Monthly Archives: October 2014

Loire trip 2014: Domaine Vincent Carême – A young challenger in Vouvray

This young estate was founded in 1999 and has quickly made a name for itself as an important domain in Vouvray. The owners; Vincent and Tania Carême, met in Tania’s home country, South Africa, where Vincent gained some of his experience before establishing the estate. Their vineyards are partly bought and partly inherited from Vincent’s parents.


The estate is certified organically and our visit coincided with a visit from the auditor who joined us in the visits to the vineyards, of which the most famous is Le Clos, situated directly behind the estate.

Approximately half of the production is sparkling wine, which is produced either with “méthode traditionnelle” (using a second fermentation in the bottle) or “ancestrale” (made in one single fermentation, where the fermentation is paused by decreasing the temperature during bottling, and then finished in the bottle). The latter method requires good control over the temperature in the cellar. The domain’s ancestrale sparkling is produced from older vines. 

The wines tasted

 

2012 Brut

From clay and flint, limestone subsoil and with 6 g/l residual sugar.
Pleasant apricot and pears on the quite fruity nose.

The wine has quite high levels of acidity, but it does not get too dominant. Very fresh and citric taste, mainly from lime, in this quite slim body. The mousse has a nice creaminess.

This is an elegant and slim wine.

89p/100

2011 Ancestrale

From clay and flint, limestone subsoil and with 5,4 g/l residual sugar.

The nose is crisp and not very generous at the moment. There are some careful notes of fruit, minerals and hints of bread.

The acidity gets quite dominant in the beginning but after a while pear and pineapple appear and complements the citric notes.

An extremely precise and acidic sparkling wine with a fantastic mousse.

90p/100

2013 Sec

This is a blend from different vineyards and the wine is aged in wooden barrels for eight months, with no new wood. The wine has 7 g/l residual sugar.

Amazingly fresh nose with quite careful fruit of lime, pineapple and orange.

The acidity is quite round but enough to give energy to the wine. Similar fruit on the palate, but the lime was replaced with lemon.

This is a very precise, slim and beautiful wine.

90p/100

2012 Le Peu Morier

From soil of clay and flint and with 2 g/l residual sugar. Nine months on wooden barrels, of which 10 percent are new.

A quite fruity and expressive nose with exotic fruit and some apples and floral notes in the background.

In the taste, I also find apricot, some slight notes of lime, minerals and hints of flint and wood. There is enough acidity to balance the fruit but it stays in the background.

This is a quite precise Chenin Blanc with a very nice nose.

89p/100

2011 Le Clos

The soil in Le Clos contains clay and limestone and the wine is aged 12 months in wood of which 20 percent are new. The Le Clos usually has between 6-30 g/l residual sugar, depending on vintage. This vintage is at 22 g/l.

The nose is all about freshness and in the beginning, the fruit is very careful. After a while some young apples and lime appear.

The palate opens up with soft lemon and lime notes together with minerals, and after a while, some exotic fruits joins in. In the finish, there are slight notes of oak, which hopefully will disappear with time.

A very elegant and precise wine where the fruit is discrete but very fresh.

90p/100

2006 Le Clos

This wine has 20 g/l residual sugar.

Quite expressive nose with ripe exotic fruit combined with citric notes, which gives a very pleasant first impression of the wine.

The taste is round with hints of honey and juicy ripe pineapple, and in the background there is a soft tingling acidity that evolves in the finish.

The 2006 Le Clos is an open and generous wine, which has a good balance between acidity and some ripe fruit. Quite complex and with personality.

92p/100

2009 Moelleux Le Clos

This wine has 45 g/l residual sugar.

A nose dominated by fresh honey and some apricot, but also beautiful floral notes develops after some time in the glass.

A great taste where the honey is accompanied by fresh lime and minerals. The acidity is very precise and citric but never dominates.

Fantastic wine with a very fresh and energetic expression even with this much sugar. Denseness and purity in a great combination.

93p/100

2003 Domaine de la Haute Borne, Moelleux Premiér Trie

From before the Domaine name was changed to Careme.

The honey and sugar dominate both the nose and the taste in this wine. There is also apricot and some alcohol. This is a very dense and juicy wine where the acidity plays a smaller role and stays in the background.

There is much complexity to this wine but for me it lacks some fresh acidity to balance the power.

90-91p/100

Summary

This is clearly an estate capable of producing top quality Chenin Blanc with fantastic purity and precision. It will be interesting to see how the wines develop with time, since they have all the characteristics for a long life. Personally, I would prefer not to find any notes of wood in the wines since this removes some of the purity and transparency. Still it has to be said that the wood never got dominant.

I am looking forward to follow the development of this interesting and welcoming estate.

Loire trip 2014: Philippe Foreau – A master of Chenin Blanc

Philippe Foreau

Of the Domaines I know in Vouvray, I consider Philippe Foreau to be the one with the clearest profile, conviction and mission. He knows exactly the expression he wants in his wines and how to achieve this. The wines are always fresh, vibrant and express the vintage and terroir.

Domaine du Clos Naudin has for a long time been firmly established as one of the absolute top Domaines in the Vouvray and Loire region. Philippe Foreau took over in 1983 and is the third generation heading the Domain his grandfather bought in 1923.

