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Domaine de Bablut Coteaux de l’Aubance Vin Noble 1990

Domaine de Bablut Coteaux de l’Aubance Vin Noble 1990

Will I ever stop coming back to the wines of 1989 and 1990 in Anjou, Saumur and Touraine? I suppose the inevitable answer is yes, because eventually the time will come when I have drunk every last bottle from these two acclaimed vintages in my cellar. Having said that, given that I still have some examples from Vouvray in as-yet unbroken cases of six, hopefully that day is some distance in the future (fingers crossed they are not all corked – it is a known problem with some Vouvray domaines in this vintage).

While most of my bottles do indeed hail from Vouvray, alongside the occasional old vintage of Quarts de Chaume, it is wonderful to be able to bring out an old bottle from a less widely appreciated appellation from time to time. One such appellation is the Coteaux de l’Aubance, where a handful of domaines have kept alive the sweet wine tradition. This is despite the fact that the production of sweet wine around the Aubance only really kicked off in the early 20th century when vignerons from along the banks of the Layon, their vineyards devastated by phylloxera, sought out virgin soils with which to start anew.

Arguably the leading domaine of the appellation – there are only a couple of other credible contenders for the title – Domaine de Bablut has long been on my radar. Indeed, when I look along the ranks of empty bottles atop the bookshelf in my office (surely we all have these? – old empty bottles I mean, rather than a home office) Domaine de Bablut is one of the most strongly represented domaines, alongside bottles from Philippe Foreau and François Pinon. This reflects the domaine’s long history producing not only traditional moelleux cuvées made with Chenin Blanc, but also long-ageing examples of Cabernet d’Anjou, in lightly sweet as well as full-blown moelleux versions.

The 1990 Coteaux de l’Aubance Vin Noble from Domaine de Bablut is, as the name suggests, a cuvée made from fully botrytised Chenin Blanc, in exactly the same manner as the recently featured 1989 Vin Noble. The 1990 vintage was made by Christophe Daviau, who at the time had only recently returned to the family domaine after gaining experience abroad, in Australia. In the glass it displays a burnished red-gold hue, with a density and darkening pigmentation that can only come from richly botrytised fruits, especially those redder tones. The aromatics are nothing short of glorious, with wall-to-wall dried and pithy citrus fruits, lifted by a little lemony freshness, with a smoky and dense suggestion of concentration. The palate is sinewy, intense, beautifully fresh for an aged botrytised cuvée, the dried citrus fruits swirled with grained minerals, set in a beautifully succulent substance balanced by a fine acidity. There are appropriately richer tones too, streaked through the midpalate, reminiscent of almond praline and pastries. Dense and substantial throughout, succulent yet also brilliantly tense, pure and long, with a great length, this is a fabulous example of the style which I believe has many decades of ageing potential ahead of it. But then again, why wait? I didn’t. The alcohol on the label is just 12%. 96/100 (19/9/22)

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