Domaine de Bablut Coteaux de l’Aubance 1972
While I imagine most wine-minded drinkers have been tucking into Champagne, old vintages of Port and maybe something sweet from Sauternes or Barsac over the past few days, I have been enjoying – in part at least – some alternative, mostly Loire-themed drinking. Alongside a few bottles of Champagne (yes I still drink the stuff from time to time) I have really been enjoying Vouvray from several well-known domaines, whereas instead of Port I turned this week to Banyuls instead (there isn’t really a valid stand-in from the Loire Valley, at least not one I can think of – do let me know if you know different). And, instead of Sauternes, why not something from one of the less well-known sweet wine appellations of the Loire Valley? Coteaux de l’Aubance, anyone?
The roll-call of domaines working in this appellation is relatively small, compared to the Coteaux du Layon, anyway. One that has given me plenty of tasting and drinking joy over the years is Domaine de Bablut. This domaine is in the hands of the Daviau family, who have been working as agriculteurs and viticulteurs in this region for many centuries. The latest generation to take charge, Christophe Daviau, implemented a quiet revolution of the domaine. After studying and working in Bordeaux and Australia respectively, he returned to take on the running of the family vineyards in 1990. The domaine was organic by 1996, and more recently converted to biodynamics. Christophe turns out a range of top-quality wines, dry white, red (including one of the Loire Valley’s best 100% Cabernet Sauvignon cuvées) and of course sweet wines.
This wine was made by Christophe’s father, Jean-Pierre Daviau. Although today the range of moelleux wines made by Christophe is divided into several cuvées, including Sélection, Grandpierre, Noble and Unique, this reflects a more recent practise and in Jean-Pierre’s time I am fairly certain that just one cuvée was produced in each vintage. This, the 1972, comes from a vintage with which I have little experience in the Loire Valley. It was not a particularly remarkable vintage, perhaps best described as an ‘average’ year. It wasn’t, to my knowledge, a year that favoured the production of sweet wine.
This view of the vintage seemed to be accurately reflected in the 1972 Coteaux de l’Aubance from Domaine de Bablut. The appearance gives little away, except perhaps that the intensity of hue is a touch on the light side, although it has an appealing golden fresh-faced shine to it. The nose is where it shows its true colours, with scents of savoury grainy oatmeal, spiced up with some grilled orange slices, the only real hint of sweetness coming in with a rather subtle style, giving the nose just a little touch of caramel biscuit. The palate at least has harmony, showing a polished and gentle sweetness, with a simple barley-sugar character, cut with a fresh and cool, stony substance. Laid over the top there are thin blankets of oatmeal and oranges, along with some greener notes redolent of mint, aniseed and angelica. It is cool, pithy, bright, substantial, relatively short and peppery. A pretty wine overall, in terms of style quite similar to that of Moulin Touchais. For a wine from a ho-hum vintage, at not-quite 45 years of age, I think this has held up rather well. 16.5/20 (26/12/16)