In our meeting, Philippe mentioned several rules he adhere to in his winemaking. Below are some of the most important:

  • Very limited usage of new wood. Philippe add approximately 4% new barrels each year and the barrels are used for up to 25 years. Bottling is always done before next summer after the harvest, to ensure the wood does not affect the wine too much and produce fat wines. Philippe tells us that “Chenin Blanc likes wood but you need to be very careful”
  • The wine never go through malolactic fermentation, since he want to keep an acidic and vibrant expression.
  • Philippe always adapt to the vintage and only produce sweet wines if the grapes of the vintage allows it, meaning that the grapes need high levels of both sugar and acidity. The acidity has to be there to ensure the wines do not get heavy and dull. 

In our discussion, Philippe returns several times to the importance of freshness and energy and he tells us that his wines have a very long life in a bottle but after opening, the wine should be consumed as fast as possible since they can be fragile and lose the important freshness. Philippe also tells us that he does not want his wines decanted, for the same reason. Philippe is known for his ability to pair food and wine, and during the tasting he gives several suggestions of food pairing, which we also have included in the notes below. 

The wines tasted

2010 Brut

From quite young vines and with residual sugar of 5 g/l.

Fresh and quite citric expression with lemon, lime and some pears.

The taste is very much in line with the nose, again with lime, pears and some yellow apple. It also has a fresh mouthwatering acidity and the mousse is quite rich and very pleasant.

Despite the high level of citric fresh acidity, this is a well-balanced and beautiful wine. Recommended as aperitif or with seafood.

91p/100

2007 Brut Réserve

From a mix of vineyards.

Quite rich and round and with fresh apricot and some biscuit.

Very aromatic palate with fruit, almond and minerals in well-balanced proportions. This wine is very rich and dense without getting fat and heavy. It has both complexity, personality and energy.

This gastronomic wine would be good with smoked salmon and can be stored for approximately 15 years in a good cellar.

92p/100

2012 Sec

In their Sec wines, the residual sugar level is always 3 g/l.

Fresh citric nose that also contains marzipan, pears and some floral notes. A pleasant and generous introduction to the wine.

The palate is quite citric with crisp acidity and some fresh fruit. In the background, I find hints of sea salt and minerals. The minerals stay in the finish together with some plums.

This is a very precise and vibrant wine, dominated by very good acidity

90p/100

2005 Sec

Residual sugar level of 3 g/l.

A nose with almond, floral notes, some careme brûlée and pears. Quite unexpected nose for a Foreau wine but the warm vintage probably had much to do with the expression.

Round and dense on the palate and with very juicy fruit. The acidity is grippy and has notes of lemon. The wine leaves a long trail with fruit and acidity.

This wine stood out in our tasting since it is quite generous and dense, especially on the nose. For me it is not a classical Foreau wine and I lack some crispness in the acidity, but instead it offers a complex palate and nose.

89-90p/100

2005 Demi-Sec

Residual sugar of 20 g/l.

We tried two different bottles of this wine, since Philippe was not pleased with the first bottle that had been open for 3 days. The first bottle was a bit heavy and the sugar had a more dominant position. The tasting note below is for the second bottle.

Very precise and vibrant nose with etheric and floral notes and fresh tropical fruit and apples. There are some slightly artificial notes on the fruit, reminding me of pear ice cream.

Very strong acidic core that is precise and energetic and gives a fantastically fresh expression to the wine. On the palate, I also find lime, pineapple, fresh honey and some peppery notes. There is also an abundance of minerals in this wine. The finish is long and driven by the acidity.

This fantastic wine has both a vibrant energy and complexity.

92p/100

2010 Moelleux

Residual sugar of 60 g/l and produced with the passerillage method, where the weather “dry” the berries and concentrate the sugar but also the acidity.

A nose driven by a very fresh acidic expression, where I also find perfume, white flowers, beeswax and some oranges and pears. Beautiful and expressive nose.

Crispy lime and lemon acidity dominates the mid palate and pushes the wine forward, but the acidity is also complemented by some juicy exotic fruit and beeswax.

An elegant and fresh Moelleux that never gets heavy by the sugar. A gastronomic wine that would go well with duck.

93-94p/100

2009 Moelleux

Residual sugar of 80 g/l. There is a touch of botrytis in this wine.

The nose is quite dense with quite fresh honey, peach, orange rind, and some floral notes. Much more dense than the 2010, but not with the same freshness.

Amazing mid palate with pear, apple and a tingling fresh acidity, but also good structure and grip.

This is a beautiful and complex wine, which is generous and has a very long finish. Could benefit from a bit more pronounced acidity.

This is a dessert wine that would go well with apple pie or a Gorgonzola. Philippe tells us that after approximately 10 more years the wine will develop notes of white truffle.

93p/100

1989 Moelleux Réserve

This is a botrytis wine with residual sugar of 140 g/l.

The wine has a brilliant golden colour.

Complex aromas of dried apricot, orange marmalade, soft honey tones, exotic spices, ginger, and some hits of dill. The nose has so many layers and complexity that you could spent hours before taking your first sip.

The acidity starts as a tingling sensation in the mid palate but then evolves into an energetic driver in the finish. I have never before experienced a wine where the acidity changes character this much during the tasting. The palate is similar to the nose with lots of flavors.

The wine has different phases, starting with a complex nose, continuing with a soft honey-driven mid palate and finishes with a fantastic acidity. A truly amazing wine that has a very long life ahead.

95-96/100p

Summary

I am very impressed with the wines of Philippe Foreau who without a doubt is a leader in the region. As mentioned previously Philippe Foreau is a producer with a very clear profile and expression in his wines. The average level of his wines is very high and the peaks are amazing. The wines also has a great ageing potential and I would recommend anyone to build a cellar of his wines.