TN: Lots of older ('95-'72) Loire Chenin and then some

In November a friend of mine noticed that one of the web shops we’ve ordered wine semi-frequently from suddenly carried a good selection of older Chenin Blancs from Loire Valley (Vouvray and Coteaux de l’Aubance), so he decided to order a bunch of them and arrange a tasting on these wines. In addition to these Chenins we had also two off-dry Cabernet d’Anjou rosé wines from the 70’s - and then a load of other, completely random wines that people wanted to open from their cellars after we had gone through the tasting!

To those who don’t know; François Pinon is a Vouvray producer who has been making wines since 1987 on their family estate that was founded in the late 18th century. Pinon’s production is virtually 100% Chenin: they make only one rosé (a blend of Côt and Grolleau), everything else is Chenin Blanc. The wines cover all the styles, ranging from bone-dry Champagne method sparkling wines to luscious botrytis wines and everything in-between. The wines have always been made traditionally, i.e. spontaneous fermentations in large oak vats and minimal manipulation at all phases of vinification. The winery started conversion to organic farming since 2003 and by 2007 most of the estate has been farmed fully organically. However, since the youngest Pinon wine was 1995, we didn’t have any organically farmed wines here.

The 50-hectare estate Domaine de Bablut is run by Christophe Daviau, a man whose family roots go even deeper in the Loire soil than Pinon’s, seeing how the Daviau family has been farming land around Anjou since 1546 - and focusing only on viticulture since the late 19th century. Domane de Bablut has been farming organically since 1996 (currently farming biodynamically with organic certification) and their wines are also made in a quite hands-off fashion, although I could not find more in-depth information on their vinification practices.

Here are the wines of the tasting:

And here are the wines we tasted afterwards:

1 Like

Pale, slightly (and surprisingly little) evolved yellow-green color. Light, somewhat sweet-toned and quite subtle nose of wizened golden apples, some white peach and a woolly hint of lanolin. The wine is quite light, somewhat off-dry and nuanced on the palate with flavors of ripe Golden Delicious apple, some white peach, light passion fruit notes, a little bit of golden currant, a hint of steely minerality and a touch of chalky bitterness. The wine is high in acidity with fine, quite sparse mousse. The finish is long, dry-ish and quite subtle with flavors of stony minerality, some pear, a little bit of star fruit, light woolly notes of lanolin and a hint of something metallic.

A quite good and surprisingly evolved bubbly Vouvray. Do not be fooled by the “Brut” part in the name: the “Tendre” part means that there is a somewhat noticeable streak of dosage here. All in all a pleasant effort, although not from the beginning to the end; for me, the taste was somewhat better than the slightly dull and woolly nose and much better than the somewhat metallic aftertaste. Enjoyable, but not great. (88 pts.)

Somewhat evolved and quite concentrated neon yellow-green color. Surprisingly restrained nose with sweetish yet very subtle aromas of beeswax, some honey, light fruit candy and gummi bear tones and a hint of overripe apple. The wine is quite full-bodied, gentle and medium-sweet on the palate with quite restrained and somewhat understated yet relatively youthful flavors of lemon marmalade, some poached pear, a little bit of sweet grapey fruit, light stony mineral tones, a hint of honeydew melon and a touch of apple sauce. Moderately high acidity. The finish is quite acid-driven and rather long with somewhat restrained flavors of lemon marmalade, some tangy salinity, a little bit of honeydew melon and a hint of sweet grapey fruit.

A nice, tasty and harmonious but also surprisingly restrained and underwhelming Vouvray. The overall feel is surprisingly youthful for the +30 yo age, but aromatically the wine is so reticent it really doesn’t give much - and that didn’t seem to change much or at all during the evening. I wonder if the wine is just sulfited to oblivion so that it ages at a glacial pace - but also feels very mute? Anyway, based on how youthful the wine is now, I can imagine it can continue to improve years, if not decades, more. No need to hurry. Priced according to its quality at 34,90€. (88 pts.)

Somewhat developed, medium-deep lemon-yellow color. Heavily buttery nose of diacetyl, followed by rich aromas of sweet lemon marmalade, some candied ginger, a little bit of beeswax and light mineral notes of wet stones. The wine is off-dry to medium-sweet on the palate with a medium body and quite precise flavors of sweet lemon marmalade and apple sauce, some diacetyl notes of melted butter, a little bit of steely minerality, light fruity notes of passion fruit and pineapple, mineral hints of chalky bitterness and tangy salinity and a nutty touch of slivered almonds. Good, bright acidity. The finish is long, off-dry and quite refreshing with flavors of ripe peach, some buttery diacetyl notes, a little bit of lemon marmalade, light tart notes of Granny Smith apple and a hint of tangy salinity.

A very nice, fresh and still surprisingly youthful Vouvray that slightly suffers from an odd streak of diacetyl, which lends the wine a quite prominent buttery quality - somewhat out-of-place in a Vouvray. Although I’m not a big fan of this buttery quality, it doesn’t dominate the wine, so the overall feel is nevertheless very pleasant and enjoyable. Most likely this is an off bottle and the diacetyl might be just the result of some rogue microbe. If the other bottles of this particular wine don’t show the same diacetyl character, I can imagine they are even better than this one. (90 pts.)

