We finished our appointment at Puzelat and headed to Amboise. It was a beautiful sunny evening, and we were quite excited, because we were staying in a castle right in the middle of town. Nicole, who booked accommodation for the trip, is officially the queen of Airbnb, and we had plenty of room for the four of us plus kidnapped Mees. We dumped our stuff and headed off to get some provisions: cheeses, meats, salads, crisps, fruit and several baguettes. On the way back, we found a bar and had a round of beers. Because it was so nice sitting outside in the evening sun we followed this with a bottle of Vouvray Pet Nat. It was blissful. We then drank all the Puzelat wines we had bought that day from the domaine, while sitting in the garden eating and chatting.
The next morning, our first visit was with Jacky Blot at Domeina de la Taille Aux Loups in Montlouis. Bordered by two rivers, the Lot and Cher, and the forest of Amboise, this is a compact appellation of 350 hectares. Its neighbour, Vouvray, is bigger at 2000 hectares, but both specialise in a single variety, the fabulous Chenin Blanc.
Blot was previously a wine broker, and began his own domaine when he acquired 8 hectares of old vines in 1989. He’s since added to these holdings, and now has 25 hectares in Montlouis and 5 in Vouvray. (He also has 14 hectares in Bourgueil: in 2002 he purchased Domaine de la Butte.)
Viticulture is organic in all his parcels. In 2010 he bought the Clos du Mosny, which is the Loire Valley’s largest clos. With 12.5 hectares of well situated wines, this impressive property is where we had a look at the vineyards. It has a chalk subsoil with a clay topsoil, and quite a bit of silex in the upper layers.
All the wines here are dry, and fermented in oak, and Blot has 1000 barrels. He buys around 100 new barrels each year, so there’s a 10 year cycle. For Blot it is very important to him to get the wines properly dry, and fermentations are sometimes very long in the cold cellars: he says he is looking for sucrosity without sucre. He avoids malolactic fermentation. Three coopers are used, all Burgundian: Cadus, Demy and Chassin. The wines are bottled with low levels of sulphites.
We ended up staying for lunch, and had to cancel a planned trip to see the Château of Chenonceux, but for wines like these it was worth it.
La Taille aux Loups Triple Zero NV Touraine, France
Base 2014. No dosage or liquer de tirage or chaptalization. Tight and complex with a savoury quality to the pear and citrus fruit. There’s some straw-like quality here as well as nice compact, focused fruit. Lovely balance and lots of interest to this wine. It tastes like Chenin. 91/100
La Taille Aux Loups Brut Tradition NV
Complex and savoury with some toastiness as well as straw and spice, alongside bold pear and white peach fruit. Nice depth and complexity here: a rich, focused sparkling wine. Nice density with some savoury notes. 90/100
Taille Aux Loups Remus 2015 Montlouis, Loire, France
This is so tight and savoury with linear citrus fruits, some fine herbs, and a hint of nice cheesiness. So fresh and direct with good concentration and focus. Has nice complexity and a delicious acid core. 92/100
Taille Aux Loups Clos Michet 2015 Montlouis, Loire, France
Incredible nose of tangerines and herbs. Floral and enticing. Dry palate with textured yet taut citrus fruit, and lovely acidity. There’s an energy to this wine, and it’s balanced, with the fruit adding some depth to counter the keen acidity. 93/100
Taille Aux Loups Clos de Mosny Monopole 2015 Montlouis, Loire, France
Very fine expressive citrus nose with a hint of straw. There’s keen acidity here with some appealing, concentrated sweet fruit – lemons and pears. Great acidity here. So fine and detailed. 93/100
Taille Aux Loups Les Hauts de Husseau 2015 Montlouis, Loire, France
Old vines from a specific plot: grown directly on the calcaire in this plot. This is tight, linear and quite waxy with precise citrus fruit. There’s a pithy grapefruit character here, and the acidity is fabulous. Very compact and tightwound, and clean citrus notes to the fore. 94/100
