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As rare as hens’ teeth, especially in the last few frost-hit vintages, the ancient romorantin grape shines in the experienced and ever patient hands of François Cazin. In 2015 old vines naturally produced a sweet style, with around 30 grams of residual sugar. Served in France as an aperitif, or with pâté, this would also work with richer goats’ or blue cheeses, or a fruit dessert that will complement its appley tartness.
Product Code: LO15011
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Despite being based in the town of Cheverny, François Cazin produces mostly Cour-Cheverny wines from the little-known but ancient, and probably local, romorantin grape variety. Domaine Cazin consists of 21 hectares of land and the vines grow on chalky clay soils. Harvesting is carried out entirely by hand.
The Loire is the longest river in France, stretching some 1,000km from its source in the south to the Atlantic coast a little west of Nantes. At times majestic, never more so than when overlooked by one of the many spectacular châteaux that lie close to its banks, it was in the past a vital trade waterway. Today, it is better known as a tourist destination. Throughout, the river has been a key factor in the production of wine, whether as a transport route, as a supply of water, for its cooling effects on the surrounding land, or for the mist that often lingers along parts of the valley and helps in the production of many of the fine sweet wines that the Loire Valley is famous for.The geology and climate - the terroir - varies dramatically along the length of the Loire, and, as a result, so too does the choice of grapes planted and the style of wines produced.Red wines are in the minority but a combination of vastly improved husbandry over the last few years coupled with what looks increasingly to be the effects of climate change have made these wines more and more attractive. The main varieties are:Gamay produces wines akin to Beaujolais in the south; in the Touraine, gamay generally has less overt fruit and a slightly earthy character which is not unattractive with food but some will find an acquired taste.Cabernet franc, one of Bordeaux’s grapes, is normally grown here as a single varietal. At its best it has a lovely fragrance and freshness with a good, gentle tannin structure, making it the ideal lunchtime red.Pinot noir is the most delicate of the Loire’s red grapes, producing excellent rosé as well as fine reds that can rival good village Burgundy (more Côte de Beaune than Côte de Nuits in style).Whites are made principally from three single grape varieties. Muscadet, or melon de Bourgogne as it is still sometimes called in France, dominates in the far west, producing fresh, dry, sappy wines that are at their best with seafood.Chenin blanc covers much of the vineyard land around and between Angers and Tours, and is responsible for the Loire’s sweet wines as well as some excellent - and quite varied - dry ones. Many develop greater finesse and complexity with age, but chenin is a grape that requires patience and understanding as, more than any other variety, it can pass through a rather ungenerous "closed" phase, only to blossom again later. Something Noël Pinguet of Domaine Huet likens to the unresponsive teenage years of our children.Sauvignon blanc offers important volumes of good, everyday drinking in the Touraine region but produces its best examples in the Central Vineyards of Sancerre and Pouilly and its near neighbours Menetou-Salon, Reuilly, and Quincy. Loire sauvignon is rarely oaked and is normally fresh, grassy, bone dry and lightly aromatic, making it the perfect wine to serve with fish.Other than the grape, two other key factors should influence your choice of Loire wines. Far and away the most important is the name of the producer. Buy from a trusted, ideally tried and tested source and you will not be disappointed in quality terms.The other major influence in the Loire is the style and quality of the vintage. As one of France’s most northerly wine producing regions, and even with the apparent effects of climate change, the Loire does suffer from the vagaries of the weather, which means that the quality and even more the style of the harvest can vary quite significantly.As a very rough rule of thumb, if we have poor spring and summer weather in the UK then chances are there will have been similarly poor weather in the Loire. On these occasions it is all the more important to stick to growers you trust, read whatever information you have easy access to in order to better inform your choice, and be prepared to adapt to sometimes significant shifts in style. 2005 and 2006 were warm, healthy vintages with ripe fruit and lower acidity, producing more approachable wines. 2007 and 2008 mark a return to much more typical, classically styled Loire vintages with wines that are lighter in body (and alcohol) and with much fresher acidity. If you are lucky you will enjoy both, but many will have a strong preference for one style over another.
Two great vintages in a row and throughout the Loire Valley is an unexpected bonus and another year that’s good for reds is great news. The whites have the freshness of 2014 but are a little more sweeter-fruited and friendlier, with a little less acidity than the more classic 2014s. In Vouvray there hasn’t been a vintage since 1997 to have the level and quality of nobly-rotted grapes for making moelleux-style wines.Muscadet, which is at last seeing the first signs of revival after many years in the doldrums with investment from both new, young and seasoned, well-established growers, fared well. 2015 is a little lower in acidity than 2014, though without the atypical richness of 2009 and 2010, and many will prefer it. The lower acidity throughout the valley in 2015 has produced earlier-drinking, friendlier wines across all grape varieties, but early tastings suggested no loss of the Loire’s appetising food-friendliness.
"A real treat and a quite unusual wine. Went very well with some Roquefort Carles."
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