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Philippe Alliet, 2014 Update

During the past year I have increased my exposure to the red wines of the Loire, tasting, drinking and reporting on the likes of Sébastien David, Domaine Les Roches and Domaine de la Chevalerie in St Nicolas de Bourgueil and Chinon as well as a whole host of new Saumur-Champigny profiles and updates, taking in Domaine de Nerleux, Domaine Filliatreau, Château de Chaintres, René-Noël Legrand and quite a few others. Despite these efforts it is quite clear that I still have a lot of ground to cover when it comes to these appellations. This is, though, one of the joys of wine; the more you explore, taste and learn, the more unknowns you reveal. Having said that, there is one piece of red wine information of which I think I am certain (feel free to challenge me though), and that is this; the best red wines of the Loire come from Chinon, and specifically from domaines that have possession of vineyards along the limestone côte that runs between Chinon and Cravant-les-Coteaux. I admit that this opens up a debate about the merits of the top lieux-dits of Saumur-Champigny such as Le Poyeux and Le Bourg (think Clos Rougeard and Antoine Sanzay), but to me there is something special about the synthesis of the limestone soils and the Cabernet Franc with which they are planted that seems able to generate wines of great purity, wonderful depth of flavour and, of course, considerable longevity. Many examples of Chinon I have tasted over the years have taught me about the first two of these characteristics when it comes to Cabernet Franc, and some recent tastings from the 1989 vintage – including wines from Charles Joguet and Domaine de la Perrière – have certainly reaffirmed the potential these wines have for aging.

Philippe Alliet

Despite many recent tastings the top of the tree remain for me Bernard Baudry, these days run by son Matthieu, and Philippe Alliet (pictured above). Philippe also has a son, Pierre, who is surely set to one day take over the domaine. The wines are not to everyone’s taste, the usual complaints being that they are over-oaked and atypical. I have never had a problem with them; the wines certainly see some oak, usually being aged in barriques imported from Bordeaux, but they age beautifully and there is plenty of time for the oak to integrate. In addition, in very recent vintages the use of new oak seems to have been reined in a little, in the top cuvée at least, as I detail below.

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