Home > Art, France, loire, wine aging > I Know Nothing. Notes From The Desk of Puzzled Oenophile

I Know Nothing. Notes From The Desk of Puzzled Oenophile

January 28, 2022 Leave a comment Go to comments

I know nothing.

Of course, I’m aware of the proverbial circle of knowledge. When your knowledge is represented by the tiny dot, it seems that the surrounding unknown is equally tiny. As your circle of knowledge increases in size, you get to understand that the surrounding unknown is vast and grows together with your knowledge.

Nevertheless, today’s wine lesson proved that I know nothing about wines. Or maybe I am just bad at predicting the future.

A long time ago I attended a wine tasting event to celebrate the anniversary of The Wine Century Club. The event was hosted in New York by the folks from Snooth with the idea that everybody should bring a bottle or a few of the wine(s) made from rare grapes. I have no memories of the wines I brought – I believe one of them was a blend with lots of different grapes in it, but this is really not important for our story. My absolute highlight of that get-together was a bottle of Loire white wine, made from the grape called Romorantin coming from the Cour-Cheverny AOC, which I never heard of before (both grape and appellation). If I’m not mistaken this event took place in 2008, and this bottle of Romorantin was from 1998 vintage. The wine was amazing in its youthfulness and brilliance, vibrant lemon and honey, crisp and fresh. Again, if I can still trust my memory, the person who brought wine said that he (or she) got the bottle at one of the Manhattan wine stores for around $50. I made a note to myself that I want to find this wine and age it – as you know, I’m a super-fan (read: geek and zealot) of aged wines.

I think literally next year I got lucky – I found 2007 François Cazin Le Petit Chambord Cour-Cheverny AOC available at my local wine shop, for about $15 per bottle. I got 6 bottles and prepared to happily and patiently wait for the right moment to open this wine.

I don’t remember when I opened the first bottle of this, maybe 2-3 years later, and the wine didn’t wow – it was acidic all the way, without much salvation.

My next attempt to replicate the amazing experience of the first encounter with Romorantin, was made in 2014. Here are my notes:

2014

2007 François Cazin Le Petit Chambord Cour-Cheverny AOC (12% ABV, 100% Romorantin) – bright white stone fruit on the nose, citrus (lemon) notes on the palate, medium to full body, zinging acidity. It is getting there, but needs another 4-5 years to achieve full beauty and grace. 8-

As you can tell we are moving in the right direction but still far from the destination. Another year, another attempt – again, a copy and paste from the previous post:

2015

This is a rare French white wine made from 100% Romorantin grape. I remember a few years back trying this wine at 10 years of age – and I remember being simply blown away by the exuberant beauty of this seemingly unassuming wine (new vintages retail at around $15 – the QPR is through the roof on this). The nose of that 2007 was amazing, with fresh white fruit, guava, mango, honeysuckle, lemon, and lemon zest. On the palate, behind the first wave of Riesling-like appearance with a touch of sweetness and tropical fruit notes, there were layers and layers of acidity and minerality. After about 10 minutes of breathing time, the wine was almost bone dry, very crisp, and refreshing. I still have 3 bottles of 2007, and now the trick will be to keep my hands away from them, as they still benefit from time.

It is quite possible that this was this wine at its peak? The next attempt was much less successful, despite the fact that we are passing 10 years mark now. I brought the bottle to Jim Van Bergen’s (JvBUncorked) house to celebrate Open That Bottle Night 2019. I was really hoping for a “wow”, or at least an “omg” from the group, but this definitely didn’t happen:

2019

2007 François Cazin Le Petit Chambord Cour-Cheverny AOC
Why: This is one of my favorite wines. When it was 10 years old, was literally blown away
How was it: Underwhelming. A touch of petrol, clean, good acidity, bud no bright fruit. Still delicious in its own way – I would gladly drink it any time. But – lucking the “umpf” which was expected… Still have 2 more bottles – will open them later on and see.

Underwhelming was the word. Okay, down to the two bottles.

At the virtual OTBN2021, I made another attempt to experience greatness. Here’s how it went:

2021

The miracle didn’t happen, and the white wine didn’t become suddenly magical. If I need to describe this 2007 François Cazin Le Petit Chambord Cour-Cheverny AOC in one word, the word would be “strange”. At some moments, it was oxidative and plump. In other moments, it was acidic. It never showed that amazing lemon and honey notes I was expecting. I still have one more bottle, but now I really need to forget it for as long as possible and see if the miracle will happen.

And now we are down to one, my last bottle.

I was feeling blue, and I needed a “pick me up” bottle. Considering my loving relationship with wine, a “pick me up bottle” is nothing specific – it can be something very different every time. This time I wanted a white wine with some age on it. Marsanne/Roussanne would be ideal, but I had none of those. A have a few bottles of Peter Michael with a nice age on them, but this would be a bit too lavish and still not fitting the mood. And then I saw my last bottle of Romorantin, and the thought was “yeah, I can appreciate some oxidative notes right now”

The bottle is out of the wine fridge. Cork goes out in one piece with no issues. I poured wine into the glass to take a picture. Beautiful color, between light golden and golden – remember, this is 15 years old white wine.

The first whiff from the glass was clean, with lemon and minerality, an impression of a young, confident white wine. The first sip simply confirmed that first impression – whitestone fruit, crisp, minerally-driven, vibrant, and refreshing. A distant hint of petrol showed up on the nose, very faint, and a touch of honey. The wine was alive, the wine was fresh, the wine was perfect.

The wine continued its finesse on the second day (it was a heroic act of not polishing the whole bottle on the first day), behaving as young and fresh white wine of the new harvest. In a blind tasting, I would be completely sure that his wine is one or two years old at the best.

Anyone cares to explain this to me? I stored all 6 bottles the same way. Maybe the wine was strangely not ready in 2019 (sleeping stage), and last year’s bottle simply had an issue of cork? Maybe what I tasted in 2015 was actually a peak, and so this vintage needed only 8 years and not 10? Why 1998 was amazing at 10 years of age, and 2007 was amazing at 8 and 15? Vintage variations? Change in winemaking between 1998 and 2007? Wine Spectator vintage charts consider 2007 Loire wines past prime. Wine Enthusiast’s vintage rating for 1998 is 86, and 2007 is 92. And none of it helps.

If you have any ideas, please chime in.

I know nothing. But I will continue learning.

 

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