Surprisingly youthful, luminous greenish-yellow color. Evolved, somewhat reductive and slightly gaseous nose of SO2, followed by quite subtle aromas of wool, some subtle spice and a hint of sweet pear. Overall the nose feels quite muted due to the sulfidic character. The wine is medium-sweet on the palate with a somewhat closed and understated taste of sulfites, some white peach, a little bit of something metallic and light chalky mineral tones. The mouthfeel is silky and the high acidity creates a nice counterpoint to the residual sugar sweetness, but overall the wine is quite bland and tasteless, apart from the sweetness. The finish is somewhat sweet with understated flavors of apple jam, some developed waxy tones, a little bit of something metallic, light gaseous notes of SO2, a hint of wildhoney and a touch of woolly lanolin.

Meh. Rather closed and understated wine that seems to suffer from excessive use of SO2. The wine wasn’t skunky or anything, just had a slightly propellant gas-like quality to its nose and taste, muting all the fruit flavors. I guess the wine will keep for much longer, seeing how very little development it shows now, at almost 30 years of age, but it’s hard to assess whether the wine can actually improve from here, seeing how mute it is now. Not really a wine to wow anybody and not worth the price at 29,90€. (78 pts.)

  • 1992 Domaine de Bablut Coteaux de l’Aubance Moelleux - France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Coteaux de l’Aubance (6.11.2020)
    Made with partly botrytized (approx. 20%) Chenin grapes. Fermented partly, until either the fermentation halts naturally or it is halted with sulfites. Fermented and aged for 18 months in old oak barriques. 13% alcohol.

Luminous, pale bronze color. Sweet nose with complex aromas of honey, some saffron, a little bit of lemon marmalade, light grapey notes, a a hint of exotic spices and a touch of honeydew melon. The wine is medium-dry to slightly medium-sweet on the palate with a somewhat oily mouthfeel and medium body. Quite intense flavors of honey, saffron, some apple jam, a little bit exotic spice, light notes of honeysuckle, a hint of lemon marmalade and a touch of stony minerality. The high acidity lends great intensity and sense of structure to the wine. The finish is long, fresh and quite acid-driven with firm, medium-sweet flavors of lemon marmalade, some tangy salinity, a little bit of honeydew melon, light notes of saffron and a hint of beeswax.

A fresh, vibrant and harmonious Chenin that is still remarkably youthful for a moelleux almost 30 years old. Shows terrific sense of balance between the sweetness, the relatively intense fruit and the high acidity. Among the best wines in our tasting of Loire Moelleux 1993-1972. (93 pts.)

Luminous, remarkably youthful neon green color with a vibrant golden yellow core. At first everybody thought this wine was corked by its nose, but further sniffing revealed that the nose was just odd, dull and unpleasant, but not particularly corked - although very similar to TCA. Aromas of damp wool, blue cheese, some unripe aromatic herbs, a little bit of stone dust, a vegetal hint of unripe green apple and a touch of root vegetable. The wine is dull, restrained and lively yet not pleasant on the palate with a medium body and somewhat unclean flavors of vegetal greenness, blue cheese, some lemony citrus fruit, a little bit of wizened yellow fruit, light lactic notes of melted butter and Brie rind and a hint of earth. Medium in sweetness with a high acidity. The finish is short, dull and somewhat musty with flavors of blue cheese, some white pepper, light lactic notes of creaminess and Brie cheese, a hint of chalky bitterness and a touch of unripe green apple.

This feels like a typical example of a wine from the cool, rainy and miserable 1984 vintage: this year produced a poor harvest of grapes that were mouldy and most were not even ripe, but the producers still tried to do something with the fruit they had. Well, this is the result. The wine is dull, musty and vaguely unripe despite the richness from the residual sugar. Although this is not corked, it smells and tastes surprisingly much like a corked wine. Normally I wouldn’t rate a wine like this, but since most likely all the bottles are going to be similar to this, I think it warrants a score - as a warning, if for nothing else. Can’t say this really was worth the price at 17,50€. Avoid. (63 pts.)

Luminous, exceptionally youthful pale neon-green color. Sweet, waxy and rather attractive nose with aromas of beeswax, some savory spices, a little bit of woolly lanolin, light sweetish notes of ripe apple and wizened stone fruits, a hint of honeysuckle and a touch of citrus rind. The fruit seems to faded a little bit over the years, but it has been replaced by more waxy and honeyed tertiary tones. The wine is crisp, lively and electric on the palate with a medium body and off-dry to almost medium-sweet flavors of tart green apples and key lime, woolly lanolin, some honeyed sweet tones, a little bit of steely minerality, light bitter notes of apple peel, a hint of honeysuckle and a gaseous touch of SO2. The wine is remarkably high acidity, lending it wonderful sense of intensity, focus and structure. The finish is crisp, long and slightly sweet with zippy flavors of tangy salinity, sharp citrus fruit notes of grapefruit and lemon, some apple peel bitterness, a little bit of honeyed richness, light steely mineral tones and a hint of wool.

