Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Twenty-something Chenins

The more people start drinking the wines that I import, the less time I have to maintain my blog. It's great to see the business grow, but it hurts to see my almost five year old baby (i.e. the blog) suffer from a lack of attention.

It's not that there's nothing to write about, it's finding the time to actually write it down. It's about time to hire someone for the business.

Normally I would have written about the surprisingly pleasant wines from Graubünden and Sankt Gallen that we tasted when we were in Switzerland earlier this month. Wines that are too expensive for the export markets (plus the amounts are small) so you will hardly ever find them abroad. For example the Sinfonie Helig Chrüz from Rathauskeller Mels (AOC St. Gallen). A lovely blend from Pinot Noir, Gamaret and Regent. The Gamaret grape was new for me.

Yesterday we had a blind tasting of 21 Chenin Blancs (plus 1 pirate) from both the Loire region and South Africa. The easiest way to distinguish between the two regions, it appeared, is to look at the amount of acidity, which is, not surprisingly, higher in the Loire. Not that it is easy to tell whether it is the one or the other, I made enough mistakes.

In general you can say that Chenin has many fascinating faces. The organizers brought together a series of very interesting Chenins, we only tasted quality stuff from smaller production. So no supermarket wines in this tasting.

It wasn't so much a tasting with good and bad, it was much more a tasting about styles and preferences. I was able to reconfirm my own preference for lively natural French stuff, but I tasted some beautiful South Africans as well. Most notably the Swartland Mullineux White Blend 2009 and the Teddy Hall Auction Reserve 2010.

To my relief I identified my own three Chenins that I brought in. Carême's Vouvray Sec 2009 was received with much enthusiasm, Delecheneau's Montlouis Clef de Sol 2010 was a faulty bottle unfortunately. It was just awkward and nothing compared to the spirited and linear freshness that I had tasted just 2 days earlier. That happens in tastings, unfortunate bottles being judged, also when you're not there.

The tasting of the third wine caused excitement: Mosse's Anjou blanc 2010. It started with the remark of yet another vin naturel with that apparent yeasty smell. Someone else called it a difficult wine. I disagreed, fiercely, but I tried not to misbehave. The richness and honey, the energy, the thrilling acidity that carries on dancing on the tongue. Nothing difficult about it. It only makes me happy.

Other French beauties: the Clos du Breuil from François Chidaine, a very vital wine, and the Domaine du Collier 2006, an exciting rich and complex Saumur that is well worth discovering.

And I should mention a surprisingly good pirate: there was a lovely Hungarian wine between the Chenins: the Béres Tokaji Furmint Löcse 2008.

So I would have written about that tasting. And I'm afraid I just did. This is clearly the way to proceed: just write. A modest thank you to myself for that simple lesson.

And a thank you to Tom Spronk and Elly de Goede for organizing this wonderful tasting!


- Mullineux & Teddy Hall: Winematters
- Chidaine & Domaine du Collier: Wijnhandel Koninginneweg
- Béres: Miranda Beems Wine Import
- Carême, Delecheneau & Mosse: Bolomey Wijnimport


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