Random TNs from Trip to Loire Valley (long)

We enjoyed a 5 day bicycling trip from Amboise to Saumur, followed by several days in Sancerre and two days in Chinon. While in Sancerre we had the opportunity to visit Domaine Vacheron. Despite a busy harvest time, we were warmly received by cousins Jean-Laurent and Jean-Dominque, plus we had the opportunity to meet Jean-Laurent’s father Jean-Louis. We tasted 2 2015 rouges, the Domaine and Belle Dame, and also tasted 4 2016 whites including the Chambrates, Les Romains, an un-named cuvée, and the Domaine. Each bottling showed off its terroir quite distinctly. The 2015 Belle Dame rouge and 2016 Chambrates were particularly good so we purchased a bottle of each. We also briefly saw the cellars of Domaine Alphonse Mellot, and met the younger Alphonse.

Some of the excellent wines sampled during the trip are noted below:

  • 2015 Alain Voge Cornas Les Chailles - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas (9/29/2018)
    Purchased off the wine list at Les Papilles. Dark opaque garnet. Fresh nose of smoke, plum, rosemary, lavender. Surprisingly open on the palate with layers of char, sweet red plum, craggy stone, and caramel. Medium weight, pairing well with slow-cooked lamb shoulder. Nice acidity and firm tannin without harshness. Moderately long finish of red and black fruit cut with stone. Extremely young but very high quality shining through. (91 pts.)
  • 2016 Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Chambrates - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Sancerre (9/28/2018)
    Purchased at the winery and paired with roast chicken several days later. Pale white gold hue. Nose of schist, grapefruit, mown grass, white flowers. Brimming with tart lemon-lime and grapefruit on the palate accompanied by white stone and discernible tingly spine. Harmonious smooth finish of pure citrus fruit and flint. Lovely. (91 pts.)
  • 2015 Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Rouge Belle Dame - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Sancerre Rouge (9/26/2018)
    Purchased at the winery and paired with pan-fried pork chops the next day. Aired in the glass for one hour. Brilliant transluscent ruby. Intense nose of high-pitched violets, raspberry, iodine, earth, soy, and stone. Great intensity and lift on the palate without weight, yielding layers of pure, slightly tart black raspberry and dark cherry cut with iron bits. Great back palate presence and concentration. Bright acidity and early, grippy tannin. Long finish of ethereal dark berry fruit and fine-grained earth. Superb. (93 pts.)
  • 2014 Alphonse Mellot Sancerre Rouge La Moussière - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Sancerre Rouge (9/25/2018)
    Purchased off the wine list at La Pomme d’Or, Sancerre. Medium ruby. Nose of black raspberry, plum, earth, damp cellar, hyacynthe. Measured authority and weight on the palate with layers of dark raspberry, earth, iodine, and hints of black currant. Moderate acidity and firm tannin leading to a longer finish of plum and black cherry cut with stone. A wine with hearty presence. (91 pts.)
  • 2016 Vincent Pinard Pinot Noir Sancerre Rouge - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Sancerre Rouge (9/25/2018)
    Purchased off the wine list at La Tour, Sancerre. Very dark ruby color. Nose of crushed black raspberry, violets, plum pits, stone. Medium- to full-bodied on the palate with dense layers of black raspberry and Bing cherry cut with hits of Oolong tea and iodine. Ample acidity “floating on the surface” as befits a young wine. Firm tannin submerged by fruit. Longer finish of tart dark berry fruit. First experience with this producer (entry level bottling at that), which was quite positive. (90 pts.)
  • 2014 Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Chinon (9/21/2018)
    Purchased off the wine list at Chateau de Beauvoir, Luynes. Dark garnet color. Beautiful nose of strawberry, plum, hyacinth, stone. Lively display of sweet red plum, mulberry, green leaf, and subtle meaty tones on the palate. Lovely acidity and firm tannin. Long finish of red berry, beef blood, and grip. Terrific showing tonight with all the stuffing needed for a long evolution. (92 pts.)
  • 2016 Domaine de la Butte Bourgueil Mi-pente - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Bourgueil (9/20/2018)
    Purchased off the wine list at Les Arpents, Amboise. Dark garnet-purple. Effortless nose pumping out billows of plum blossom, lavender, cassis, black currant, damp cellar, earth, and a bit of soy. Layers of pure, vivacious plum fruit cut with iodine and sweet green leaf in an almost joyous assemblage. Copious acidity bordering on spritzy with firm, fine-grained tannin. Longer finish of smoothly presented blackberry and fine soil. Amazing. (93 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker


Nice trip, Doug. Welcoming wine visits, wine tastings AND cycling. A great combo! Carpe diem. -Jim


You are right, it doesn’t get much better. Sancerre is one of the most beautiful villages I have stayed in. And the goat cheese…


Thanks for posting, it sounds like a wonderful trip!


It certainly was. Even last week the weather was sunny with highs in the 70’s and 80’s. Visiting the chateau was great and our proximity to the Loire river, troglodyte dwellings, and amazing food made for a great time. As many on this board can attest, the Loire Valley is vast, with hot spots for several grape varietals including Chenin blanc, Sauvignon blanc, Pinot noir, and Cab franc. It was fun to taste them all on one trip.