A wonderfully evolved yet still surprisingly youthful Chenin with a bit of sweetness. I guess the wine might actually have quite a bit of residual sugar, but the bracing acidity keeps the sweetness wonderfully at bay while lending terrific freshness and sense of structure to the wine at the same time. There seems to be a bit of SO2 cutting through the fruit, making the wine end on a slightly acrid, gaseous note - and taking a bit of a toll on the pleasure. Otherwise this is a very lovely drop indeed. Although drinking quite well right now (at +35 years of age!) the wine still feels like it is built for the long haul. Terrific stuff. (93 pts.)

Luminous and relatively youthful lime-green color with a slightly golden-yellow core. Fragrant, sweetish and somewhat herbal nose with aromas of grapefruit marmalade, some sappy coriander tones, a little bit of fresh green apple, light notes of beeswax, a fragrant hint of tarragon and a mineral touch of chalk dust. The wine is lively, medium-bodied and acid-driven on the palate with medium-sweet flavors of tart lemony citrus fruits, some chalky mineral tones, a little bit of apple peel bitterness, light pithy notes of grapefruit, a hint of something metallic and a touch of cool, incisive steely minerality. Despite the crunchy and mineral character, there is a somewhat dull, slightly musty note to the taste. The high acidity lends good sense of structure to the wine and offsets most of the sweetness. The finish is medium-long with medium-sweet flavors of lemony citrus fruits, some steely mineral tones, a little bit of woolly lanolin, light nuances of something metallic and a sweet hint of apple jam.

A nice, cool and still surprisingly youthful Chenin. Has a somewhat smutty overall feel to it, so despite the good balance between the structure and acidity, the flavors really don’t get an opportunity to shine. This is quite good, but nothing remarkable nor memorable. Considering the very youthful feel of the wine, it might continue to improve in a cellar, but I doubt it will ever become anything great. (82 pts.)

Slightly hazy, medium-deep golden yellow color. Sweetish, somewhat evolved and quite waxy nose with aromas of wizened golden apples, some woolly tones, a little bit of woolly funk and a hint of hot resin. The wine is quite sweet, lively and very acid-driven on the palate with a medium body and moderately evolved flavors of beeswax, some oxidative nuttiness, a little bit of exotic spices, light metallic notes of rusty iron, a hint of apple peel bitterness and a touch of cool stony minerality. Overall the fruit department feels like it has thinned out a bit with age, but the bracing acidity lends great sense of intensity, structure and energy to the wine, so it never comes across as dilute. The finish is quite long and moderately acid-driven with crisp, off-dry flavors of tart green apples, some evolved nutty tones, a little bit of bruised pear, light metallic notes of cast iron and a hint of tangy salinity.

A very fresh, crisp and precise Chenin Blanc where the sweetness and racy acidity play against each other wonderfully. This is also the first Domaine de Bablut Chenin I’ve tasted that actually is showing signs of age - all the other (younger) vintages I’ve tasted have come across as exceptionally young for their age. All in all, this is good, but still not great - the wine certainly shows terrific balance, intensity and complexity, but the overall impression is still somewhat thin and underwhelming; furthermore, the somewhat metallic taste takes also a small toll on the score. Nevertheless, this is a tasty and enjoyable wine all the same. (87 pts.)

  • 1979 Domaine de Bablut Cabernet d’Anjou - France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Cabernet d’Anjou (6.11.2020)
    Luminous, pale reddish-orange color with a bronze rim. Very evolved and quite vegetal nose with aromas of bell pepper, some stewed chili peppers, a little bit of cooked rose hip, light smoky tones, crunchy hints of cranberries and green apples and an earthy touch of dirt. The wine is fresh, lively and crunchy on the palate with light-to-medium body and off-dry flavors of bell pepper, some cranberry sauce, a little bit of cooked rose hips, light metallic notes, sweet hints of ripe raspberry and wizened forest fruits and a touch of tart lingonberry. Structured, racy acidity. The acid-driven finish is quite lean, medium-to-moderately long and very complex with semi-dry flavors of cranberry juice, some sour cherry bitterness, light vegetal notes of bell pepper, a little bit of tart lingonberry, a sappy hint of raspberry leaf tea and a touch of earth.

A nicely evolved and positively tough, almost austere, yet quite balanced off-dry rosé. The wine is obviously very Cabernet with its pronounced bell pepper tones, but it also has lots of aged complexity. However, it is remarkable how alive the wine is, considering it is a +40 yo rosé wine! It might not be the most complex or impressive rosé wine out there, but nevertheless a terrific wine for what it is - an inexpensive, decades-old, off-dry rosé. Definitely not for people who can’t stand vegetal flavors in their wines, though. Quite good value at 16,90€. (88 pts.)

  • 1974 Domaine de Bablut Cabernet d’Anjou - France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Cabernet d’Anjou (6.11.2020)
    Pale, translucent and quite developed reddish-orange rose hip color with a pale brick-orange rim. The nose feels evolved, quite sweet and slightly waxy with complex aromas of wizened red fruits, some beeswax, light nuances of stewed rose hips, a little bit of leathery funk, a hint of raspberry jam and a sweet, lifted touch of VA. The wine is off-dry, somewhat oily and moderately full-bodied on the palate with complex tertiary flavors of honeydew melon, some cranberry sauce, a little bit of bittersweet lingonberry jam, light bitter notes of apple peel, a hint of leathery funk and a tertiary touch of caramel or toffee. The high acidity lends good freshness to the wine and at the same time masks away most of the sweetness from the residual sugar, making it impossible to say how much there is residual sugar in the wine. The finish is long, complex and very nuanced with developed, complex flavors of cranberry marmalade, some ripe strawberry, light vegetal notes of cooked bell pepper, a little bit of herbal bitterness, a hint of sour cherry and a touch of leathery funk.

