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Domaine Ogereau Coteaux du Layon Saint Lambert 2001

It is only a few weeks since I returned from Bordeaux, and the memories of all the sweet wines from Monbazillac, Saussignac and the Côtes de Duras - as you can tell I was staying on the border between Bordeaux and Bergerac - are now fading. You might wonder why I write "I've returned from Bordeaux" when "I've returned from Bergerac" might be just as if not more appropriate, but the focus of the trip was Bordeaux - as evinced by my first report on Château Lafleur, published last week - and so I will stick with "Bordeaux" for the moment.

In the meantime, though, I have returned home and - vicariously at least - returned to the Loire with this wine, from Vincent Ogereau, one of the Loire Valley's unsung heroes. And no sooner had I put the glass to my lips than all the memories of those sweet Saussignacs - well, one Saussignac in particular, to be honest - came flooding back. There were so many similarities between the two wines that, in my own mind, comparison was inevitable. The wine in question, to give a little context, was a fresh and youthful Saussignac from Château Lardy, much of which I consumed one evening, along with a slab or two of foie gras and a handsome sprinkling of fleur de sel. Traditional south-western fare, with a locally produced wine; what could be better?

Domaine Ogereau Coteaux du Layon Saint Lambert 2001

That two such wines - from different regions, one a decade older than the other, made using very different varieties (Chenin Blanc vs. Semillon) - can provoke such similar sensations on the palate I find remarkable. It is not that common an event. A few times I have heard tasters describing Sauvignon-dominant cuvées of Sauternes as "Riesling-like", clearly indicating some resemblance - for their palate - between the wine in question and, I assume, the Rieslings of the Mosel and Rheingau (I'm guessing this is a more likely match than the wines of the Clare Valley). Otherwise, I struggle to think of many cross-regional, cross-varietal twosomes. Burgundy, on the whole, tends to remind me of other Burgundies. Vouvray, of other Vouvrays. For sure, it is not too difficult to pick out a few similarities when comparing Pauillac and Californian Cabernet, or Gevrey-Chambertin and Russian River Pinot Noir, but these hardly count bearing in mind the varieties employed.

The Saussignac was young, fresh and full of lifted, lemony, citrus-tinged fruit, was nicely defined, not hugely sweet and did not show a great degree of botrytis-related complexity. Much of this description could also be applied to the 2001 Coteaux du Layon Saint Lambert from Domaine Ogereau; it has a very appealing, bright, lemon-gold hue in the glass; it certainly has a youthful appearance, and I would never have put it at more than ten years old. The nose is fresh, light and vivacious, with hints of mango, citrus pith and lychee backed up by a fat and lightly chalky suggestion. Again, like that gleaming lemon-gold hue in the glass, the aromatics give no real indication as to the age of the wine. On the palate the wine does carry enough residual sugar to give it a polished, lightly honeyed texture, but the character otherwise is bright and fresh, grippy even, rather than anything richer or more evolved. The finish is also structured and long, and there are savoury notes alongside the sweet texture. A very attractive wine, and one that reminds me that sweet wines such as this - whether from the Coteaux du Layon or much further afield - should not always be viewed as 'dessert' wines. This cuvée would work very well as an apéro, or indeed as a partner to one or two slabs of foie gras - with the requisite fleur de sel, of course. 16/20 (27/8/12)

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