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Domaine de la Pépière Cuvée Granit 2009

Thankfully influenza doesn't last forever, although it does tend to linger on. In my case, for two and a half weeks, engendering perhaps the longest period without tasting or drinking wine that I have experienced during the last ten or eleven years of Winedoctor writing. As a junior doctor I would in some jobs work weeks of night shifts ranging from 12 to 16 hours in length, so I would go for a week without so much as a taste of wine, but February 2011 has seen me smash that minor record.

Nevertheless, this weekend happily marked a return to drinking normality for me, and what better vinous medicine could there be that something from Marc Ollivier of Domaine de la Pépière. This wine turned out to be more than a joyful return to drinking; it also provided a salutatory lesson in how measured consideration of a wine, during the course of an evening, can be so much more instructive than the occasionally too-quick 'drive-by' tastes that events like the Salon des Vins de Loire or similarly grand tastings afford us, often of young, barely-fermented wines.

When it comes of Marc Ollivier, my mind turns to Muscadet. There is no denying that in this particular arena Marc is one of the leading lights of the appellation, despite what some of his detractors - including other vignerons who perhaps speak with a slightly green glint in their eye - might say. His Granite de Clisson cuvée, now destined to be named simply Clisson as mention of terroir has been excluded from the naming of the new crus communaux, as described in part two of my guide to Muscadet, is one of the region's greatest wines, as is his Clos des Briords cuvée. The red wines I have only become acquainted with more recently; there are three principal cuvées, one featuring Cot, one Cabernet and then there is this week's wine, the Cuvée Granit, which is a blend dominated by Cabernet Franc, then Cot and Merlot, with a smaller amount of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Domaine de la Pépière Cuvée Granit (VdP de Loire-Atlantique) 2009

I first encountered the 2009 Cuvée Granit in February 2010, when I met Marc at that year's Salon. It was clearly an interesting wine, but it showed a slightly disjointed fashion, the fruit rather soft-focus, a touch sweeter than I expected, although with some nice tannin beneath. One year on and the wine has certainly come together much better than I expected in bottle. As I suggested above, this taste of the wine is a testament to the importance of revisiting wines first encountered at large tastings such as the Salon in calmer, less distracting environments, when the wines have had a little more time in bottle to come together.

Right now the 2009 Domaine de la Pépière Cuvée Granit has a really lovely hue, still incredibly youthful, with a blue-crimson rim. It is still deeply coloured at the core, but not opaque. On the nose there follows a great aromatic profile, full of stony fruit character, all black cherry and blackcurrant rubbed over stone, with a very light touch of steel, and a bright, floral, Cabernet Franc perfume. It is certainly less warm and better focused than it seemed one year ago. In fact it now has a rather more precise feel, with a sharp, knapped-flint edge cutting cross the palate. The fruit is supple and lightly applied, very gently textured, with the acidity most prominent here. Overall it is fresh, lively and lifted, really pure, flinty, with a light grip behind the fresh fruit and acids, which all comes through onto the finish. It is short, admittedly, but it is just so fresh and composed on the palate this doesn't seem to matter. A really good wine. 15.5/20 (21/2/11)

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