Mixed-Bag Blogging Monday: Domaine de Montcy Cuvée Clos des Cèdres, Domaine Claude Lafond "La Raie" & Joseph Balland-Chapuis Coteaux du Giennois 2004
Like the mixed bag of inclement weather hitting the Atlantic Coast and Northeast, today's post presents a bit of a mixed bag. (By the way, news on the next Wine Blogging Wednesday, which is happening on this site, is just around the corner -- for now, see the final round-up entries as Billy wraps up WBW #32.)
Before the greatness that is Wine Blogging Wednesday, there is always a Mixed-Bag Blogging Monday to get through. But as far as today's MBM goes, things could be worse. (None of the wines in this mix came close to being as unforgiving as today's soggy and awful forecast.)
Back in early March, I set out on a bit of Sauvignon Blanc spree, focusing in on what France's Loire Valley has on offer. I think a similar pursuit with New Zealand Sauvignon inspired me to do this. So over a couple of weeks, my friends and I sampled three of the region's Sauvignons, some with Chardonnay blended in, some without.
We were surprised that the bottle which got the least praise (three stars in Michel Phaneuf's Le Guide du Vin) outshone by far the other two bottles (which had garnered four stars apiece). This was even more surprising considering that we all were in agreement and that we drank the exact vintages that were rated. They were all 2004s, a lovely and auspicious year for this refreshing, compelling style of wine.
At the top of the pack was the Domaine de Montcy Cuvée Clos des Cèdres Cheverny 2004. It was the bottle we described as "perfect" -- it perfectly delivered all we were looking for in a nice appetizing Sauvignon. I've already bought three more bottles of Montcy's Clos des Cèdres since last month's uncorking. And I intend to get more while supplies last.
The first time I tasted this I got bright citrus flavours. The second time, weeks later, which obviously was influenced by memory and expectation, I was more immediately struck by reediness and minerality that had a touch of wood. The burst of citrus I was prepared for was still there. (But you know what they say about first impressions -- or rather is it something about never being as good as the first time?) In any case those delicious grapefruit edges provided some interesting character and this wine scores, every time.
Montcy's Loire winemaker displays a descriptive profile which indicates linden and I guess I'll buy that tasting note -- it's definitely more than just zest because there are some vegetal and herbal components that are well integrated too. It's a winning package that serves up the refreshment and nice raspy edge you expect from a Sauvignon out of the Loire (Cheverny is just northwest of Sancerre, by the way).
Perhaps this winner of a cuvée has a secret in the form of its 30% Chardonnay in the mix.
Domaine Claude Lafond "La Raie" Reuilly 2004 was the one we called the "appley" one. (Click on the image at right for more details on this wine.) Raie, which is the French word for skate, as in the funny-looking plate-like fish, was much flatter than the other wines. Hey, this cuvée is well named! This Sauvignon actually verges on pear and that was quite unexpected. This was my first experience with a Reuilly wine and my first experience with this producer (Claude Lafond) so maybe lush fruit is a characteristic I should've been expecting. In any case, we were all surprised as it is, after all, Sauvignon Blanc. Definitely a subject for further research.
It came off like heavy wet snow, didn't tingle or brace our palates much as we ramped up to dinner. Not bad overall, but not the Sauvignon that we seek out. (That would be the bottle you see at the very top of the page -- click on it for more details.)
Joseph Balland-Chapuis Coteaux du Giennois 2004 was the final of the three we tasted and we labeled it the "grassy" one. (Click on the image at left for more details on this wine.) More similar to the first bottle than the second -- ain't nothing wrong with grass, especially when it comes to Sauvignon, but this was just not quite as good at the first bottle. It was a touch on the tart and unforgiving side.
Just like today's sleet and snow, it could sting in just the slightest way and it could definitely make you make faces.
R. et S. Simon, La Porte Dorée, Cheverny, France. 12%.