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Domaine de la Butte Bourgueil Mi-Pente 2005

Domaine de la Butte Bourgueil Mi-Pente 2005

This week on Winedoctor I will be taking a look at the 2005 vintage in the Loire Valley, as the wines approach their fifteenth birthday. Looking at the broad spread of domaines that will feature in this week’s reports, including famous names such as Clos Rougeard, Charles Joguet, Domaine Huet, Alphonse Mellot and many others (and believe me, I could go on) I see I have featured many of them – in the 2005 vintage – as my Weekend Wine over the years. It’s perhaps not surprising; from the outset it was clear that this was an exciting vintage, and I loaded up, filling up bin after bin in my cellar.

At the time it seemed to be not only an excellent vintage, but an exceptional one, a vintage brimming with ripe reds, rich whites and fabulous sweet wines, successful not just in one region or one style, but across the board. As I will explore in my introduction to this week’s reports tomorrow, such vintages are no longer so rare in the region. What once incited wide-eyed wonder is now more commonplace, the region having enjoyed similar broad success in numerous recent vintages, led by 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2018. The vintages in-between were largely pretty good as well, even if some were heavily blighted by frost. Sadly, climate change has brought challenges as well as benefits to the Loire Valley.

Domaine de la Butte Bourgueil Mi-Pente 2005

Back to the 2005 vintage, and the wines I have featured as my Weekend Wine over the years. Among all the domaines there were a handful of omissions, but one seemed to glare more strongly than all the others, and that was Domaine de la Butte. Jacky Blot’s wines have the quality and capability to age well; this was evident to me on one of my first visits to the Salon des Vins de Loire, too many years ago now. Sidling up to his stand I found Jacky pouring a mini-vertical of his Mi-Pente cuvée, starting with his first vintage here in 2002 (I can’t quite recall where it finished), and it was clear that the wines not only had the structure and substance to age and evolve well, they had some track record as well.

Mi-Pente originates from Jacky’s best parcel of vines which, as the name suggests, are located on the midslope (some have likened this selection to the position of the premiers and grands crus in Burgundy, although I am not really sure of the validity of the comparison). The rest of the harvest goes into Le Haut de la Butte and Le Pied de la Butte, secondary cuvées from higher and lower positions on the slope. The fermentation is in wooden cuve, with élevage in barrel, using a decent percentage of new wood, as much as 25%. The oak is very apparent when the wines are young, so this cuvée won’t satisfy those addicted to the image of Loire Valley Cabernet Franc as an early-drinking bistro-style wine. For those who know how the top red wines of the Loire Valley perform with age (and what else are these great vintages for?), however, then this cuvée will tick all the boxes, often at a very fair price.

The 2005 vintage of the Bourgueil Mi-Pente from Domaine de la Butte shows, at fifteen years, a dusty-dark core with a mulberry rim, evolution appropriate for its age. The nose feels nicely developed, with a complex array of scents including smoky currant fruit, juniper, tobacco leaf, green peppercorn, cigar box and toast. It has a richly sooty substance suggesting some good tannic structure, but it does also feel slightly high-toned, albeit fleetingly. The palate is polished, sinewy and peppery, filled with grilled blackcurrant fruits, smoke and pencil shavings. As the nose perhaps suggested it is indeed still loaded with tannins, ripe and velvety, tightly knit, and nicely balanced with the midpalate substance. At fifteen years this is still showing great substance and energy, with great length; it clearly still has plenty of gas in the tank. Good to drink now, or hold as you wish. 95/100

Coming this week, another 40 wines from this vintage, across four reports. (21/9/20)

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