Monthly Archives: September 2014

Loire trip 2014: Champalou – A family estate delivering both quality and personality

This is my second visit to the Champalou estate. The first was two years ago and at the time Champalou was quite unknown to me. This time, Céline, who is one of the daughters in this family run, presented the estate and their wines. There are five persons working in the estate and Céline is responsible for the work in the wine cellar, while her father, Didier, leads the work in the vineyards. Celine’s mother, Catherine, “manages” the sales of the estate. The estate has a total of 21 ha of vineyards and was established in 1983 by Didier and Catherine Champalou. The estate is certified as sustainable viticulture by the Terra Vitis association.

In Vouvray and neighbouring Montlouis, many producers bottle the wines from each vineyard separately, but at Champalou they have instead chosen to focus on the characteristics of the vineyards and blend grapes from similar terroir. Grapes from vineyards where limestone is dominant are used for the sweeter wines, since they want to ensure the freshness in these wines. Grapes from more chalky soil are used for drier wines and sparkling. In general, the chalky soil produce more generous wines with an early drinking window, whereas wines from limestone terroir has better ageing potential.

My experience with the Champalou wines is that they have a fantastic acidity and clear minerals. The fruit is often very fresh, quite citric, but also careful and slim. The wines seem to age very well.

Céline explains that in the 2013 vintage they had to work very hard in the vineyard, for example they powdered with chalk and lime five times to protect the berries and grapes from the humidity. This together with a good timing in harvest made sure they harvested fresh fruit and they are very pleased with the quality event though the volumes are low.

The wines tasted 

Non vintage – Brut

The sparkling wine is a mix of three different vintages (2008, 2009 and 2010) and the grapes are from vineyards with soil where chalk and clay are dominant.

The nose is quite dry and has notes of apple, bread and some tropical fruit in the background. Not very generous, but very pleasant.

On the palate more fruit appears but it is very much in-line with the nose. Acidity is quite direct and with good grip and energy. Quite small bubbles but an abundance of them.

This is a very clean and crisp wine where the acidity now is quite dominant, but probably will calm down with time.

89p/100

 

2013 Vouvray

Fermented in stainless steel. This wine has 8 g/l of residual sugar. The fruit is harvest in the morning to achieve maximum freshness.

We are met with quite careful but well balanced nose with fresh pears, exotic fruits like pineapple and some stone and minerals.

The acidity is direct but still quite soft and a bit tingling and it is backed up by similar fruit as on the nose but also an abundance of citrus, mainly lemon but also lime.

This wine has an amazing freshness from the acidity, but also a good base with fruit. Very elegant and precise.

89p/100

 

2011 Le Portail

From the vineyard closest to the estate, with soil dominated by clay. Fermented in 100 percent new oak barrels of 500 liters.

The nose is quite dense and has clear notes of oak but also ripe tropical fruit and some sweet notes. It has a very round and fleshy taste and the acidity stays in the background.

For me this wine has a too prominent oak flavour. It is hard to say how it will develop with time but hopefully the oak takes a less dominant role when aged. In order to appreciate this wine I would need some food.

87p/100

2012 La Cuvée des Fondraux

From soil dominated by limestone and a process of slow fermentation in low temperatures in old wood barrels, previously used to produce Le Portail. Approximately 25 g/l in residual sugar. Céline explains that the La Cuvée des Fondraux often is quite “cold” in young age, but opens up more with time, “just like the people of Loire”.

There is greenish tones in the colour of this wine.

The nose is extremely fresh with lots of exotic fruit, lime and minerals. Bursting with energy and surprisingly expressive already.

The residual sugar comes through clearly but is well balanced by a very precise and vibrant acidity that also gives energy. The taste also contains an abundance of cool citrus, mainly lime that gives a very fresh and energetic expression.

Quite long finish where tones of honey and lime compete with each other but end up with a draw.

This is a fantastic and already quite generous wine with good balance between the citric acidity and the sugar. Will be interesting to follow over the years.

92p/100

 

2009 Les Tries

From a selection of the Limestone soils, like Les Fondraux, and fermented in the old barrels. The wine is a result of the passerillage method, where the weather “dry” the berries and concentrate the sugar but also the acidity. To ensure freshness the fermentation is at quite low temperature and slowly, a method used also for the other wines at Champalou. This wine has residual sugar of 150 g/l.

The nose is expressive with clear notes of sweet honey but also some ripe exotic fruits and some lime in the background.

