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François Cazin Cour-Cheverny Cuvée Renaissance 2014

François Cazin Cour-Cheverny Cuvée Renaissance 2014

If you aren’t totally immersed in the wines of the Loire Valley (in the way that I am), then it might be that you approach the region in one of two different ways. First, it is a region that many people tap into as a source of crisp whites and easy-drinking reds, where value-for-money can be just as significant as quality or style. To me this isn’t the right way to engage with the region if you want to get the best out of it, but I will put this thought to one side for the moment in an attempt to avoid losing my train of thought. Secondly, I know it is a region to which many drinkers of sweet wines turn now and again, presumably when they have momentarily tired of drinking Château d’Yquem, or a suitably mature vintage of Scharzhofberger Riesling Eiswein from Egon Müller.

The moelleux hunters look to a relatively small number of appellations for their kicks; in Anjou, the Coteaux du Layon and its associated crus, Quarts de Chaume and Bonnezeaux, or for the really adventurous the Coteaux de l’Aubance. Moving from schist to limestone and flint, there are as an alternative the wines of Vouvray and Montlouis, or for those with geek-tendencies maybe the wines of Jasnières, or even the Coteaux du Loir. While the terroir may vary, these wines all have one two things in common. First, they are all really rather famous, certainly more so than the likes of Cour-Cheverny, for example. Well, maybe not the Coteaux de l’Aubance, Jasnières and the Coteaux du Loir, but my point still stands (just). Secondly, they are all made with Chenin Blanc. And there is more to moelleux in the Loire Valley than this variety. If you are a moelleux hunter, you might do well to broaden your horizons.

François Cazin Cour-Cheverny Cuvée Renaissance 2014

Just about any white variety grown in the Loire Valley has been be vinified as a moelleux cuvée, and believe it or not at least one or two of the red varieties have travelled down that same road. I have certainly tasted sweet wines made from Melon de Bourgogne in the Nantais, and from Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris in Touraine. And I have also tasted a sweet red wine made with botrytised Cabernet Franc, a completely off-the-wall non-commercialised experiment made by Jo Pithon. While it was certainly ‘interesting’, I don’t think I could go so far as to say it was a success. This week’s wine, though, is another example of the moelleux style, made from a variety which by virtue of its late-ripening acid-rich character is eminently suited to the style, The variety is, of course, Romorantin.

François Cazin produces his Cuvée Renaissance only in the very best vintages; picking later in the search for greater concentration, it is a wine with a gentle residual sugar, often between just 15 g/l and 25 g/l. This places it really within the upper echelons of what we would usually think of as demi-sec rather than moelleux, and the high-acid nature of Romorantin only reinforces this impression. The 2014 Cour-Cheverny Cuvée Renaissance from François Cazin was picked between October 15th and the 20th, taking fruit only from the oldest vines. The yield was a rather modest 30 hl/ha, while the residual sugar is a gentle 19 g/l. In the glass it has a pale lemon-gold hue, while the nose is nothing short of great, with beautiful apricot, lychee and lemon fruits, touched with lanolin polish and quartzy mineral. It has an overarching reductive style, smoky, restrained and taut. The substance on the palate is quite delightful, textured with pithy grip and fine acidity, providing a very tense style, still primary, with a lightly caramelised fruit edge. It is matchsticky, tense, long, bitter and acid-fresh. With its light residual, the joy here is the minerality, the acidity and the balance, which of course all focus down into a really quite wonderful and long finish. All in all, an excellent moelleux cuvée, light and acid-bright, with not a hint of Chenin to be seen. 95/100 (25/2/19)

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