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Yannick Amirault Bourgueil Pavillon du Grand Clos 2010

Yannick Amirault Bourgueil Pavillon du Grand Clos 2010

Last summer I visited a number of domaines around Chinon, Bourgueil and St Nicolas de Bourgueil, determined to get to grips with the leading red wines of the 2014 and 2015 vintages, as well as updating my profiles of my favourite domaines (and adding some new ones). At the time the 2014 vintage was mostly in bottle, although some top cuvées from top domaines, e.g. Le Clos Guillot and La Croix Boissée from Bernard Baudry, and Clos du Chêne Vert and Clos de la Dioterie from Charles Joguet, were still lingering in barrel. And the 2015 vintage was, of course, almost exclusively still in élevage, save for a few entry-level wines.

No problem, I thought, I will just have to return later this year (cue mock remorse, with a tinge of ersatz exasperation), and the timing now promises some first tastes of the 2016s from barrel as well as a chance to revisit 2015 and 2014. Although the 2016 vintage was marked by frost in April (this is also true of the 2017 vintage) which reduced the volumes produced, it seems from the few tastes I have had so far that quality might be very good. The region had very beneficial late-summer and autumn weather, which will have been great for ripening the reds. Which reminds me, I must write up my 2016 Loire vintage report, now that my 2016 Bordeaux reports are almost done.

Yannick Amirault Bourgueil Pavillon du Grand Clos 2010

That’s all well and good, but what are we going to drink in the meantime? Well, there are some interesting wines in the 2011 (much better than you might think) and 2012 vintages (I am going to avoid mentioning 2013), I know this much thanks not only to my visits to the region, but because I come across these vintages when judging in the Decanter World Wine Awards, as I did last week. But, to be honest, I would prefer to look back to either 2009 or 2010, or for more mature styles 2005 or 2003, although if you don’t already have these in your cellar you will need to put all your sleuthing skills into practice if you hope to find any on the market now.

This weekend’s drinking was a reminder (not that I really needed one) of the rewards that come from exploring a region such as the Loire Valley. From one of my aforementioned preferred vintages, and from one of the leading domaines of the Bourgueil and St Nicolas de Bourgueil appellations, comes the 2010 Pavillon du Grand Clos from Yannick Amirault. This is a cuvée of very limited production, produced only in selected vintages. In fact, I am not sure I have ever encountered a vintage other than 2010. Many fans of Bourgueil will be familiar with Le Grand Clos, either the vineyard or at least the cuvée of the same name made by Yannick. What you might not realise is that at the top of Le Grand Clos, a vineyard at the summit of the limestone crest and which is carved up Burgundy-style between a number of vignerons, sits a house with its own parcel of vines. This is where Yannick Amirault lives, and in most vintages the fruit of his ‘garden vines’ goes into his and Benoît Amirault’s Le Grand Clos cuvée, but in the 2010 vintage it has its own label.

The 2010 Yannick Amirault Pavillon du Grand Clos has a black-tulip core with a claretty rim. The nose is determinedly concentrated, rich in fruit character, led by scents of blackberry, but delivered in a challenging, spicy and sooty style, with notes of black pepper and sweet black liquorice essence. Not to mention the Cabernet character coming through in a quite notable fashion, the fruit expressing itself through the scents of bay leaf and green peppercorn. The palate possesses a creamed-fruit texture, a velvety weight, and it is loaded with ripe and plush tannins. It boasts a massive texture but also a sense of openness and balance, with a little touch of high-toned lift to the fruit. A fabulously ripe wine, but it is bright too, and there is some aromatic complexity here, the middle and end perfumed with violets and rose petals. A serious, hugely structured wine which is brimming with tannic potential. I am glad to have a few more of these tucked away in the cellar. 18/20 (1/5/17)

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