A distinctive, complex and remarkably vibrant rosé that comes across as quite evolved, but not nearly as developed as one would imagine a rosé almost 50 years old would be. There’s wonderful harmony between the rich, off-dry fruit flavors, balanced acidity and tertiary non-fruit flavors. This is perhaps a rather weird wine by modern standards, but still offers quite a bit of pleasure for what it is - and outstanding value at 16,90€. (91 pts.)

  • 1995 François Pinon Vouvray Cuvée Botrytis Limited Release - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray (6.11.2020)
    Made with botrytized Chenin grapes from very old wines. Fermented spontaneously with indigenous yeasts, aged in old tonneaux. Bottled in the spring after a light filtration. 9,5% alcohol.

Developed and quite concentrated coppery color. Impressively rich, complex and perfumed nose with sweet aromas of exotic flowers and honeydew melon, some dank, herbal aromas of pot and tarragon, a little bit of caramel, light spicy notes of saffron and a hint of cloudberry jam. Lots of things going on here. The wine is sweet, full-bodied and quite concentrated on the palate with a somewhat sticky mouthfeel and bold flavors of apricots, some honey, light saffron notes, a little bit of ripe red apple, a hint of steely minerality and a touch of dried nectarine. Despite its quite big body and noticeable sweetness, the wine never once comes across as fat or blowzy, thanks to the remarkably high acidity that keeps the overall feel wonderfully in balance. The finish is sweet, juicy and broad yet firm with long flavors of honey, apple jam, some wizened nectarine tones, a little bit of saffron, light steely mineral tones, a hint of dried tropical fruits and a gaseous struck-match note of SO2.

A beautiful, complex and harmonious sweet Vouvray that is drinking wonderfully at the moment, but at the same time shows tremendous aging potential for many more decades. Although the wine is starting to show the first signs of evolution - saffron and dried fruits - the overall feel is still youthful, and it feels as though there is still quite a big dose of SO2 that is yet to blow off completely. Most likely this will continue to evolve for half a century or more. Fine and enjoyable stuff with a lot of upside to it. Highly recommended. (94 pts.)

  • 1990 Domaine de Bablut Coteaux de l’Aubance Vin Noble - France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Coteaux de l’Aubance (6.11.2020)
    Made with completely botrytized fruit harvested in multiple tries. The wines are fermented in oak barriques until the fermentation halts spontaneously or the fermentation is halted with an addition of SO2. 12% alcohol.

Luminous, evolved pale reddish-coppery color. Savory, evolved nose with complex aromas of chopped nuts, some hay, light meaty notes of caramelized pork, light wildhoney tones, a hint of pea soup and a touch of smoke. Overall the nose feels a bit weird and more savory than sweet. The wine is full-bodied, concentrated and rich on the palate with sweet, developed flavors of honey, caramel, some maple syrup, light roasted walnut tones, a little bit of baked apple, a hint of baked apple and a touch of smoke. The high acidity lends great sense of balance to the wine, keeping the overall taste surprisingly fresh despite the noticeable sweetness. The finish is long, sweet and harmonious with complex, evolved flavors of caramel, maple syrup, some chopped nuts, a little bit of orange marmalade, light honeydew melon tones, savory hints of exotic spices and a touch of bruised apple.

A tasty, complex and evolved sweet Anjou at its peak. The nose was - especially upon opening - rather weird and atypically meaty, but started to get its game together with some air. However, the wine was very enjoyable on the palate right from the get-go. Great combination of freshness, concentration and developed complexity. Overall the wine tastes quite mature and doesn’t really hold much promise for future development, yet I doubt the wine is going to fall apart anytime soon. Enjoyable stuff; drink now or within the next decade or so. (92 pts.)

  • 1989 Domaine de Bablut Coteaux de l’Aubance Vin Noble - France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Coteaux de l’Aubance (6.11.2020)
    Made with completely botrytized fruit harvested in multiple tries. The wines are fermented in oak barriques until the fermentation halts spontaneously or the fermentation is halted with an addition of SO2. 14% alcohol.

Developed and rather concentrated coppery-red color. Heady, seductive bouquet with sweet, concentrated aromas of juicy canned fruits and wizened apricots, some rowanberry marmalade, light floral notes of orchard flowers, a little bit of poached pear, a hint of apple jam and an evolved, spicy touch of saffron. The wine is oily, very sweet and noticeably concentrated on the palate with very sweet flavors of dried apricots, honey, some canned pineapple, light spicy notes of saffron, a little bit of stony minerality, a hint of overripe nectarine and a touch of burnt sugar bitterness. The mouthfeel is somewhat sticky, but the high acidity keeps the wine from coming across as heavy or lacking freshness. The finish is juicy, complex and very intense with concentrated and remarkably long flavors of maple syrup, some honey, light canned pineapple tones, a little bit of dried peach, a hint of burnt sugar bitterness and a touch of saffron.

