Vigeronne tasting, August 2001
It's not hard to see why Loire reds aren't very fashionable.
They're not big, ripe, and sweetly fruited, so they lack that
head-turning ability that tends to grab the attention of critics.
Instead, they are often lighter, more subtle, high-acid wines, relying
on elegance and perfume rather than power to make their impression.
And with the Loire's cool, often wet climate there is quite a bit of
vintage variation, which can make successful purchasing a tricky
business. But I like them. Good examples show balance, fragrance and
'digestibility': they are wines you can sit down with and get to know
over the course of an evening. They are also great food wines.
Domaine des Chesnaies is a mid-sized producer in Bourgeuil, with
some 35 ha of vines. The wines are aged in large wooden foudres
(barrels), and the best cuvées have extended barrel ageing. The older
wines tasted here were until very recently stored in the Domaine's own
cellars, carved into the tufa limestone that is typical of the region.
I suspect it's partly because of the cool conditions of these cellars
(a constant 6-8 °C) that the older wines here were showing so well.
In particular, the 1976 is a real stunner. It may yet improve more. If the more recent vintages
of the same cuvée are made in the same style, then it may well be
worth investing in. After all, because of the Loire's
semi-unfashionable status, the prices for these wines are remarkably
2000 Bourgueil Rosé (£6.50)
Very pale in colour, with a fresh, bright nose and good acidity.
There's a hint of leafiness to this. Attractive wine showing god
concentration. Very good
1999 Bourgueil Cuvée Lucien-Lamé
A single 2.5 ha clos, this is the highest vineyard in the domaine.
Lovely nose shows delicate notes of pencil shavings, cedar and some
herbaceousness. Quite light on the palate (it was a tricky vintage),
with high acidity and some spicy tannins. Very digestible. Very good+
1998 Bourgueil Cuvée Vieilles Vignes
From gravel terraces, the Vieilles Vignes cuvée is apparently made in
a forward, perfumed style. Bright cherry red colour, not too dense.
Slightly muted on the nose with a palate dominated by raspberry and
cherry fruit. Bright and fruity, this is a little primary, but may
develop some real interest with a bit of time in the bottle. Good/very
1997 Bourgueil Cuvée Vieilles Vignes
There's a smoky, tarry edge to the leafy raspberry fruit that is quite
attractive. Lovely density to the palate: it is rich, full, ripe and
cedary, with good balance. Interesting stuff. Midweight and
digestible. Very good+ (£7.95)
1995 Bourgueil Cuvée Lucien-Lamé
A cherry colour with a mature brick-red rim. The subtle, expressive
nose shows leafy, spicy and leathery notes, leading to a balanced
palate with drying tannins and leafy, plummy fruit. Dry finish and
good acidity. Very good+
1995 Bourgueil Cuvée Prestige
This cuvée has a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon added, and is made in a
longer-lasting style. A pale cherry red colour with a bricking rim.
The subtle nose is slightly leafy and leathery. Nice balanced palate
shows cedary fruit with a herbaceous edge, firm tannins, good acid and
a dry, spicy finish. Savoury and lean. Very good (£7.95)
1989 Bourgueil Cuvée Prestige
A superb effort. Surprisingly deep in colour with a bricking rim.
Lovely chalky, mineralic nose with a core of ripe, slightly meaty
fruit. The concentrated palate shows rich, ripe fruit with some tarry
undertones. It's mineralic, with still-firm tannins. Excellent
1976 Bourgueil Cuvée Prestige
Remarkable stuff. Deep red/purple colour, starting to fade a little at
the rim. Sensational open, chalky, mineralic nose with a beguiling
hint of undergrowth. The palate is beautifully balanced and displays
fresh, rich fruit, chalky minerality, good acidity, mouthfilling
concentration and firm tannins. Excellent (£35)
1969 Bourgueil Cuvée Prestige
A healthy cherry red colour, this is beginning to fade a bit at the
rim. It has an evolved 'old wine' nose of mushrooms, undergrowth and
minerals. The attractive, balanced palate is rounded with some
minerally fruit, a touch of spice and good length on the finish. I'd
drink this up fairly soon. Very good/excellent (£45)