Poniatowski Vouvray Aigle Blanc 1984
Opinions on the wines of Philippe Poniatowski vary; Jacqueline Friedrich, in her book A Wine & Food Guide to the Loire, published by Mitchell Beazley in 1996 (or thereabouts, depending on your country of residence), rated this estate as 'highly recommended' and thus one of the better in Vouvray. Others, however, cite some disappointing performances, and are looking for significant improvements from François Chidaine, a Montlouis winemaker who now farms the Poniatowski vineyards as well as his own domaine, an arrangement worked out just in time for the 2002 vintage.
The vineyards of Vouvray lie on the north bank of the Loire as it flows towards Tours, facing those of Montlouis on the south. There are several historic terroirs here, such as Le Mont and Le Haut Lieu, both from the Huet portfolio; these vineyards are the sources of some of the Loire's greatest, most exalted white wines. Notions of terroir at the Poniatowski/Chidaine estate centre around the Clos Baudoin, also widely regarded as one of the leading sites of Vouvray. Then there is the Clos de l'Avenir, both this and the Clos Baudoin are bottled separately, provided the quality is satisfactory, which depends on the vintage. The estate also comprises many plots of land outside of these two vineyards, however, and these are generally blended and sold under the Aigle Blanc designation. These can be good, and are obviously less expensive than those from Clos Baudoin. I recently purchased some mature examples of Aigle Blanc, as well as the two single vineyard wines, from several vintages, from Mike & Liz Berry of Grand Cru Wines Ltd. The Berry's often have some interesting bin ends for sale, including small stocks of mature wines, and it's certainly worth being on their mailing list. Just to be clear, I have no commercial connection with them or their business.
The most mature of the wines purchased, although still with plenty of life left yet, is the Poniatowski Vouvray Aigle Blanc 1984, which I found a good match with some roast pork with crunchy crackling. It has a good depth of colour, still with a vibrant, rich and polished golden hue. Pure minerals and crushed rocks on the nose, which is quite potent, with good organic wool aromas. Very full structure on the palate, very domineering, with firm acidity carrying a raft of rather austere mineral and stone flavours, with a little grip too. Rather a lemony twist on the finish, with a firm bite here. Holding together quite nicely, a well knit texture on the finish, with a decent length with more than a hint of bitter lemon and quinine. Full marks for longevity and certainly a decent drink. This does not have the finesse of a truly great Vouvray (1984 was a lesser vintage with a rain early on and late in the season, and it yielded largely sec cuvées) but has some appreciable secondary characteristics, and should keep well for years. 16/20 (28/8/06)