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Domaine de Montrieux Boisson Rouge 2010

The Loire can be a difficult wine region to get to grips with. Not at a very superficial level of course; the most famous appellations, such as Sancerre and Chinon, are well-known by many, even some of the most casual of drinkers. Dig beneath the surface, however, and the Loire suddenly becomes much more complex. There are more unsung regions, subregions, appellations and communes than you can possibly imagine. Open a general wine book, for example, and look for some detail on the vineyards and domaines of the Cher Valley, or of Jasnières and the Coteaux d Loir, and you will soon be scrabbling around in a hunt for scraps of information. The most peripheral regions, such as the Côtes de Forez, which lies much closer to the vineyards of the Rhône and Burgundy, may as well not exist at all for all you can find on them.

So too the Coteaux de Vendômois, a region to the north of Tours, and closely associated with the aforementioned Jasnières and the Coteaux d Loir. This region is in fact the larger of the three (although none are huge - the Vendômois covers 142 hectares, the other two each less than 100 hectares), and yet is perhaps the most obscure. To some degree this may reflect the presence of one or two increasingly famous names waving the banner for Jasnières and the Coteaux du Loir, such as Eric Nicolas at Domaine de Bellivière; his wines are sufficiently stunning to attract the attention of journalists, sommeliers and the wine-drinking public, thereby increasing awareness not only of the domaine, but of the appellation too. The Coteau de Vendômois has, I think, no-one producing wines of that calibre. That is not to say that there are not good wines here though, and Emile Heredia of Domaine de Montrieux would be the first to spring to mind.

Domaine de Montrieux Boisson Rouge 2010

As is the case with a number of peripheral Ligérian regions the Coteaux de Vendômois has managed to resist the tide of Sauvignon Blanc that has swept through many Touraine vineyards. Instead you will find here large swathes of Pineau d'Aunis (also known as Chenin Noir), as well as Gamay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc for reds, with mainly Chenin Blanc representing the whites. I have featured the Verre des Poètes, Emile Heredia's benchmark red in weeks gone by, and that wine was Pineau d'Aunis. In Boisson Rouge, however, we have Gamay, or to be more precise Gamay Noir, to distinguish it from the teinturiers, such as Gamay de Bouze or Gamay Chaudenay, which can also be found planted in this part of the Loire. And more remarkably this is a pétillant naturel, a sparkling Gamay, a wine which began its fermentation in stainless steel cuve and finished it in bottle, hence the lightly pétillant character. As such it isn't eligible for the Coteaux de Vendômois appellation, and is a Vin de France. But who cares? It is one of the most joyous wines I have tasted in the last few months.

It is not merely a glass of bubbly fun though, as the flavours are certainly savoury rather than sweet, and they do provide some stimulation and challenge my preconceptions of Gamay. This perhaps reflects the aging in bottle this wine, from the 2010 vintage (indicated by the lot number, L.00101), has undergone; the 2011 (lot number L.00111 I would presume, although I didn't make a note of it), tasted recently at the Real Wine Fair, is a clear step up in quality compared to this wine; I suspect therefore this is a wine perhaps best drunk in its extreme youth, but I will keep an open mind. The 2010 Boisson Rouge has a dusky red hue in the glass, and a good depth of colour, not so vibrant as I perhaps expected, but with plenty of pigment. Bright fruit, juicy stone fruit notes, also a stony substance, with hints of leather dampening the freshness of the damsons and violets. It has a lovely bright and lively palate, the texture supple and juicy, the effect compounded by the residual carbon dioxide giving the palate a very fine-boned pétillance which cleanses, lifts, enriches and defines the palate through into the finish. There is some residual sugar sitting behind this as well, surely, giving substance and texture rather than overt sweetness. It reminds me somewhat of Marc Angeli's Rosé d'Un Jour, in terms of its structure and light pétillance (but not the colour, obviously!), as well as the sheer joy it brings. It is long, slightly grippy in the finish despite the light-hearted character otherwise, and there is some good length to it. A fun wine to drink. 17/20 (2/7/12)

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