Tasting Notes: Wines of the Loire, presented by Trevor Elliott AWE, 25 April 2018

One of more local presenters, Trevor lives in Gosport and is an expert on wines of Madeira, on which he has written a definitive book. A retired head-teacher, he has had a long-term interest in wine and the wine business and we were lucky to have him present an eclectic and somewhat unusual  look at wines from and around the Loire Valley. This relatively cool region of France probably has more variation in its wines than anywhere else in the country. It has nearly 70 Appellations along the river, stretching almost to the Northern Rhone.

2014 Crémant de Loire Brut, The Society’s Celebration, Gratien and Meyer  (Wine Society £12.95) Predominantly Chardonnay with a little Pinot Noir, Chenin Blanc  and Cabernet Franc, and slightly pink, this sparkler was made by the traditional method for the Wine Society.  Fragrant nose, fruity rather than biscuit, and with a light mineral finish, a good and typical “non-Champagne”. Very good value.

2014 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Le Clos du Château L’Oisinière  (Wine Society £12.95)  Not the zing I expected from a typical Muscadet,  with surprising bottle-age, not a “sur lies”  and, for me, not a lot of structure either.  Made from very old vines and only in better vintages.  More complex than the usual quaffing wine, some liked the style, some did not – for me, not sure.

2016 Menetou-Salon, Morogues, Domaine Pellė  (Wine Society £13.50) For a varietal Sauvignon Blanc, very little of the typical nettle/gooseberry. From a very ripe Season, and a big producer, this wine has a rich apricot and citrus peel-like palate and plenty of acidity and minerality – at 14% alcohol, some thought it a bit unbalanced, a very full taste.

2014 Saumur Champigny, Clos de Cordeliers, Domaine Ratron  (Wine Society £10.50) This one divided us! Dark red with good structure and subtle, slightly dusty tannins, some thought it had a poor nose and a rather thin palate. I liked it but it had some of the Cabernet Franc characteristics (touch “green and stalky”) that not everyone likes. Not the best CF we’ve ever tasted.

2016 Sancerre, Les Champs Clos Caves des Vins  (Sainsburys, £13.00) Trading a little on the name, this 100% Pinot Noir lacked the clear PN characteristics I would have expected, nevertheless a pleasant somewhat rustic and fruity wine, maybe a bit overpriced for the style, which had more the character of a local wine. Noticeable tannins and very dark red, maybe over-extracted? Might be better served chilled.

2016 Touraine, “Le Bėcassou”, Domaine de Echardières, Luc Poullain  (Wine Society £8.95) For a mainly Gamay-based wine (70% Gamay, 15% Cabernet Franc, 15% Malbec), a very dark colour. A muted nose (no Beaujolais bubble-gum here!) and with good richness and mouthfill, I thought this was good value at this price.

2016 Côte Roannaise, Éclat de Granite, Domaine Sérol  (Wine Society £9.95) Another Gamay, this time 100% and definitely not Beaujolais in style.  Grown on the granite soil of the Eastern Loire, a lot more body and minerality than the previous wine, quite acidic but with good mouthfill  despite only 12% alcohol. Bit short on the palate but would go very well with foie gras etc. Good value.

2015 Côteaux du Layon, Sr. Auban, Vin Biologique, Domaine Cady  (Wine Society £13.50) At last a Chenin Blanc a from the famous Layon area. Botrytis on the grapes comes through on the nose, quite a light wine with lychees on the palate, not rich like Sauternes, typical of the Cote du Layon. Very good value if you like the lighter style of sweet wine.

Overall, something of a mixed bag of wines. For me the disappointing thing was that we saw little of the quality that good Cabernet Franc offers, especially from the Chinon region, nor much of their lovely dry Chenin Blanc wines. Definitely an interesting tasting, which suggests that this is a region we should revisit soon.

John Harris