An outstanding, remarkably complex and utterly delicious Chenin with tons of depth and intensity. The wine doesn’t feel like it is young anymore, nor does it feel particularly mature either. 1989 really seems to be one of the greatest Loire vintages in the past half a century, seeing how consistently exceptional the wines from this vintage seem to be. This is drinking really well at the moment, but it will at least keep, if not improve, over the next few decades. Not particularly cheap at 55€, but certainly delivers for the price. (95 pts.)

This concluded our official tasting part, after which more random wines started flowing in. All poured blind, of course. Some were easier to guess, some nigh impossible. Fun nevertheless.

Moderately deep golden yellow color. Aged, complex nose of sweet nuttiness, some browned butter, a little bit of honeysuckle, light cooked cream tones and a fruity hint of wizened apricots. It’s quite obvious the wine is rather old. It feels dry, medium-bodied and quite oily on the palate with complex, savory flavors of butter and toasted bread, some hay, a little bit of dried stone fruit, light savory notes of old wood, a hint of stony minerality and a touch of honeyed richness. The bright, high acidity lends good sense of structure to the wine. The finish is long, ripe and complex with tertiary flavors of peanut butter, some hay, a little bit of honeyed sweetness, light baked apple tones, a hint of creamy richness and a touch of chopped hazelnuts.

A very wonderfully aged and quite tertiary white Rhône that feels very developed but not too old. My guess was an older white Burgundy with approximately 20 years of age. The wine was a bit older than that and from more southerly latitudes. All in all, a fine effort that shows how even these less esteemed Northern Rhône appellations can produce wines of remarkable aging potential. At its peak now - and most likely has been there for some time - so I doubt the wine will benefit from any further cellaring. Drink before the fruit fades away. Terrific stuff. (94 pts.)

Pale and rather neutral whitish-green color. Clean, playful and very primary nose with aromas of sour apple candies, chopped herbs, some tart green apple, light crunchy notes of fresh white fruits, a little bit of gummi bear, a hint of star fruit and a sweeter touch of pineapple. Lots of different fruits here. The wine is ripe, juicy and lively on the palate with dry-to-dry-ish primary flavors of white peach, candied notes of gummi bears, some crunchy star fruit, light sweeter notes of apple jam, a little bit of stony minerality and a hint of herbal spice. At first the wine is fresh and precise, but with air the wine turns fuller-bodied and slightly softer and sweeter in taste. Balanced, high acidity. The finish is juicy, ripe and slightly sweet-toned with youthful primary flavors of white peach, some honeyed richness, light apple jam tones, a little bit of stony minerality and candied hints of gummi bear and fruit jellies.

A tasty but also very youthful and super-primary white wine that hasn’t gotten its game together yet, making the wine taste something not unlike a super young Pinot Grigio. It is enjoyable already, but the explosively fruity and somewhat candied primary flavors make the wine lack nuance and character. Most likely the wine calls for at least a few years in a cellar, just to tone down the primary flavors; most likely the wine will continue to improve for another 6-8 years or more. Great value at 12,20€. (87 pts.)

  • 2018 Ota Ševčík Veltlínské zelené Orange - Czech Republic, Moravia, Velkopavlovická, Bořetice (6.11.2020)
    A skin-contact Veltlínské zelené aka. Grüner Veltliner, macerated with the skins for approximately 10 days. 12,5% alcohol. Tasted blind.

Hazy to slightly cloudy yellow-green color. Very fragrant nose with a pronounced streak of quince followed by perfumed aromas of apple blossom, some fragrant herbs, a little bit of gummi bear, light notes of honeysuckle, a hint of cantaloupe and a touch of ripe golden apple. The wine is dry, medium-bodied and slightly thin on the palate with flavors of quince, some apple peel bitterness, light star fruit tones, a little bit of white pepper, green hints of sappy herbal character and a sweeter touch of cantaloupe. The structure relies mostly on the high acidity, not on the subtle, easy tannins. The finish is fresh, quite long and slightly vegetal with somewhat green flavors of sappy herbal spice, some apple peel bitterness, a little bit of crunchy star fruit, light pithy notes of pomelo and a vegetal hint of grassy greenness.

An orange wine that is aromatically very attractive, but which disappoints a little on the palate, coming across as somewhat thin, lean and slightly green. This is not aggressively green or vegetal, but definitely in the low end of ripeness. Good potential here, but not really hitting the bullseye yet. However, seeing this wine is very naturally made, I find it enjoyable that the wine itself isn’t particularly natty in any way, coming across as clean and well-made. While not the most interesting wine for now, these Ota Ševčík wines certainly show good potential for future. (86 pts.)

  • 2018 Bodega Naranjuez (Antonio Vilchez Valenzuela) BRUTAL!!! Rosado - Spain, Vino de Mesa (6.11.2020)
    A rosé from Granada, Andalucía, made with Garnacha, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Tempranillo. Macerated with the skins for a day. 14% alcohol and zero added sulfites. A special bottling made for the Bar Brutal in Barcelona. Tasted blind.

