‘2014 –The Five Smiley Vintage’ – Loire tasting. London 2015

The five smiley vintage – organized by Charles and Philippa Sydney, the Classic Loire Valley tasting took place in London, the 21st of January 2015. It was a good experience as it was the first time after harvest when I had opportunity to taste so many Loire wines from 2014 vintage at the same time.

2014 – The Five Smiley Vintage

“Now that is a pretty cool vintage! The only problem is finding a name that encapsulates the complexities of a single vintage that runs across more than 600 kilometers… (…)

We almost fell for the ‘Dream Vintage’ as so many growers told us they couldn’t have rêvé mieux. Not easy, huh? Especially when you’re talking about one of the finest Loire vintages ever. (…)

We’re not talking 2009 or 2011 hyper-stickies, but when you’ve cuvées coming in at 22°, you start seeing an awful lot of smileys on my tasting sheets. So we’ll call it the Five Smiley Vintage.”

(From Charles Syndey, Coutier en Vins de Loire, and Philippa Sydney vintage report)

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I was impressed by the quantity (and quality, obviously!) of wines presented during this tasting. Each wine was a classic example of the terroir. I tasted cheap and expensive wines, IGP and AOC appellation wines, dry& sweet, whites, roses, sparkling and reds. There were wines from both well-known and not so famous appellations therefore it was a first time that I tasted wines from Haut Poitou, Quincy and Reuilly!

I estimate there were about 2-3 hundred wines to taste and below you will find only those which made the biggest impression on me.

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La Grille Single Estate Muscadet Pierre Lieubeau 2014 was an amazing, well balanced and full of minerality wine. Domaine de la Tourmaline Muscadet Sevre & Maine Sur Lie Christophe Gadais 2014 was light, mineral and fresh while Jeremie Mourat Collection Blanc IGP Chardonnay-Chenin 2014 was heavier with lots of beautiful green bean and herbal aromas.

Cave de Oisly&These Touraine Sauvignon Domaine Vallagon 2014 had a brilliant nose – full of asparagus and green bean aromas that remind of New Zealand sauvignons. Sancerre-style Domaine Bellevue Touraine Sauvignon 2014 was a fresh, mineral and light wine that will be perfect for summer evenings. Another one that I cannot forget is Cave de Mont-pres-Cambord Cheverny Clos de Nozieux 2014 with its amazing freshness and subtle flavours of asparagus, green bean and herbs.

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There were two wines from Nathalie& Claude Lafond – an old style Valencay Blanc de Clos du Chateau 2014 with its freshness and apple acidity and a modern wine, Reuilly Nathalie 2014 – sticky, mineral and very original. Not far from Reuilly lies a not known appellation Quincy and I tasted Domaine Andre Pigeat Quincy 2014 which was a fresh, quite easy to drink wine with lots of apple flavours.

Next five wines are older vintages but they were stunning. Domaine Jean Max Roger Sancerre le Clocher d’Amelie 2013 impressed me with its herbal notes, Alain Cailbourdin Pouilly Fume Triptyque 2012 had an amazing tropical and mineral aromas with beautiful minerality on the palate. Clement Marchand Pouilly Fume Kimmeridgian 2013 was a very interesting wine with its mineral and apple flavours. Alphonse Mellot Sancerre Satellite 2012 was very original – low acidity, lots of apples and long finish; it was a very good wine but I appretiated more the other wine of this producer, Alphonse Mellot Sancerre Generation XIX 2013 which had a beautiful red and yellow apple acidity and I think it will go well with food.

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Dwa ostatnie wina, o których warto wspomnieć, to Chateau Pierre Bise Savennieres Clos de Grand Beaupreau 2012 oraz Domaine de la Bergerie Savennieres Le Grand Beaupreau 2012. First one had a botrytis kind of aroma with a hint of honey, apple and herbal notes on a long finish. The second wine was heavier on the palate with lots of honey aromas.

After the first part of the tasting we went for a lunch in between two tasting rooms. The food was very tasty and there was a huge vegetarian menu so I had lots of great food to choose from! There was also a while for a coffee and amazing apple/pear pie. What a pity my stomach isn’t bigger!

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In the second room there were more producers with their wines and a surprise – producers from Spain! The best producer was Jérôme Choblet, who I met few months ago during the visit in his Domaine des Herbauges in Loire Valley. His wines are simply amazing – it was the first producer that has showed me the huge range of muscadet wines. I will write more about him soon.

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Another interesting producer is Séverine Branchereau from Domaine des Forges with her fresh and mineral wines. Barrel fermented Chenin Blanc L’Audance 2013 and Savennieres Moulin du Gue 2013 were very fresh and mineral with some nice oaky flavours. Savennieres Clos du Papillon Sec 2013 was very fresh and dry while Coteaux du Layon St Aubin 2014 impressed me with its sweetness and amazing acidity.

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Both vintages 2013 and 2014 of Coteaux du Layon 1er Cru Chaume were beautiful and the wine is not that expensive! La Roche aux Maines was very interesting wine, especially that there is only 8 produces in this area producing a small quantity of wines.

The last wine is Quarts de Chaume AOC Grand Cru – one of the world’s greatest sweet whites it has deservedly become the first ‘Grand Cru’ in Loire Valley. Wine is beautiful with its flowery aromas, a hint of lime flower, honey, apricot and some spices. In the mouth it is perfectly balanced, rich, powerful and fresh at the same time. Definitely worthwhile trying!

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Spain was represented only by three producers but they cover a plenty of Spanish wine regions therefore I tasted wines from Rias Baixas, Ribera del Duero, Penedes, Priorat, Rioja, Toro, Bierzo and two others which I barely know: Ribeiro and Ribeira Sacra. Wines were tasty, with ripe fruit and nice tannins. They were interesting and definitely worthwhile trying but I was too much focused on Loire wines and I had not much time left for those Spanish wines. I would love to visit the bogedas in Spain so I could write about them a proper article :)

The Loire tasting in London was a very good experience. Lots of very good wines, very good organization, amazing food – this is how a professional tasting should look like!

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All the wines from 2014 vintage in Loire Valley, that I’ve tasted, were not only complex and perfectly balanced but also the concentration of the fruit, minerality and the freshness on the palate were astonish! This is a particular vintage, the smiley one!

Credits:

(1) Charles Syndey, Coutier en Vins de Loire, and Philippa Sydney  – fragments from 2014 vintage report

(2) More about La Grille you will find here

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