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Domaine Loizeau Clain Coteaux de l’Aubance Clos de l’Etang 2020

Domaine Loizeau Clain Coteaux de l’Aubance Clos de l’Etang 2020

After three decades of visiting and exploring the Loire Valley, largely spent tasting, buying and drinking its wines, I still feel as though I have only scratched the surface of this extensive and wonderful wine region.

This week’s Weekend Wine is a case in point. Every time I travel to the region I make a habit, at some point during my trip, of treading on some virgin ground. Making appointments to meet vignerons new to the region, such as Cédric Bourez at Le Clos Galerne, those with new responsibilities, such as Vanessa Cherruau at Château de Plaisance, or the next generation as they step up to the plate, such as Vincent Foreau or Pierre Alliet. And I like to chance my arm with random bottles, tasting wines previously unknown, always in the hope of discovering a new name in the region. Or at least one new to me.

The fact that I never have to look very far to discover candidates for these random adventures is a potent reminder that I remain an inveterate surface-scratcher.

Domaine Loizeau Clain Coteaux de l'Aubance Clos de l'Etang 2020

The trio who run Domaine Loizeau Clain seem content to fly under the radar, perhaps because they do a good trade selling their bottles locally. The vignerons of the Coteaux de l’Aubance have always struggled to emerge from the shadows of the Coteaux du Layon, which is ten times larger and much better known. To deal with this many in the region developed a strong local sales network, putting their wines in the restaurants, cavistes and wine bars of nearby towns and villages, especially those dotted along the south bank of the Loire, from Saint Saturnin-sur-Loire all the way down to Mûrs-Erigné. The fact that the domaine is located on the outskirts of Brissac-Quincé – walking distance from the town centre – also provides the domaine with plenty of thirsty customers.

The cellars of Domaine Loizeau Clain are situated right on the banks of the Aubance, as it is channelled towards and then through Brissac-Quincé. A fairly modern set-up, the domaine was created by Dominique and Thierry Loizeau with their partner Anthony Clain, and has a rather fractured vineyard comprised of multiple small parcels scattered across a number of appellations. The range of wines produced here is thus unsurprisingly broad, with the usual gamut of Angevine styles; unsurprisingly Coteaux de l’Aubance has a presence, although I note they also have vines in the Coteaux du Layon appellation, and even in Bonnezeaux.

In the glass the 2020 Coteaux de l’Aubance Clos de l’Etang from Domaine Loizeau Clain displays a pale golden hue, shimmering and bright. The nose is quite beautifully defined, and immediately sets the scene for the style here; rather than displaying richer botrytis tones, the aromatics feature intensely perfumed and crystalline fruits, led by mango and blood orange. It feels light, pure and classically defined, and indeed that is what the palate delivers. It opens with a deliciously correct poise, presenting sweet fruits mirroring the nose, no less crystalline, wrapped up in bitter and pithy citrus notes. The residual sugar is gentle rather than prodigious, the overall effect a delicate moelleux style with lovely freshness, acid drive, minerality and a sense of balance which together screams Ligérian typicity. It would work fabulously as an apéro, in the French style, but I could see it working well with all many of dishes as well, from salty cheeses to roast chicken. The alcohol on the label is 13%. 92/100

A good find, yet more proof that much in this region still waits to be discovered, even after all this time. I wonder, given that thirty years have passed since I first visited the Loire Valley, whether I should just accept this feeling will never leave me? (3/10/22)

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