Hazy, moderately translucent Burgundy red with a pale pink rim. Crunchy and somewhat wild nose with aromas of ripe blackberries, some fresh cranberries, light high-toned notes of VA, a little bit of sappy red fruit, brambly hints of raspberries and a touch of redcurrant. Fresh and fruity overall impression. The wine is lively, fresh and medium-bodied on the palate with crunchy flavors of cranberries and tart lingonberries, some sour cherries, a little bit of sharp, acetic VA, light brambly notes of raspberries, ahint of stony minerality and a touch of smoke. The structure relies more on both bracing acidity and firm, moderately grippy tannins. The finish is funky, tart and somewhat grippy with some alcohol heat and quite wild flavors of tart lingonberries and cranberries, some phenolic smoke, light notes of leathery funk, a little bit of brambly raspberry, a hint of sour cherry bitterness and, finally, a subtly unclean touch of understated mousiness.

A rather good and enjoyably fresh little wine that nobody in the tasting guessed correctly as rosé wine - it was just too red and tannic for such. The overall feel could’ve been very nice otherwise, but the somewhat acetic streak of VA distracts from the pleasure a bit, and the subtly mousy note of THP in the aftertaste takes its own toll on the score. There’s a lot of good in this wine, but I think that with a tiny amount of SO2 during the vinification would’ve made this much better; now it suffers from its sauvage off-flavors and certainly isn’t as enjoyable as it could’ve been. (83 pts.)

  • 2016 Bourgeois-Diaz Coteaux Champenois BD’LP Les Pinots - France, Champagne, Coteaux Champenois (6.11.2020)
    A blend of Pinot Meunier (60%) and Pinot Noir (40%). Fermented spontaneously in stainless steel, aged first for 3 months in stainless steel tanks, then racked into 500-liter amphorae to age for further 5 months. Bottled on 18th of April 2017. 12% alcohol. Total production 1530 bottles. Tasted blind.

Pale, translucent and still remarkably youthful raspberry red color. At first the nose is quite reductive, very closed and slightly skunky, so it is left to open in a decanter for more than an hour. After some aeration the nose starts to exhibit aromas of fresh apples, some crunchy redcurrants, light sappy herbal tones, a little bit of high-toned sauvage character and a rubbery hint of reduction. The wine is dry, light-bodied and crunchy on the palate with quite austere flavors of tart lingonberries, sappy red fruits, some fresh cranberries, light stony mineral tones and a hint of herbal spice. Overall the wine feels slightly closed and reductive. The structure relies almost solely on the bracing acidity, not on the light and easy tannins. The finish is lively, crunchy and quite tart with crunchy flavors of lingonberries, some sour cherries, a little bit of sappy herbal spice, a hint of spicy red apple and a touch of stony minerality.

A lovely, crunchy and tasty Coteaux Champenois Rouge that is all too young at the moment. The wine suffers quite greatly from reduction, and - in all likelihood - will continue to do so for many more years. Even couple of hours in a decanter didn’t do much, so if you have a bottle of this and decide on opening it, remember to open it in advance and check out the condition; if the wine feels reductive, it definitely needs a few hours in a decanter before starting to really open. All in all, good and tasty stuff for people who enjoy thin, lean and sappy wines (like me!), but screams for further aging. Return to this in 10 years. Priced according to its quality at 26€. (88 pts.)

  • 2017 Domaine du Coulet (Matthieu Barret) Côtes du Rhône No Wine’s Land - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône (6.11.2020)
    100% Syrah from Les Arlettes, the small strip between Saint-Joseph and Cornas that falls under Côtes du Rhône appellation. Fermented in stainless steel, macerated with the skins for 2-3 weeks, aged for 13 months in concrete tanks, bottled unfined and unfiltered. 13% alcohol, annual production 12,000 bottles. Tasted blind.

Saturated, slightly translucent purplish dark red color. Open, very sweet and primary nose with vibrant aromas of raspberry candies, some boysenberries, light mineral notes of stone dust, a little bit of crushed peppercorn and a hint of licorice. The wine is clean, fresh and lively on the palate with a medium body and linear flavors of raspberry candies, some sweet boysenberries, light peppery tones, a little bit of sappy herbal spice and a floral hint of violets. The firm structure relies more on the high acidity than on the light and gently grippy medium tannins. The finish is bright, clean and fresh with long flavors of ripe boysenberries, some tart lingonberries, a little bit of peppery spice, light raspberry candy tones, a floral hint of violets and a ferrous touch of blood.

A nice, clean and eminently drinkable little Syrah. And yes, my first guess was a Northern Rhône Syrah, but I couldn’t pin-point the appellation (due to the wine being from Côtes du Rhône, which is lesser known in the Northern Rhône). My first guess was Crozes-Hermitage and second guess was Saint-Joseph, so I guess that gives some idea how the wine is like. It is wonderfully fresh, crunchy and true to both the variety and the region, but it is obviously made in a more straight-forward, easy-drinking style, i.e. this is not a big and impressive Syrah despite the vineyards being right next to Cornas. However, despite being a fresh bistro drinker, the wine is still very primary and definitely could benefit from a few years in a cellar, so that the fruit could lose its most primary, candied edge. All in all, a lovely little drop that has potential to reach the low 90’s with some aging. (89 pts.)

