Richard Leroy, 2014 Update

In a recent edition of the very fine print magazine The World of Fine Wine (Issue 43, Q1, 2014) one article in particular caught my eye. No, it wasn’t the letter on the ‘fatal flaw’ in the Cru Bourgeois system on page 32, written by yours truly (I’ve become something of a regular contributor to this magazine, albeit only through the medium of the letters page!). Instead it was an article by Michel Bettane, on the back page, entitled The tragedy of Chenin. In it, having praised a handful of growers from Saumur for their mineral-rich white wines, and before he heaps plaudits upon Florent Baumard and Jacky Blot for theirs, Monsieur Bettane wades into Anjou with a broad brush.

As an example of the tone of the article, for those who are not subscribers to the magazine, Bettane writes “Today’s Anjou wines, on the other hand, are a complete disaster. The worst offenders, no matter how stylish, are so horribly unbalanced that their producers actually demote them to vins de table, knowing full well that they would never pass the taste test required for AOC approval.”

Richard Leroy

Despite some contradictory generalisations (such as the notion that all Anjou wines are somehow evil, while Domaine des Baumard are at the same time world-class) Bettane made some points I agreed with, such as his distaste at finding of many over-ambitious, over-ripe and over-oaked wines in Saumur-Champigny, precisely my finding when I reviewed a number of estates in the appellation last year. I also found much to disagree with though, in particular his brushing aside of wines of Vins de Table status (most producers use the Vin de France category, but no matter) as clearly being unworthy. This premise completely ignores the evident politics of the appellation agrément, and the fact that many vignerons work outside the appellation system either because they prefer the freedom of less stringent regulations, as exist with non-appellation classifications, or because they are disillusioned with the appellation d’origine contrôlée system.

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