Taille Aux Loups Clos de la Brettonière 2015 Vin de France
This is in Vouvray but to have the appellation it would need to have been made in Vouvray, hence it is Vin de France. It’s from a southwest-facing monopole on the Première Côte. Highly aromatic with sweet apples, pears and lemons. The palate is fresh and lemony with keen acidity and lovely purity. Lovely acidity on the finish. 93/100
Taille Aux Loups Clos de Venise 2015 Vin de France
This is a single hectare south-facing vineyard on the Première Côte in Vouvray. Limestone with a bit of clay and flint on the top. Lovely freshness and texture here with fine citrus fruit and a bit of generosity to the apple and lemon core. Lovely acidity. So fine and expressive. 94/100
Taille Aux Loups Rémus 2013 Montlouis, Loire, France
Not much sun and lots of rain in this difficult vintage. Most of the clos wines were declassified into this. Very tight and a bit austere with high acidity, but lovely nuttiness and a strong waxy edge that’s very Chenin. Lemony and detailed. Despite the high acid, there’s lovely complexity here. 92/100
Taille Aux Loups Rémus 2014 Montlouis, Loire, France
This is generous and slightly honeyed, with ripe apple and nuts as well as a hint of cream, over a pear and citrus base. Lovely weight here. Nicely complex with a friendly side, even though it is dry. 91/100
Taille Aux Loups Les Hauts de Husseau 2013 Montlouis, Loire, France
Lovely complexity on the nose. Such lively acidity with a lemony core and delicious waxy, nutty undertones. It’s bone dry but really complex. Such an interesting wine. 93/100
Taille Aux Loups Clos de Venise 2013 Vouvray, Loire, France
Beautiful detail here with lemons, grapefruits, a bit of green apple and lovely acidity. Dry and intense with hints of wax and straw. Acidic, but the acidity has a nice quality to it and integrates well. 92/100
Taille Aux Loups Clos de Mosny 2012 Montlouis, Loire, France
This is beautiful: textured and broad with very fine citrus and white peach fruit. It’s almost a bit Burgundian in texture and weight with a refined citrus core and well integrated acidity. Developing beautifully with lively mandarin notes on the finish. 94/100
Taille Aux Loups Rémus 2005
A warm vintage. Complex and intense with some sweet pear and melon notes. Honeyed. Ripe apple and a fine, dense, rounded spicy personality. Lots of weight here with a sweetness to the fruit. So generous but not over the top. 92/100
Taille Aux Loups Rémus 2004
A terrible vintage, that was very cold. But this wine has developed beautifully, with a stony edge and delicious lemon and tangerine fruit. This has real detail and complexity with nice intensity and notes of wax and herbs. Everything has integrated nicely. 93/100
All the vines areplanted on slopes, with no vines on the sand or gravel terroirs. 14 hectares of vines. Bought this domaine in 2002.
Domaine de la Butte Pied de la Butte 2015
This has a lovely freshness to the smooth, linear black cherry and raspberry fruit. It’s floral and quite elegant with nice acidity and some refined, integrated chalky, gravelly tannins. Very appealing. 92/100
Domaine de la Butte Le Haut de la Butte 2015
6 hectare plot with Complex black fruits nose with some gravel and tar hints. Very perfumed. There’s lovely integrated acidity on the palate with very fine black cherries and blackberries, with nice spiciness. It’s chalky and fine-grained with lots of freshness but no rough edges. 94/100
Domaine de la Butte Perrières 2015
A one hectare vineyard, facing south, with yellow limestone covered with heavy clay. Juicy, bright and lively with keen acidity and vibrant red berry fruit. Compact and bright with lots of acid. This is fresh and intense. 92/100
Mi Pente 2015
Virtually no topsoil in this 6 hectare plot, with limestone and broken bits of other sedimentary rocks. Complex, dense, structured and gravelly, with some tar and spice, as well as a core of blackcurrant and black cherry fruit. Brooding and dense with nice weight. Potential for development. 93/100