  • 2018 Mai et Kenji Hodgson Vin de France La Grande Pièce - France, Vin de France (6.11.2020)
    According to some sources, this is a 100% Grolleau, according to others, a blend of Grolleau (2/3) and Gamay (1/3). Vinified in a hands-off approach without any sulfites. 11,5% alcohol.

Youthful, luminous and quite translucent purplish-red color. Wild and natty nose with expressive aromas of sweet dark berries, some acetic notes of VA, light lifted floral notes, a little bit of boysenberry, a funky hint of brett and a touch of crushed sesame seeds, suggesting mousiness. The wine is crunchy, light-bodied and quite acid-driven on the palate with flavors of tart lingonberries, rough acetic VA, a little bit of brambly raspberry, light sappy herbal tones, a hint of sour cherry bitterness and a touch of bretty funk. The structure relies more on the high acidity than on the gently grippy medium tannins. The finish is dry, lightly grippy and quite tart with flavors of lingonberries, some sour cherries, a little bit of acetic roughness, light funky notes of brett, a sappy hint of green herbs and an unclean touch of mousiness that slowly grows in intensity as the wine stays open.

A quite simple and generic natural wine that is mainly just natty, funky and straightforward. Upon opening the wine is still somewhat drinkable, albeit not particularly enjoyable, but quite quickly the mousiness runs amok and makes the wine completely undrinkable. My score reflects how the wine was at its best, before it falls apart. At 20€, this is waste of money. (71 pts.)

Fully opaque, saturated blackish-red color with a streak of purple. Very sweet, opulent and quite modern nose with voluptuous aromas of dominant Bourbon oak, vanilla, caramel, some plum liqueur, light sweet notes of dried dark berries, a little bit of wizened figs, a hint of boysenberry jam and a touch of raisin. Feels quite overdone by any standards. The wine is very full-bodied, lush and extracted on the palate with powerful, polished flavors of ripe dark forest fruits, peppery spice, vanilla oak, some wizened dark plums, a little bit of jammy boysenberry, light raisiny tones, a Bourbon hint of caramelized wood and a touch of butterscotch. The overall feel is very muscular and structured with its rather acidity and ridiculously extracted, ample and heavily grippy tannins. The extremely lengthy finish is very Bourbon-like with all the American oak notes of caramel, vanilla and cloves along with some phenolic peppery tones and fruitier nuances, of raisins, dried dates, hints of boysenberry jam and a touch of earth.

A perfect example of extremely overdone Portuguese red. As a blend of Baga and Touriga Nacional, this could’ve been a great example of a characterful, structure-driven Portuguese winemaking, but all the flavors are drenched in heavily overdone American oak tones and the wine both smell and tastes more like Bourbon than wine. Furthermore, as both Baga and Touriga Nacional are very tannic varieties to boot, the winemaking should be quite gentle as not to extract too much tannins. This wine, on the other hand, feels very much over-extracted, so it is not just lush and concentrated, but also aggressively tannic as well. So, in essence, this is drinking like sweet Bourbon-fruit jam concoction which is flavored with a healthy dose of fruit tannins. In other words, this is not an enjoyable wine by any means. It might get better with 10-20 years of cellaring - in the hopes that the tannins start to resolve and the massively overdone oak integrates with the super-ripe, heavily extracted fruit - but I wouldn’t hold my breath. An interesting wine to taste for sure, but not really recommended. (79 pts.)

Very dark, remarkably youthful and still slightly purple blackish-red color that permits a little bit of light through. The nose feels sweet, concentrated and very ripe with fruit-forward aromas of blackberry jam, some bilberries, light sour cherry tones, a little bit of primary raspberry candy character, a lactic hint of almost buttery MLF character (I wonder if there’s a hint of diacetyl here) and a touch of ink. All in all, the nose feels very lush, powerful and juicy. The wine is dry, medium-bodied and very ripe on the palate with intense, noticeably concentrated flavors of blackberries and bilberries, some sour cherry bitterness, a little bit of strawberry jam, light plummy tones, a little bit of earth, sweet hints of assorted forest fruits and a touch of savory spices. While the structure relies more on the racy acidity than on the somewhat grippy medium tannins, I must still point out that the wine feels surprisingly tannic for a Barbera. The finish is lively, acid-driven and moderately grippy with intense flavors of sour cherries, tart cranberries, some fresh blueberries, light plummy tones, a little bit of savory wood spice and a hint of earth.

The saturated purple color, very high acidity and blueberry tones made me immediately think of Barbera, so got that right almost immediately. This is a very impressive powerhouse of a Barbera that feels quite big, concentrated and muscular, but not one bit overdone. The overall feel here is that of a classic, savory Piedmontese red, not a glossy, modernist blockbuster. Furthermore, even though clocking at 8 years already, the wine is exceptionally youthful for its age, coming across very juicy and fruit-forward - even primary at times - making it feel like this could really benefit from further aging. Seeing how very little the wine has evolved over all these years, I can imagine this will continue to improve for a few decades more. Although the super-fruity and primary style did not wow me that much, the stern and muscular structure did. I’m not the biggest fan of Barbera, but this was quite something. Pretty outstanding now and most likely will be even better in the future. Priced according to its quality at 39€. (92 pts.)

