December 28, 2005

Tasting 2002 Loire Reds

Another gathering of the loose tasting group of local industry people I fell into earlier this year. This month’s theme was 2002 Loire reds, all tasted blind, all made from the cabernet franc grape.

1. Darkest color, with a very ripe, oaky, smoked sausage and sweet raspberry aroma, some nice tobacco with time but clearly the most new world-esque wine of the bunch. Full and a little alcoholic on the palate, ripe sweet fruit flavors with some chalky tannin, shows the delicacy of the Loire but disjointed now, who knows if it will ever come around. This is the 2002 Domaine de la Butte Bourgueil Mi-Pente, the infamous Jacky Blot’s top-end bottling. Jacky, lay off the new barrels.

2. Medium dark ruby with a stony cherry aroma, some soil, pipe ash, and cranberry in there too. Tastes bright with cranberry flavors, herbs and earth but not much else, stony and drying on the finish, tastes like a decent lightweight Loire red but nothing more. No surprise, it’s the 2002 Marc Bredif Chinon, a low end bottling from a middling quality negociant.

3. Sweeter than number 2, but not as overt as number 1 with nice pie fruit, earth, and stone aromas. Silky and elegant on the palate, with ripe cherry and light raspberry flavors, earthy soil notes with bright acid, nice now and perhaps in the future. This is the 2002 Gauthier, Domaine du Bel Air, “Les Vingt lieux dits” Bourgueil.

4. Dark color, with an oaky sweet aroma, jammy fruit with a creamy note, odd smelling. Drying tannin, clearly the most tannic of the bunch, with stony cranberry flavors, hard wine, over pressed or macerated?, nice leafy after taste but in a weird place now. This is the 2002 Bernard Baudry Chinon La Croix Boisee.

5. Medium/dark color, with a farmy, bretty horse saddle aroma at first, opens with sweet berry fruit and meat, a little Rhonish, more complex still with time. Classic stony flavors, nice juicy red berry fruit with bright acid, young and promising but delicious now. This is the 2002 Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Grezeaux, [comment about this being mid-tier in price compared to the higher end La Croix Boisee moved to the "backroom"]. This was my favorite of the tasting and a decidedly non-mid-tier wine.

6. Medium/dark color, with a jammy, bit oaky ripe aroma, smoked sausage notes, initially a little too much but opens nicely. Cranberry and cherry flavors with a tangy profile, dry tannin, lean on the palate, clearly needs time but promising. By far the favorite of the group, though not quite mine. This is the 2002 Charles Joguet Chinon Clos la Dioterie.

We tasted the wines, then passed around a variety of cheeses that paired nicely, taming the sharp profile of some of the wines and creating harmony with the earthy smells and flavors. Loire reds are some of my favorite wines for their fragrance, though they aren’t typically for tasting on their own. Grill some meat, lay out some earthy cheeses and bread, mix in a spinach salad to keep your colon happy, and enjoy pretty much any of these wines. Though they don’t taste like either, think of Loire reds as Bordeaux meets Burgundy, when the stony, berry flavors of the Gironde meet the fragrance and elegance of the Cote d’Or.

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