Loire Valley Report No. 1

10/31/2006 -

Recent additions to our Loire Valley portfolio include a unique selection of older wines as well as new arrivals from the lovely 2005 vintage - while it may not rival 1989, the 2005 reds surpasses any recent vintage and the whites are uniformly as good or better than the excellent 2002s.

From Pierre and Monique Luneau-Papin in the Muscadet we have received a small quantity of their Cuvée L d'Or from the 1989, 1995 and 1997 vintages. The 1997 is the most forward, the 1995 beautifully balanced and still young, and the 1989 will be extraordinary with another 5 years of aging. The 2005 Pierre de la Grange Vieilles Vignes and Clos des Allées Vieilles Vignes are currently available and show the great balance and purity typical of this domaine, while the 2004 L d'Or is a powerful wine of stony complexity that will age beautifully.

A trio of perfectly stored wines from Bernard Baudry and Pierre-Jacques Druet has just arrived. The 1995 Chinon Cuvée Signature (now known as Croix Boisées) of Baudry is close to maturity while the 1996 Bourgueil Grandmont and Bourgueil Vaumoreau of Druet (his top cuvée of very old vines) will take longer due to the higher acidity of this very good vintage for Loire reds.

The sun was shining and the birds were singing on a warm day in Chavignol, in February, many years ago when Pierre Boulay introduced Joe Dressner and me to Claude Thomas. Claude didn't talk very much, but he kept opening older and older wines which tasted better and better... And now the 2005's are arriving, a vintage of ideal conditions in Sancerre, as Jean-Paul Labaille (Claude's son-in-law) says "like 2002 but with more sugar and more acidity." A sample of the Monts Damnées tasted last winter showed a very full palate with excellent minerality and acidity. We'll have good quantity of the Monts Damnées, but the famous Cuvée Buster, from the oldest vines in the vineyard, will be limited to 3 bottles each.

Recently featured on our website, the 2005 sec and demi-sec Vouvrays from Huet and Foreau are in stock and merit your attention. Many people lament missing, or not buying enough of, the 2002s from these growers as they are drinking beautifully and will continue to improve for many years. The Foreau 05's are already disappearing, and although we currently have good stock of the '05 Huets, they will not last forever...

Catherine and Pierre Breton (or is it Pierre and Catherine?) make the finest wines in Bourgueil. One could argue that these are among the finest red wines in the world in their price range, given the elegance, complexity and individuality that they always possess. Just arrived is the 2005 Bourgueil Franc de Pied - the ungrafted vines give a lower-alcohol wine with pure blackberry fruit and perfect balance. The sulfite-free 2004 Nuits D'Ivresse is bursting with fruit and the 2004 Chinon Beaumont (though quite reductive when opened) gets better and better, showing dark fruit with animal and earthy overtones. Three great wines from 2002 are still available, the Chinon Picasses, Bourgueil Perrières and Bourgueil Clos Senechal. (The Clos Senechal has gone up in price to us, since it is now distributed in NYC. Just to be sociable, we'll offer the last cases at $19.99 per bottle, net, no discounts.)

The Digression Mature Cru Beaujolais from a good vinage is a wonderful thing and 2005 is a very good vintage in the Beaujolais. Most wines will need some time to soften their tannins and acidity, but should drink well for five to ten years, depending on the grower. (And for current drinking, try the lovely Beaujolais from Jean-Paul Brun or Pierre-Marie Chermette) In stock or arriving soon; Chignard Fleurie, Diochon Moulin-A-Vent, Coudert Fleurie Tardive, Vissoux (Chermette) Fleurie Poncié, Michel Tete Juliénas, Lapierre Morgon, Terres Dorées Côte de Brouilly. See the list below for details, more arriving in November/December.

Thanks for reading! Please email with any questions or comments to david@chambersstwines.com.

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