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Domaine de la Pépière Cuvée Granit 2010

The spectacle that was the 2012 Summer Olympic Games has now drawn to a close. The races have been run, the national anthems played, and victorious Olympians have received their medals and posies. And yet, even after two weeks of non-stop athletics, swimming, running and more, some unanswered questions remain. I'm sure they have been swirling about in your mind as well as mine. What, for instance, exactly is dressage all about? Why do athletes believe covering themselves with brightly-coloured sticky tape achieves anything at all? Why do some sports use a podium for the medal ceremony, and not others? How are the latest cuvées from Domaine de la Pépière tasting right now?

Alright, perhaps the last question wasn't at the forefront of your mind, but it is in mine. Having spent yesterday morning not watching Olympic athletes competing but instead drawing up a short-list of wines for a forthcoming event called the 2012 Absolutely Cracking Wines from France Tasting, my mind returned the Loire and to Domaine de la Pépière in particular. The event in question, currently in the throes of early organisation, is scheduled for mid-October and features a selection of French wines (obviously - you certainly can't accuse the organisers of not choosing an informative title for the tasting) chosen up by invited individuals from the UK wine press. I was honoured to be asked to submit three wines, and although I'm not supposed to reveal details of the wines prior to the tasting, regular readers will probably have some small inkling of the region of origin of my three choices.

Domaine de la Pépière Cuvée Granit (VdP de Loire-Atlantique) 2010

This process got me to thinking about Domaine de la Pépière (because if you need to find an 'absolutely cracking' wine, this domaine seems like a reasonable place to start), and the wines I tasted at the Salon earlier this year. Each year after the Salon I try to pick up a few of the wines I have tasted in order to re-examine them at my leisure, to reaffirm or refute the opinions formed over a quick trade-show taste with a bottle poured and sipped in more calm surroundings, usually with some food alongside. The red wines of Domaine de la Pépière are a good candidate for this sort of treatment; everyone who knows Muscadet knows that Marc Ollivier (these days along with his recently-appointed associate Rémi Branger) turns out some of the better examples of Muscadet in existence, but what of the red wines? I usually find them to be very good indeed; and then, weeks later, doubt creeps in, after all the salty, sandy, cool and windswept dunes of the Nantais hardly seem like the ideal spot for Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and the like, do they? When these thoughts enter my head, that's when I know it's time to open a bottle.

The 2010 Domaine de la Pépière Cuvée Granit was duly pulled from the cellar, and as some say "popped and poured". It has a lovely bright colour in the glass, clean and fresh in terms of hue, and the nose is full of all the fresh fruit character you would expect from this appearance. It has just-ripe notes suggestive of cherry stone and more biting cranberry, along with little elements of raspberry juice. This is not a wine of effusive seduction, feeling more stony, firm and tight, and yet I cannot deny that there is plenty of appealing character to be found here. The palate has a lovely fruit layer which exactly matches that found on the nose, again calling to mind cherry stones with a pebbly bite, and these very firm flavours run right through to the fresh, suck-a-pebble finish. This is bright, clean-lined and characterful, not sweet nor fleshy and yet it has plenty of presence, especially in the cool and confident finish. A good wine, and I enjoyed its delineated character a touch more than the delicious 2009. 16/20 (13/8/12)

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