Summer Chenin Madness

Chris got his hands on some early 90s Coulee de Serrant, and we were all happy to come together for the “vineyard of exception”.  Arguably the best expression of Chenin Blanc, Coulee de Serrant is a monopole (vineyard with a single owner) biodynamically farmed by Nicholas Joly.  Just over 14 acres, the vineyard boasts vines with more than 80 years of age.  Steep slopes, thin schist soil, grapes harvested by horse and by hand – all the makings of a special place in the Loire Valley (and beyond).

For our evening of Chenins, we ended up with 6 wines.  We saved the Joly for flight 2.

Getting down to business.

Wine 1 in flight 1 garnered these descriptions: baked caramel, toffee, crab apple, stony, smoky, higher-than-expected acidity, touch of matchstick on palate, spicy a la horseradish and white pepper.

Chamboureau Cuvee d'Avant Savennieres 2004. 14% abv.

Wine 2 from flight 1: funky peaches, wet wool, dried apricots, toasted marshmallow, textbook lanolin texture.

Huet Le Haut-Lieu. 2002. 12% abv.

Wine 3 from flight 1: clean mushrooms, lemon head candies, just picked apples, floral, beeswax, pineapple, smoky, cotton candy, bright and lively with a long finish.

Jacky Blot Domaine de la Taille Aux Loups "Les Dix Arpents" Montlouis Sur Loire. 2009. Forgot to write down abv. 12 something is my guess.

Time for round 2.  Chris had decanted the 91 and the 93 Coulee 24 hours in advance of our tasting.  I brought the current release, the ’07, and it was decanted for just a few hours prior to round 2.  I announced it during the tasting, and no one seemed impressed, but for the record, I guessed the vintages correctly during round 2.

From left to right, the '93, '91 and '07 Coulee de Serrant. Liquid gold.

A shot of the labels:

The aromas and flavors of these ranged from celery soda to baked apple, but there was a recognizable line throughout.

By this time we were getting hungry.

The first course was corn soup with bacon and chives. The sweetness of the corn played nicely with the fruitiness of the wines.

Chris adapted course 2 to the wines as well.

The plan was to grill polenta, along with other goodies. I suggested ring molds, to keep up appearances.

I was on summer truffle detail. Just the right amount of funk for the line-up of wines.

Plating the main course:

Chris had come across some pine honey. Sweet, with the perfect amount of herbaceousness.

Two of our guests had to leave before the main course was served.

Monster serving of seared scallops, grilled polenta and scallions, summer truffles and pine honey.

As I was finishing up this post, an email came through from Chris, with the subject “coulee redux”:

So I just got home from work.  Exactly one week has passed since I decanted the 91 and 93.  I squirreled a small amount from the tasting, for purely scientific purposes mind you, and have just tasted through the lot of them.  All three are dead as a doornail.  Without exception all three wines showed best at 24 to 48 hour.  The evolution went from closed up upon opening to the shapeshifting chameleon that we all met at the tasting.  Then on to a vegetal phase and finally to very a rich ripe golden fruit phase.  Sorry for any bullshitty language.  Interesting, they are still not quite oxidized.  And for the ringer, I can’t resist, the cuvee d`avant is still showing fantastically and with that I am going to go attend to the last of it.

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