One of the delights of the Loire is the strong array of sparkling wines now available. Once, many years ago, I thought Loire fizz was limited to Saumur. Then I discovered Crémant de Loire, and Vouvray, and then Montlouis. More recently there has been a revival of the méthode ancestrale to give us what is commonly known as pétillant naturel. Indeed, thanks to the increasing acceptance of Vin de France, vignerons with an experimental streak can make just about whatever style they fancy these days, pétillant naturel or otherwise, using whatever variety they have to hand.
Last week’s wine of the week is an example of the latter, the latest release (officially a non-vintage cuvée, but actually 2011) of Boisson Rouge from Domaine de Montrieux. Below I report on two examples of the other aforementioned styles, one Saumur and one Crémant de Loire, both from highly talented winemakers, including one who put in 15 years at Bollinger. Nevertheless, although they may wear the name of long-established appellations on their labels, both are new interpretations, new examples of what can be achieved within the remit of these appellations.
Thierry Germain & Michel Chevré Saumur Bulles de Roches NV: I tasted this very recently at the Real Wine Fair, but it is immediately obvious that this wine is different to that shown there (the same was true of the Boisson Rouge, as it happens). The appearance does not have that same intense yellow-gold hue, but a more pure, polished appearance. There is a plentiful bead. The nose is fresh and firm, with bright stony fruit. It is polished, ripe, expressive, suggestive of substance but with a bright and defined frame. Bright and full, with a creamy top layer, and underneath a firm and steely seam of acid and crunchy minerality. It has a lemony bite, and a limestoney substance, but with a bare but adequate seam of ripe fruit all around it. It is long, grippy, pure, slightly austere and structured. Overall a very good wine. 16.5/20 (July 2012)
Château de l’Aulée Crémant de Loire Brut NV: Owner and winemaker Marielle Henrion worked at Bollinger for 15 years before buying this property in the Loire. This has a fine bead in the glass, and a pale lemon-gold hue. There are aromas of cashew nut, underpinned by a dried-fruit richness, which is also fresh, clean and open, yet it remains stylish and convincing. In the mouth it shows a lovely, poised mousse, giving the wine a gently creamy feel, reinforcing its fine-boned polished-fruit richness, which is also defined by an attractive and grippy edge. Some very stylish notes here, a broad feel, and overall a confident and supple wine. A long finish. Overall very impressive; surely the closest I’ve experienced to Bollinger elegance in the Loire. 16.5/20 (July 2012)