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The Longest Day

It is Tuesday morning and as I tuck into my pain au chocolat this morning I have realised I have just a half-day of tasting left before I head back to the UK, and I have a lot to squeeze in. Not because I have been lazy (honest) – yesterday I was tasting from about 9:30 am and I carried on until 11 pm (this is not a joke). It is because this trip is a little shorter than usual, as the Salon would not normally finish until Wednesday.

Yesterday’s roll-call of tastings was a long one then, starting with Pithon-Paillé and Jo Landron in the morning, ending with a rapid run-through of the latest and impending releases from Domaine de la Pépière and Vincent Caillé (that makes it sound like there was a lot of Muscadet, which there was, but there were a lot of other appellations and regions popping up as well). I also concentrated on trying to mix up familiar and unfamiliar domaines, and in the latter I made good discoveries, wines with fresh and pure flavours, but also less interesting discoveries, where such features gave way to funky, oxidised or other unusual flavours. It’s the natural wine lottery, a game without favourable odds.

I was ejected from the Salon at 7 pm, at which point I headed over to Domaine du Closel in Savennières for a special tasting hosted by Evelyne de Jessey-Pontbriand, proprietor of this estate for about fifteen years, a fact celebrated by her pouring the fifteen most recent vintages from this estate, from 2001 onwards (which actually made fourteen, because there was no 2012 because of frost, and I think the 2016 has gone the same way). This was a great tasting, held in a very atmospheric room in the château (pictured above), hung with tapestries and illuminated by candle- and lamp-light (it was actually much lighter than my picture suggests – it wasn’t that kind of blind tasting).

I am off now for Tuesday’s tastings. I must call in on François Chidaine and Philippe Alliet, two domaines I wouldn’t want to miss out. After that I might try and call in on a few more less familiar names. There are a few domaines I haven’t visited that are definitely on my hit list – Jacky Blot and Alphonse Mellot, for example – but I will meet up with them at Vinovision in a few days time.

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