Charles Sydney Breakfast Tasting 2009, Part 1

I kicked off my three days of tasting at the 2009 Salon de Vins de Loire at Charles Sydney’s Breakfast Tasting, an event held just across the road. The venue was the Brit Hotel Acropole, a strange little roadside inn which seems to be dedicated to the glories of ancient Greece, complete with gigantic faux columns. Inside, however, all was decidedly French, especially the breakfast which included some fabulous, melt-in-the-mouth boudins noirs, tasty lardons and all manner of fresh breads and pastries. Oh, and there was some wine as well. Mustn’t forget that.

In fact there was an awful lot of wine, so much so that in my eagerness to do each bottle sampled appropriate justice, I tasted probably only half of what was on show. I was soon overtaken by the majority of other attendees, largely trade buyers who quickly slurped and spat, making very cursory notes to back up their buying decisions. Others were perhaps just looking to inform their overall opinions of the 2007 and 2008 vintages.

Charles Sydney Breakfast Tasting, 2009

I have divided my notes up geographically, starting today with the vin de pays, Muscadet and Anjou-Saumur. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the 2008 Muscadets, as the region was hit hard by frost, reducing yields dramatically; many vignerons brought in only 10-30 hl/ha, with a few individual growers/vineyards in single figures, against a permitted yield of 55 hl/ha. Nevertheless what has been made appears, based admittedly on this minuscule sample, to be of good quality. When it comes to the 2008 Chenin Blancs of Anjou and Saumur, again a small sample, I also found a number of good wines, with a particular nod towards the embryonic but very promising wines from Jo Pithon (pictured above) at Pithon-Paillé. The reds from the same regions, however, were less exciting. These were largely from the 2007 vintage, one characterised by summer rain, overcast skies and even a little hail; sadly some wines were true to the vintage, with stretched out fruit, lacking in freshness and vibrancy. There are some good wines, with the 2007 Quintessence from Château de Targé the most convincing here by a long shot, although there were also decent efforts from the likes of Domaine des Rochelles and Château de Hureau.

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