinon, Coteau de Noiré 2009. A wine made with 100% Cabernet Franc, a Chinon with good weight, aged in second fill Bordeaux barrels as is the preference of the wine maker. Philippe Alliet takes his source of inspiration from the Bordeaux region, it works well…

The following day, after some suitable recovery time and a good lunch we went to visit the small family vineyard of La Grange Tiphaine in Montlouis.

This 15 hectare vineyard, family owned and run since 1730, now steered by Damien Delecheneau. The dedication to the cause is impressive to watch, every aspect of the job is undertaken by Damien, as you would expect in a vineyard of this size, a man who gets his hands dirty, and has a very clear vision of what he is aiming to achieve.

In vintages such 2012, 2013, and 2016 when nature is not kind, it offers very small yields of quality fruit, but no compromise is made. The vineyard in Montlouis has some vines that are 130 year old, which in good years deliver grapes with magnificent levels of concentration, but with yields of only 8 hectare litres per hectare, that will keep the wine purist a lot happier than the accountant. Which is how it should be!

I did leave with 2 cases of the Nouveau-Nez, made from Chenin Blanc, bottled with 14 grams of residual sugar per litre, the finished article after 12 months in bottle, delivers a lightly sparkling wine with 1.5 grams of residual sugar. Very interesting, very good! I’m going to serve it with dessert, I just haven’t decided which one yet.