Domaine de la Butte Bourgueil Perrières 2018

Expect to see a lot of 2018s from the Loire Valley on this site in coming years. Why? Well, for a couple of reasons. First, this incredibly rich vintage produced a wealth of darkly coloured, richly textured and ageworthy wines; the more serious cuvées from the very best terroirs are emboldened by brilliant structure and balance, the palates dripping with ripe tannin while never letting go of some sense of variety or origin. Second, there is no shortage of wine. While some recent vintages have been a bit short – especially frostbitten years such as 2016 and 2017 – the 2018 vintage was generous in terms of both quantity and quality. The vintage is already strongly represented in my cellar; and a good number of top cuvées from Chinon, Bourgueil and Saumur have yet to released.

To be honest my cellar isn’t exactly deficient in the 2016 or 2017 vintages either (I am wondering if this is a surprise to anyone?). As a regular visitor to the Loire Valley, and with a particular interest in its wines, I tend to dive in quick, buying what I like in order to be able to enjoy the wines now, but also to have enough bottles to be able to return to it ten or more years in the future. But 2018 is special; it deserves, or perhaps demands, a deeper and broader look.

Domaine de la Butte Bourgueil Perrières 2018

The vintage has given us any number of ready-to-drink cuvées which should keep Loire traditionalists happy; for Gamay I have already thrown the spotlight in the direction of the 2018 Les Sommets de Loire Côte Roannaise Altitude 430 and the 2018 Domaine de la Charmoise Touraine Première Vendange Gamay, and Cabernet Franc fans should check out the 2018 Serge et Bruno Sourdais Chinon Le Logis de la Bouchardière and the 2018 Fabrice Gasnier Chinon Les Graves. These are all good for drinking now, while this Weekend Wine is more akin to infanticide. But sometimes its good to take an early look even at the most structured and ageworthy cuvées.

Domaine de la Butte is one of the Loire Valley’s best names for Bourgueil; Jacky Blot makes great reds here, polished and sinewy. Les Perrières is one of the appellation’s more historic lieu-dits. While Mi-Pente, Le Haut de la Butte and Le Pied de la Butte are surely Jack’s best-known cuvées, the property sits right on the edge of the Les Perrières vineyard, so its no surprise that it is also represented in the portfolio. The 2018 Bourgueil Perrières from Domaine de la Butte has a dark core and a dusty claret-red rim. The nose is a melding of dark and sinewy fruit intertwined with oak, with dark berries, currants and degraded cherries on one side, and barrels notes of toasted liquorice and smoke on the other. It’s not unusual for the oak to come through at this stage in Jacky’s wines (in this cuvée and in Mi Pente, anyway, these being the cuvées destined for the cellar rather than drinking now). It feels delicately poised on entry, showing a very taut style, wrapped within a tight tannic structure, firm with a fresh energy and plenty of grippy substance. This is intense and tight, youthful but clearly full of potential, with a long future ahead of it. It’s a very fine Les Perrières, but the honest truth is I don’t recommend opening one now if you have anyway. Come back in ten or fifteen years. Or longer. 95/100 (23/11/20)

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