Last Saturday the Oxford group met to drink some Chenin. Which was nice. Alongside Riesling, it is the most awesome white grape but Alko - curse be upon it - consistently neglects it. During the entire time I have been of legal drinking age there has been only one Loire Chenin in Alko's selection and that was a supremely crappy one. So it was a good opportunity to try more of the grape.
2009 Frantz Saumon Montlouis-sur-Loire Minérale + - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Montlouis-sur-Loire (4/14/2012)
8 g/l RS. A very tasty wine with lovely green apple aromas and, aptronymically, minerality. It has wonderful acidity for the year and doesn't really seem much like a hot year wine. Other tasters thought the slight sugar was obvious; to me it tasted dry. But we all thought it perfectly balanced. Lovely.
2009 Domaine de la Taille aux Loups Montlouis-sur-Loire Sec "Remus" - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Montlouis-sur-Loire (4/14/2012)
25% new wood and the unpleasant oak sensations - the vanilla and bitterness - pretty much obliterate everything else. It did have nice acidity, though. What a shame, especially because I had ordered the less oaky Dix Arpents for this tasting.
2004 Domaine de Bellivière Jasnières Calligramme - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Jasnières (4/14/2012)
Quite a deep colour. Oxidative and soft and seemingly quite aged already. But it was obviously Chenin, though in a very honeyed and red apple way. Rich, a bit soft, though the acid does come through on the finish. I liked it, but did feel it was a bit awkward - I guess it just needs more time despite the seeming aged character? (Apparently it had improved the following day.)
2002 Domaine de Bellivière Coteaux du Loir Vieilles Vignes Eparses - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Coteaux du Loir (4/14/2012)
A lovely wine, still tight and young and more focused than the Calligramme. Clean, pure and mineral aromas; crunchy fruit and interminable finish. Love it.
2002 Domaine du Closel-Château des Vaults Savennières Clos du Papillon - France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Savennières (4/14/2012)
A lovely Savennières aroma of hay and wet wool. Good acid, clean fruit, vibrant, moreish despite the high alcohol (14,5% on the label but I didn't find it bothersome). Some people apparently have had these ageing far too fast; this bottle was still young and seemed like it could still go on for decades.
2002 Domaine Jo Pithon Anjou Les Bonnes Blanches - France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Anjou (4/14/2012)
A really lovely wine, open and even quite voluptuous but still obviously Chenin. Intense, appley and precise palate despite the richness. I love it.
2002 Huët Vouvray Demi-Sec Le Haut-Lieu - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray (4/14/2012)
A really lovely wine. Wax and hay and apple aromas, very pure. Lovely acidity and the slight sugar balances it beautifully. Intense and moreish. Seems like this could go on for decades. Lovely.
2003 François Pinon Vouvray 1er Trie - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray (4/14/2012)
Sadly the only sweet Loire of the tasting was corked. NR (flawed)
2011 Mullineux Family Wines Chenin Blanc Kloof Street - South Africa, Coastal Region, Swartland (4/14/2012)
Smells more of pear-drops than Chenin - cold fermentation? Quite neutral palate. I've heard so much good about Mullineux that I was expecting to like this more but ended up feeling very neutral about it.
2008 Mullineux Family Wines White - South Africa, Coastal Region, Swartland (4/14/2012)
84% Chenin Blanc with some Clairette, Grenache Blanc and Viognier. This does see oak, and that is a bit too forward now for my tastes, but at least this, unlike the Kloof Street, isn't just neutrality, this actually has some Chenin aromas showing. But it isn't as taut as the Loires, instead showing sunny fruit and oak, but these are backed by good acidity. I don't normally get along with SA Chenin but I certainly wouldn't mind trying this one again in a non-tasting environment. I have a feeling that some age will bring out the nice fruit and elegance if only the oak would disappear.
2008 Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc The FMC - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch (4/14/2012)
I thought this quite horrible. Super-sweet and super-oaky aromas; rich, sweet, soft with a nasty bitter oakiness dominating the finish.
2003 Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet (Hervé Souhaut) Sainte Epine - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, St. Joseph (4/14/2012)
Served blind. This did have a sweetness to the aroma that I felt it was a hot vintage, 2005 or 2003, but also a lovely freshness and dark fruit that made me think of the Loire. Lovely acidity counters the very ripe and sweet fruit. The finish, gladly, shows more the refreshing side of the wine than the overtly fruity one. I liked this quite a bit despite its richness and sweet ripeness. But oddly, I still felt it smelled more like a hot vintage Loire Cab Franc than Syrah even when the label was revealed.