Loire 2006 at Fifteen Years
The number of 2006s from the Loire Valley tucked away in my cellar has naturally dwindled as the years have passed. To be frank, I did not exactly start out with a great number of them, just a (mostly) carefully selected cohort of wines from a few domaines, either from vignerons whose work I admired and which I thought would shine through even in a more challenging vintage, or from domaines significant in some other way, even if I was not entirely sold on the quality of the wine.
Sticking with the first of these two groups, the vignerons I admire, a number of these wines have given me a lot of drinking pleasure over the years, most notably the wines of Richard Leroy. Having predicted his rise to cult status many years ago, I bought his wines in every vintage, year-in, year-out, while I could still afford them. As a consequence I have had no shortage of his 2006s to drink, and being a believer in the ‘wine is for drinking’ mantra I never once hesitated to open a bottle and pour myself a glass.
Sadly, these days, not only have the prices of Richard’s wines passed beyond the stratosphere to enter low-earth orbit, it has been several years since I last had contact with a merchant even prepared to sell me a bottle. Today they are like gold dust, destined for the ‘right’ kind of wine bar rather than my cellar. Having said that, I now see pictures of the labels popping up on Instagram all the time (I even join in, from time to time) – it’s almost if price and exclusivity, rather than the joy found within the bottle, are the major drivers of Instagram appeal. Who knew?
In other cases I have pulled the corks with a touch more caution, with Clos Rougeard being the prime example. The story at this domaine is very similar to Richard’s although the changes in prices and availability came here maybe ten years earlier, long before Charly Foucault’s passing and the sale of the domaine to the Bouygues brothers, proprietors of Château Montrose. As a consequence the number of the Foucault family’s bottles in my cellar is fast on the wane, and I tend to think twice before wielding the corkscrew.
Even so, as the wines reached their fifteenth birthday I took stock and I decided, with fourteen representatives of 2006 still slumbering in the cellar, maybe it was time to revisit this vintage. So here is a short report based on a small selection of wines pulled from my cellar at fifteen years of age. The featured domaines will come as no surprise to fans of this region, or to regular visitors to this site; alongside the two domaines already cited, this report includes wines from Nicolas Joly, Régis Minet, François Cotat, Château de Villeneuve, Bernard Baudry, Philippe Alliet, Domaine de Bablut and Château Pierre-Bise.
First, though, a few words on the vintage.