Domaine aux Moines, 2016 Update

Making repeated visits to the Loire Valley means getting to know some vignerons and some domaines very well, and in many cases repeated visits serve only to reinforce well-formed opinions, or maybe even well-formed biases. On occasion, however, a tasting at a domaine with which I am familiar can throw up a real surprise. And when it is a good surprise – as I found here at Domaine aux Moines – it is an absolute delight.

I have long been familiar with the wines of this domaine, and I have always regarded them as a bit ‘old school’. The domaine, run for many years by Monique Laroche, turned out straw-soft Chenin Blancs which seemed a little impenetrable in youth, but softened and eased with appropriate age, typically over their first decade. Indeed, the wines could often be picked up for a song at ten or fifteen years of age, when they would give charming but otherwise unremarkable drinking. I certainly did this myself once or twice, although I would not have counted myself among the domaine’s most ardent fans.

Domaine aux Moines

In recent years Monique has been ceding control of the domaine to her daughter Tessa Laroche (pictured above), and I sense the two are different characters. Monique was a pharmacist who decided to turn her hand to wine, while Tessa has sought out a much more professional oenological education, and seems more in tune with the current themes of sustainability though organics or biodynamics, less intervention in the cellar and vibrancy, purity, minerality and acidity in the wines. The domaine has been, on the basis of the wines tasted here, revitalised by her assuming control.

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