On the palate and mainly in the acidity this wine shows its greatness. It starts with a careful tingling sensation on the tongue but then gradually take a more and more dominant position as the wine reaches the finale. This journey is accompanied by a quite broad palate with similar notes as on the nose, but where the honey is more apparent in the beginning and the fruit in the end.

It is impressive to manage to create such a fresh expression in a wine with this much sugar. Beautiful! This wine would be fantastic as an aperitif or combined with cheese.

94p/100

2003 Les Tries 

From a selection of the Limestone soils, like Les Fondraux, and fermented in the old barrels. A botrytis wine with residual sugar of 180 g/l.

An abundance of apricot and ripe exotic fruit, but also some honey on this very soft and fleshy nose.

Very round and soft on the palate, showing clear similarities with the nose. The acidity is only present in the background, but gives some direction to the wine.

This is a very sweet wine and with less acidity, which makes it more of a dessert wine than a fresh aperitif.

92p/100

 

Summary

Once again I am very impressed with the wines from Champalou. We are talking about extremely precise wines with amazing freshness, also for the sweet wines. This is a producer to follow closely and with wines this ages worthy it is time to build a collection in the cellar.

A very spicy burgundy wine with complex nose from Guyon

In our previous post, we tasted Cathiard’s version from this cool, windy, chalky site. This time it is the 2008 vintage, not in general equally great as the 2010 vintage, but usually underrated. This time we focus on another producer that is clearly under the radar; Domaine Guyon. Actually, we did taste their base red here. In 1991, Jean Pierre followed by his brother Michel took over the vineyards from their father. They use 100% new oak, extraction endures for 18 days in steel vats and vines are about 40 years old in their parcels in en Orveaux.

2008 1er cru En Orveaux, Domaine Guyon

The colour is beautifully blood orange with red purple nuances and edges are orange-pink.

The nose emerges with a lot of sulphur the first hour as well as notes of medicine cabin, typical chalky saline minerals and oil paint. After numerous hours, the typical saline and chalky notes from this site takes a step back and let the vosne herbs arrive to the scene dominated by freshly cut ginger, dry mint and ground cumin. In addition, there is some really enchanting sweet-peppery pastry notes combined with Indian spices that gets through at times that is just lovely. When giving this wine plenty of time in the decanter, the dominating base of chalky and dark minerals as well as the dominating saline acidity, let other complex scents through and the nose is in fact really good and interesting.

On the palate, the high level of chalky and distinct saline acidity that is so typical for this windy site is still dominating and coating the bluish and pure fruit. Unfortunately, the taste does not shape up to the impressive nose, but there are loads of delightful spices and anise seeds in here, but it is not really well balanced and the finish is a little too saline.  The high level of new oak is at this stage quite well integrated and doesn’t disturb the palate. However, texture is impressively silky without any spurs on the tongue whatsoever and it is quite persistent too.

A really interesting nose, but it falls short on the palate that is, unfortunately, less balanced now and lacks complexity. Open in 2018.

89-90p/100

A very good En Orveaux from Cathiard from the great 2010 vintage

The 2010 vintage is equally great in Burgundy and Barolo in terms of balance and phenolic maturity. We love it.

The premier cru vineyard En Orveaux is located in the very north corner of the Vosne-Romanée appellation, inside a ridge close to the Chambolle area in the north in a slope with cool winds building an abundance of acidity. The soil is made up of a thin layer of rocky clay over a hard bed of limestone with very good drainage. Cathiard’s vines are about 60 years old here and grows deep into the limestone, rendering a special mineral characteristics to the wines. It is always the last vineyard to be picked, mostly due to the cooling winds and a little less hours of daily sun.

2010 1er cru En Orveaux, Sylwain Cathiard

The colour is beautifully blood orange with red purple nuances and edges are light orange-pink.

The nose starts off with salubrin, medicine cabin, dusty earth, crushed stone and chalky minerals. After another three hours, rowan berries, dried spices and saline notes arrive to the scene.

On the palate, we are offered site-typical loads of chalky and saline minerals that coat the quite e deep bluish fruit, black tea, lingonberries and orange peel. It is quite aromatic, but driven by the bright, chalky and a little saline acidity. Balance and persistence is currently only fine, but structure is great and texture is velvety, but a little dusty. It is pleasantly mouth-filling with medium body.

As usual, the purity is impressive and integration of oak is impeccable in Cathiard’s wines.

92-93p/100