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Domaine de Bablut Cabernet d’Anjou 1979

Domaine de Bablut Cabernet d’Anjou 1979

Over the weekend I checked in on one or two older wines in the Loire Valley, where detail on growing seasons, harvests and wines are often much more difficult to come by than they are for Bordeaux. This is the main reason I publish annual Loire Valley vintage reports here on Winedoctor; the accompanying tasting notes are usually small in number (there is no primeurs week generating hundreds of tasting notes in the Loire Valley, and to be honest I am grateful for that – one primeurs a year is more than enough for me) but it is useful to have a report as a starting point and future reference for the vintage. I have found it very useful, for example, now that the wines have hit ten years of age, to go back and see what my original thoughts on the 2012 Loire Valley vintage were (overdue 2012 Ten Years On report to follow, obviously).

It’s not so easy with the 1979 vintage, which of course predates all my previously published reports. My apologies for this, but at the time I should have been writing this report I was still getting to grips with the basics of multiplication and division at primary school, information now put to good use working out the numbers of barrels or bottles produced from a starting point of hectares and yields (thanks, Mrs Norris). And thus a little research was required to understand this wine’s origins.

Domaine de Bablut Cabernet d'Anjou 1979

To put the 1979 vintage in context, let’s look first at the vintages which preceded it. After 1976, one of the more successful vintages for the region particularly in the Cabernet appellations of Bourgueil, St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and Chinon, the 1977 vintage was a frosted-out disaster, with many regions recording significant losses (a less common catastrophe then than it is today). The 1978 vintage was seen as a bounce-back success, but most of the contemporary reports discussed only the dry whites of Muscadet, Sancerre and the like, with little or no mention of sweet wines. Very dry conditions, with warm and dry weather from August 15th through to November 15th, probably did little to engender noble rot.

Then along came 1979 which was welcomed, for both its quality and quantity. Writing in Vintage Wine: Fifty Years of Tasting over Three Centuries of Wine (Time Warner Books, 2002), Michael Broadbent MW described the year as “another good year for dry Loire wines”, specifically in Muscadet, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, as well as the dry Vouvrays of Touraine. Perhaps more tellingly, he also wrote “there were also some attractive sweet Coteaux du Layon wines too”, indicating that there was some potential in the vintage for higher levels of concentration and residual sugar than perhaps there had been in 1977 and 1978.

Even so, the 1979 Cabernet d’Anjou from Domaine de Bablut only achieved a demi-sec level of sweetness, rather than the moelleux concentration seen in the 1980 Domaine de Bablut Cabernet d’Anjou I drank two or three years ago. The wine certainly has a sense of restraint, in keeping with this; it has a rich orange-gold hue in the glass, with a vibrant red tinge, testament perhaps to the wine’s rosé origins. The nose is as curious as any aged Cabernet d’Anjou could or should be, with fragrant and unexpected scents of watermelon, lemon, orange rind and strawberry, nuanced with streaks of tobacco and toasted nuts. The palate places these piquant lemon-peel and citrus-laced flavours into a structure of bitter grip, with the same toasted notes, along with some biscuity macaroon and a touch of tobacco again. It finishes with a peppery twist, as well as a long and charged finish. While its sweetness is minimal, less so than the 1980 vintage, its complexity less coherent than the 1974, it does have a clean, bright and acid-fresh style on its side. 89/100 (13/3/23)

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