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Loire 2011 at Ten Years: Red Wines

Loire 2011 at Ten Years: Red Wines

In this report on the red wines of the 2011 vintage, tasted at ten years of age, I again focus on about a dozen wines, touching on all the major appellations of the region. This means, after starting in Anjou-Villages, we move upstream to Saumur-Champigny, before moving on to the great red appellations of Touraine, namely Bourgueil (sadly I have no Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, apologies) and Chinon. I conclude with a couple of mature examples of red Sancerre.

Coming hot on the heels of 2009 and 2010, two excellent vintages for the red wines of the Loire, early thoughts were that 2011 was cut from the same, or at least perhaps similar, cloth. And early tastes were promising, especially where the red wines of Anjou were concerned. The red varieties ripen later than most of the white varieties, and were perhaps better able to take advantage of the good weather in autumn, reducing the discordancy that had appeared between sugar concentrations and potential alcohol levels (which had raced ahead) and the phenolic ripeness (which had lagged behind). Anjou has a favourable mesoclimate, being warmer and sheltered from the rain coming in from the west by the Puy de la Garde near Cholet. It also has planted on some of the best sites Cabernet Sauvignon rather than Cabernet Franc, an even later-ripener, which gave the vines even more time to take advantage of the late-summer sunshine.

Loire 2011

Whether or not this potential success could be extrapolated over the entire region is a question worth asking. Early tastes of the 2011s from some leading domaines in Chinon, from Cabernet Franc on limestone, seemed promising though, and I marked the vintage down in my little notebook as a good one for reds.

During the years that have since passed, however, occasional encounters with the 2011 reds have caused me to gradually revise this opinion. This is a more difficult vintage for reds, specifically in the red appellations of Touraine, than I first thought.

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