Friday, March 13, 2009

François Chidaine's Montlouis "Les Bournais"

During a visit with François Chidaine in February 2004, we passed by what was then the newest part of his property in Montlouis, a site called “Les Bournais” located on the hilltop/plateau overlooking the Loire. The soil in the vineyard has a higher percentage of clay than in most of Montlouis, along with a particular type of limestone called “Les Bournais” that lends its name to both the vineyard and the wine that is now being produced from the site.

At that time, the vines in “Les Bournais,” planted between 1997-99 if my notes are correct, were in only their first few years of production. When we tasted barrel samples with François later that day, we did not get a look at the ’03 base wine from the site, which eventually found its way into one or more of François’ other wines. By coincidence, that year, 2004, though the vines were still completely dormant during our stay, would turn out to be the first vintage in which François would deem the vines mature enough to merit their own vineyard designated bottling.

When the 2004 “Les Bournais” was first released, I managed to get my hands on just a few bottles. Based on my most recent tasting, I wish I’d bought more.

Montlouis-sur-Loire “Les Bournais,” François Chidaine 2004
$30 on release. 12% alcohol. Cork. Importer: (then) Petit Pois, Moorestown, NJ; (now) Louis/Dressner, New York, NY.
This has taken on substantial color since I last opened a bottle the better part of two years ago; it’s now approaching the hue of fresh apricot flesh in the glass. A lovely nose of lavender and wildflower honey is accompanied by fantastic persistence on the palate, where a brief suggestion of sweetness is quickly wiped away by the wine’s mouthwatering acidity. Very pure, this bottle was really singing. Flavors of both bosc pears and freshly pressed apple cider developed after 30 minutes or so, followed not much later with richer flavors of fig compote. I could have kept drinking it all night. The only thing that could have made me happier – well, maybe not the only thing – would have been a log of good Saint-Maure de Touraine to pair with the wine.

My last bottle is getting stashed for a rainy day a few years down the road.

6 comments:

Wicker Parker said...

Ah, how I wish I could taste the 2004 at all -- the 2005 Les Bournais was really, really nice, but the 04 sounds even better...

David McDuff said...

'05 gave extremely ripe fruit, Mike, that resulted in a wine of greater richness than I think François desires for the typicity of this cuvée. The '04 was hardly light or austere but was drier and a touch more graceful. Given the youth of the vines, the '04 speaks really well of the potential of the terroir, which Chidaine believes to be truly special.

TWG said...

Per Asimov, the '05 Les Bournais has shut down hard. Any word on the other '05s? I've bought a bit of the 2005 Mountlouis from Chidaine. Little bit upset about a change in importers from '04 to '05, but that's life.

David McDuff said...

TWG,
I didn't buy into Chidaine's Montlouis or Vouvray '05s heavily and what few bottles I do have are resting, so I don't have anything up-to-date to report on their progress. You might try asking the crew at Wine Disorder.

Dressner has been Chidaine's importer in the NY market for ages. The "switch" from '04 to '05 was not really a change; rather, Petit Pois simply lost distribution rights to all of Chidaine's wines in all of their markets. It's a bit of a soap opera, the details of which I'd rather not get into in this forum.

I believe Dressner now covers the NJ market but he no longer bothers trying to deal with the PA (difficult) and DE (tiny) markets.

chingmosa@gmail.com said...

Oh how I love great wines! wish I could taste this...

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