La Ferme de la Sansonnière La Lune 2012
It is always good to revisit wines. This is why I have always thought buying a case of wine, rather than just one or two bottles, is such a wise thing to do. There is nothing so instructive as watching a wine develop from being young and exuberant, to being closed down and surly, and then opening out again, after which you can follow it through maturity. By doing this I learnt a lot about wine, and about Bordeaux in particular. I learnt to understand my own tastes and that I enjoyed classed growth Bordeaux in maturity more than in youth. I extrapolated these findings, and thus when I only had two or three bottles of a wine (because I’m not suggesting you buy a case of everything, especially with the price of such wines these days) I learnt when not to open them. More importantly, I learnt that published drinking windows are even more nonsensical than most tasting notes and scores. They are no less subjective, and they reflect entirely the personal palate-prejudices of the taster (at least in the tasting note you can try to throw in some objective comments).
When looking at a wine to assess its quality in its youth, rather than understanding when to open it ten or twenty years later, it is still a very good idea to taste, retaste, and then taste again. This is especially true when assessing young wines from vat or barrel, whether the occasion be the Bordeaux primeurs, or a freshly delivered Muscadet sample, just drawn from its subterranean cuve. This latter task is something I will be doing later this week, as the first Loire Valley wines from the 2015 vintage are about to pop up for tasting in London (well, I say first, but there was this one, of course). And for some wines I will revisit them again and again with growers I visit and taste with in the Loire Valley, or I will buy bottles in the UK to see how they compare six months or twelve months (or ten years for some) later. As I write this I am beginning to wish I had selected one such 2014 Muscadet as my Weekend Wine – I certainly have a few lined up for tasting.
There is another reason to revisit a wine though, and that is to look at variation within a vintage, within a cuvée to be more specific, from one bottle to the next. This is certainly something I have seen over the past twelve months with the 2012 La Lune from Mark Angeli, of La Ferme de la Sansonnière in Anjou. When I tasted this wine for the first time with Mark in February 2014 it showed a fabulous purity, the palate full of white fruit and tense structure. There was a little hint of golden autumnal fruit on the palate, but it was a minor feature of the wine. And it was dry, by the way; I have come a cropper ordering La Lune in restaurants before now, having forgotten that some recent vintages have carried a touch of residual sugar (maybe 10 g/l) only for this to completely ruin the match with the dish I was eating. Other bottles have since come my way, but the most notable was at Timberyard last year. Plucked from a wine list dripping with über-natural wines it seemed much more golden in style, with touches of baked apple. There was definitely a twist of oxidation to it; it still worked for me on the night, but it was definitely different.
In such a situation, I just have to go back for another look. It has just taken a few months to get around to it. And so this weekend I sacrificed one of the bottles I have secreted in the cellar for this very purpose (I don’t have a case by the way – just three in total). This most recent bottle of the 2012 La Lune from La Ferme de la Sansonnière shows a golden yellow hue in the glass, and in style it turns out to be somewhere between my first experiences with the wine, and the Timberyard bottle. It shows a nose of bruised and lightly sautéed apples, along with hints of pear flesh, all feeling quite warm and slightly gingery, with an additional suggestion of a citrus lift. This latter element helps it to remain expressive and bright despite the warmer and oxidative character. Despite this aromatic profile it still has an appealing palate, very much following the lead of the nose, with some warm, bruised-apple notes, but also plenty of energy, a lemon-zest zip giving it a fresh character, with some really tingling grip. It finishes slowly, with a long, substantial and succulent fade into the end. Very good, but I will have to continue to follow this one to see how it goes. 17/20 (18/1/16)