Two skinny Loire stars: French Connection Classics Saumur Champigny 2008 & Huet Vouvray Le Mont Demi-sec 2002

The New Year ushers in a fiscal tightening of the belt and resolutions of the type aimed at tightening actual belts, so how about a cut price, trophy-winning red which weighs in at a feather-weight 12.5%?

French Connection Classics Saumur Champigny 2008 is made by Eric Laurent, the gifted winemaker at the Cave de Saumur, an impressively forward-looking, quality-focused co-operative. Originally from Pinot Noir country, Laurent’s Burgundian sensibility is perfectly attuned to Cabernet Franc, capturing this variety’s aroma, fruit and freshness, together with its structure.  Bright deep crimson with purple flashes, a perfumed nose and palate, it shows fresh, well-defined crushed raspberry with juicy red cherry and blackcurrant fruit and a cool lead pencil note to the finish.  There’s an attractive coal dust edge to its fine powdery tannins.

A really good example of Loire Cabernet Franc from a tip top vintage, it won a Gold Medal at this year’s International Wine Challenge and picked up the International Cabernet Franc Trophy.  You’ll find it on promotion in selected Co-operative stores between 4 – 19 January 2010 at £5.99 (normally £8.99)

As for my white, writing up tasting notes is thirsty work.  Exciting then that Vouvray Le Mont Demi-sec 2002, a favourite that I recently wrote up (see my vertical tasting of Domaine Huet Demi-sec Vouvrays here) is widely available via Waitrose, also at Planet of the Grapes for around £20.  As you’ll see from my report of demi-secs back to 1949, patience is a virtue with Huet,  so thanks to the retailers for saving us from infanticide in this case!

Vouvray Le Mont Demi-sec 2002 – I love this vintage and this is an exquisite example.  An enticing, fresh, lifted nose with some tufa (white porcini) and honey hints shows a very tight core of steely, almost smoky, grapefruit.  Long and persistent with a rich underbelly of honeyed fruit and chiselled minreals to finish.  Divine now, with an invigorating plunge pool freshness that will make for a bracing start to the New Year and keep this wine in business for years.  It weighs in at 12.83% abv

I’ll be visiting the Loire’s annual trade fair at the end of this month – expect that’ll be thirsty work too!  Will keep you posted with my finds.

Happy New year!

Sarah Ahmed
The Wine Detective