There is hope for the world of wine while people are still making old vine Grolleau. Let me explain. Tonight I opened two red wines, both from the Loire, both biodynamic, and both wonderful in their own way. These are the first of a batch of wines from Les Caves de Pyrene (read more here), one of my wine retailer heros. They've got a wonderful list, which they primarily sell to restaurants plus the independent wine merchants, and then their own private clients. They began with wines of the southwest of France, but they've since branched out, chiefly to the Languedoc, the Loire and Italy. If you've grown a bit disillusioned about the modern world of wine, call them up, ask them to put together an interesting case of wine for you for under £120, and then be amazed by the results. It will restore your faith.
Le Cousin Rouge Vieilles Vignes Grolleau Vin de Table Francais
Olivier Cousin can't label this with geographic origin or vintage, but it's a 2005 from Anjou, I believe. It's biodynamic (Demeter certified) and it has no added sulfur (although the sulfites produced by the yeast during fermentation means that these are declared). I'm thrilled by this wine, although I could understand if others were less taken by it. Initially, on opening, this is a bit funky. In fact, it tastes a bit like homemade wine with a slight prickle on the palate. It's only after an hour or so that it begins to show what it's made of. I'm getting wonderfully pure, sweet yet restrained red and black fruits with an amazingly seamless quality. Yet there's still a tiny prickle of spice and minerals offsetting the otherwise smooth fruit. The wine carries itself very lightly in the mouth, with a little tannic grip on the finish adding a bit of contrast. I wonder whether something microbiological has been going on here, contributing to the prickle I'm getting. Still, I'm delighted to drink it, because it has real authenticity. Even if I'm not seeing it at its best, I'm enjoying drinking this - I guess it's the vinous equivalent of a dangerous friend - the sort of friend who can blow a bit hot and cold; who can be fantastic company one night but awful another. Still, the good times are so good they make the bad ones worthwhile. I've probably chosen a poor metaphor here, because this wine is good tonight, in part because it is true. I suspect it has the capacity to show better. Very good+ 89/100
Thierry Germain Domaine des Roches Neuves 2005 Samur Champigny, Loire
Another wine confirming what an excellent vintage 2005 was in the Loire. This is the unoaked cuvee from Thierry Germain, master of Cabernet Franc, and it's amazingly exuberant. A very deep purple red colour, the nose is vividly fruited with raspberries, blueberries, smoke, tar and a fresh herbal tinge right in the backround. On the palate this shows a great density of fresh bright red fruits with grippy tannins and a lovely gravelly minerality. An extracted, intense wine to be savoured in its youth. Brilliant fun. This was Germain's first year biodynamic, apparently. Very good/excellent 90/100