Browse Tag

chenin blanc

Happy crew

Champalou 2002 Vouvray “La Cuvée des Fondraux” (Vouvray) — Very advanced for a 2002, soft lanolin and lotion and fluff. A pillow of a wine. That Kermit Lynch thinks this is the Vouvray he should import is a bigger story than the wine itself, frankly. (4/16)

Formula Foreau 9

Foreau “Cuvée 2004-2005” Vouvray Brut (Loire) – Light, chalky, tentative, and lingering. Delicate yet not as weak as it seems. I quite enjoy this, though I’d be interested to see where it goes with more age. (7/12)

Putting the baden before the horst

Badenhorst “Secateurs” 2011 Chenin Blanc (Swartland) – 13.5%. Hybrid Rainier cherry and quinine with a bit of hay, atop a bed of gravel. The finish is a little scrape-y, and there’s very little acidity. Short. Kinda eh. (7/12)


Ken Forrester 2010 Chenin Blanc “Reserve” (Stellenbosch) – Burnished lemon, nectarine, peach, and even a bit of ripe papaya. This is the goofy fruitiness for which South African chenin is both praised and derided. But hold up. There’s wax and minerality, there’s good acidity, and I have precedent to assure the doubtful that, with some age, this turns into the waxed honeysuckle, pollen, and quinine that chenin shows at its best. No, I don’t think it will age like Vouvray, or Montlouis, or even a quarter as long as the better examples of either. But the easy appeal of the fruit hides a much more interesting wine, and in contrast to the grape’s banks-of-the-Loire profundity, this will reach its more mature realms much, much more quickly. (5/12)

Chaume E the way to go home

Baumard 2002 Quarts de Chaume (Loire) – Powerfully sweet, like liquid chenin candy, but with extra quartzage. Developing? Only in the notional sense; while this is far from as sweet as QdC can get, experience suggests that the wines are essentially immortal, or at least so on any human scale. It’s very, very good. Do I care that it may have been made with cryoextraction? (To be fair, I don’t know if this vintage was or not.) Yes, and indeed my enjoyment is proportionally tempered. (5/12)

Take it on the Chêne

Saumon 2009 Montlouis-sur-Loire Le Clos de Chêne (Loire) – I struggle with this wine, which seems surly and imbalanced…not in conception, necessarily, but as if it’s throwing a kind of tantrum. Waxed minerals, pollen, white petals, tenderness, but not one of these elements is willing to play with, or even look at, the others. I’ll wait for a bottle that’s had its nap, or is at least free of colic, before saying more. (11/11)

Plus vegetable?

Saumon 2010 Montlouis “Minérale +” (Loire) – A textural masterpiece, as if the terroir has been melted down into vinous form. The fruit’s not bad either, though as indicated it’s rather subsumed by its metal-jacketing and the iron-flecked liquid chalk flowing around it. Recognizably chenin blanc? Perhaps, but it’s a distant familial relationship; the genetic markers are there, but environment and upbringing have exerted the greater influence. (11/11)

The Soulez of the land

Soulez “Château de la Genaiserie” 1996 Coteaux du Layon Saint-Aubin La Roche “Sélection de Grains Nobles” (Loire) – 500 ml. I remember the fuss about wines of this nature back in the time it was released, with people taking sides on the question of whether or not a wine with ludicrous levels of residual sugar could actually be called a wine anymore. I never really saw the point of the argument, myself; I mean, if it’s made from grapes and there has been any yeast conversion of sugar to alcohol at all, how is it not wine? As with so many such debates, the issue is really just a bunch of pundits trying to externalize their personal preferences into independent existence. Which is, of course, utter nonsense. If you don’t like sweetness of this magnitude, just say so and move on.

And yes, this is powerfully, painfully, almost unimaginably sweet. Even after fifteen years, it’s primary, syrupy (though there’s perceivable acidity), and has fuck-all to say about chenin blanc or Coteaux du Layon other than that the appellation is entirely capable of producing wines like this. That said, isn’t that by itself a statement about the terroir and cépage? After all, I don’t think you can do this with cabernet franc up-river in Chinon. Do I like it? Well, it’s impressive. It’s sort of an absurdly-endowed porn star (either gender) sort of impressiveness, though. I have no idea how much age would be required to make it develop, but I suspect the cork will have failed long before that point has been reached. So really, there’s no particular reason not to drink it, but no particular reason to hurry towards it with a corkscrew either. It is, I suspect, a near-eternal monument to excess. (10/11)