  • NV Cascina Zoina Vino da Tavola - Italy, Piedmont, Vino da Tavola (6.11.2020)
    The front label doesn’t really tell much. This wine is L17/10, i.e. it is a multi-vintage blend of Nebbiolo from 2015 (20%), Barbera from 2015 (20%), Vespolina from 2015 (20%), Nebbiolo from 2008 (20%), Barbera from 2008 (15%) and Vespolina from 2007 (5%). 12,5% alcohol. Tasted blind.

Quite translucent and somewhat evolved pomegranate color with a pale, almost colorless rim. Somewhat developed yet still rather youthful and slightly funky nose with aromas of fresh, savory cherries, some phenolic smoky tones, a little bit of lambic-like leather and farmhouse funk, light earthy tones, a sweeter hint of ripe dark plum and a touch of wizened blackberry. Thew wine is dry, angular and slightly sauvage on the palate with a medium body and savory flavors of sour cherries, some leathery notes of brett, light sweet notes of wild strawberries and arctic bramble, a little bit of barnyard funk, a slightly rough hint of acetic VA and a smoky touch of phenolic spice. The overall feel is quite structured with the high acidity and quite assertive, grippy tannins. The finish is long, dry and tannic with firm flavors of sour cherry bitterness, tart cranberry, some phenolic spice, a little bit of wild strawberry, light bretty notes of barnyardy funk and an acetic hint of balsamic VA.

A characterful, tasty and funky Piedmontese red which doesn’t really come across as “natty”, just very rustic and unpolished. The bretty notes are certainly there, but they don’t bother me much, as they fit the somewhat angular, down-to-earth character of the wine. However, the VA here is getting a bit out of hand, lending the wine a somewhat acetic edge, which I’m not a fan of. This is a good and interesting wine with a good combination of fresh, savory fruit and more complex and evolved sweeter undertones, but the overall feel does suffer a bit from the VA. An enjoyable effort, but definitely not a bullseye. (90 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

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Jesus Otto, every time you post one of these its like being in on the adventure. Love your notes, the history, and the context. I learn something new every time.

Well done and Thank You!

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Thanks! It’s my pleasure to share these observations with people who understand and can appreciate them, even if you aren’t tasting the wines yourselves!

If you ever stumble upon it, the 1996 F. Piñon 1er Trie is spectacular. Thanks for the notes.

Fun lineup of wines. Would love to some Bablut red wines here in the states. My understanding is that their cab sauvignon is a well done cool climate red and the richer cab franc - cab sauvignon blend is often a beautiful wine. I keep looking but these are rare wines to find here.

Just chiming in to agree with the rest, what a fascinating range of flavors for just one night!

Is this Piñon the Spanish cousin of François Pinon? neener Sorry, couldn’t resist. :smiley: If the 1996 is nearly as stunning as the 1995 Cuvée Botrytis, I’ll definitely keep my peepers peeled!

Never had any Bablut reds, just these whites and rosés. But agree, would definitely love to sample them myself as well. After all, Loire reds that I don’t love are very few and far between!

Thanks for the detailed notes!

On Pinon I believe Francois took over in 1987 but the family has been bottling Vouvray much longer. I’ve had wines from 1971 and IIRC 1959. I’ll try to dig up more info.

Your bottle of Pinon 1989 Moelleux seems a bit strange. It should be singing in principle although I haven’t had it in a few years. How much air did it have?

I’ve never heard of Bablut, which could mean they don’t have and haven’t had a US importer. Will keep an eye out now.

Yes, it was a 1959 we had at the Coad/Dressner birthday party back in 2001.

Yes indeed. I might’ve been unclear in my introduction, as the winery has been producing wine under François’s name since 1987, but they’ve been farming vines for more than 200 years and producing wines long before François took over. However, it remains unclear to me under which name they produced before François’s time.

Your bottle of Pinon 1989 Moelleux seems a bit strange. It should be singing in principle although I haven’t had it in a few years. How much air did it have?

Can’t remember the exact details because I didn’t arrange the tasting myself, but IIRC, all the wines were double-decanted approximately an hour prior to the tasting. However, I checked out the wine after the tasting was over (i.e. more than 6-7 hours later) and the wine hadn’t budged one bit.

I have enjoyed reds from Domaine Richou from the Anjou-Village Brissac region. Their Anjou Rouge 4-Chemins and Anjou-Villages Brissac are very nice CF-CS wines at a sweet price. The Bablut Petra Alba and Rocca Nigra wines from Anjou-Villages Brissac are supposed to be even better.

Tonight’s sad news is that Francois Pinon apparently passed away yesterday or today. I don’t know any details yet.

Mieleton kirjoitus, kiitos!

This was an amazing read, thank you!

Omaksi iloksenihan minä näitä. [cheers.gif]

You just saved me 20 bucks :slight_smile:

Care to elaborate? :smiley: Hesitated on pulling the trigger?

Hehe. I have been looking af Mai et Kenji’s wines for some time. Now i am just getting a Chenin from them i guess.

Ooph. Based on those two red wines I’ve tasted I definitely can’t recommend those. :smiley:

But please do report on the white! I want to know if they can actually create anything drinkable.

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