Denis Jamain Reuilly Rosé Les Châtillons 2014
After a week or two of thinking about (and travelling to and from) Bordeaux, I was happy to get back to my ongoing expansion of my guide to the grape varieties of the Loire Valley yesterday. Having done the ‘big three’, namely Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Melon de Bourgogne, I finally got around to something a little more obscure, with Romorantin and Menu Pineau, two intriguing varieties strongly associated with the Sologne (that bit of land between the Cher and the Loire), particularly with the Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny appellations.
So, you might think my weekend drinking should have been a smorgasbord of Romorantin and Menu Pineau (maybe it was!), and so perhaps I should be writing about one of these wines today. But I am keeping my Romo-powder dry for the moment, because I have coming up in a few weeks Cheverny Week, an entire week (well, five days) of new notes, tasting reports, updates and reworked profiles relating to this appellation (and to Cour-Cheverny too of course). So, putting thoughts of these appellations and varieties to one side in anticipation, I thought I should look to an even more obscure Loire variety in their place. Which brings us to Pinot Gris.
Yes, that’s right. Pinot Gris. And no, I haven’t taken leave of my senses.
I can imagine what you might be thinking. That Pinot Gris has perhaps been planted in the Loire Valley by some curious individual in his back garden, just a couple of rows with the idea of making something unusual for his family to drink. Or maybe there is a vigneron who really likes Alsace wine, and this is his way of showing it, with his own home-spun Vin de France. If you do imagine this, then I have to inform you that you’re wrong. The existence of Pinot Gris in the Loire Valley is encapsulated in appellation law in Reuilly, where alongside Pinot Noir it is eligible for the local rosé. Pressed and allowed a little skin contact, the wines take on a delightfully subtle hue, what I believe the French refer to as a vin gris rather than a rosé. The wines can be delicious; I will never forget tasting the just-about-fermented 2013 Reuilly Rosé from vat in the cellars of the recently departed Claude Lafond (who passed away in early October 2015); the little touch of not yet fermented sugar it possessed only served to heighten the delicious gluggability of it.
This wine, the 2014 Reuilly Rosé, comes from another leading domaine in the appellation, Denis Jamain. He inherited from his father a poultry processing plant, a vineyard and a plot of woodland. Quite sensibly in my opinion he sold the first and kept the latter two, subsequently expanding his newly acquired vineyards while the woodland came in handy as a source of wood for his barrels. Today the domaine is organic and partly biodynamic, and the wines are fresh and vibrant. The appearance of this wine is, as I would expect, a very pale rosé, with a sunrise hue of orange-pink. It has a lovely purity on the nose, suggestive of white peach, tangerine too, with a touch of white grape and a fresh, leafy, sherbetty lift. There follows a delightfully lively palate, showing the same leafy peach-fruit as sensed on the nose, with a fine vibrancy, helped by some beautifully cutting acidity. A wine of fabulous freshness and vigour, with a crisp, cleansing finish, and it is long for a rosé. Top stuff, and proof Pinot Gris really belongs in the Loire. Not that I ever doubted it of course. 17/20 (2/11/15)