Caviste is a highly focused Swedish-French online wine merchant, selling wine by themed and mixed 6-bottles boxes, one at a time. One week before Christmas, he presented his last launch of 2014. That box contains two dry white wines from the middle part of the Loire Valley, i.e., Chenin Blanc land. They come from two different producers located at opposite sides of the river, and both are 2013s.
On the south side, i.e., the left bank of the Loire river, we find the Montlouis-sur-Loire appellation and the producer Ludovic Chanson. His wines have been sold before by Caviste.
On the north side, i.e., the right bank of Loire, we find Vouvray, which is a more famous appellation. We also find the producer Michel Autran.
The two wines, both of them dry (Sec), were:
2013 Ludovic Chanson Montlouis-sur-Loire Les Cabotines
Nose with apple, some lemon, discrete perfume note, some mineral, and a note that can’t quite put my finger on (perhaps linseed oil?). The palate is completely dry and noticeably mineral-driven with pear and other “light-coloured fruit”, some grapefruit notes including grapefruit bitterness, high acidity, again some perfume notes, and aftertaste dominated by minerality. Young, approachable now for those that want something firm, 88-89 p.
Compared to the wine below, this wine shows less of the typical Chenin Blanc notes. It is more elegant and lighter with more minerality, and it is the drier one. I’d say it could go well as aperitif and be paired with seafood.
2013 Michel Autran Vouvray Ciel Rouge
Nose with apple, spice notes, some arrack and some dried fruit, and a hint of smoke. Dry and fruity palate with notes of ripe apples, a hint of arrack, some spice with some peppery notes, good acidity, and mineral. A fruity aftertaste with a hint of spice. Rather young, approachable now, 88 p.
Of the two wines, this shows the classical Chenin Blanc notes and is the spicier and foodier of the two. It should pair well with e.g. fish dishes with sauce and with hard cheeses.
A few other wines from the same producers were also available for tasting, since Caviste also put on a big retrospective tasting of the boxes launched in 2014 at the same occasion:
NV Ludovic Chanson Montlouis-sur-Loire Les Pions
A semi-sparkling wine
A discrete mousse. Nose with apples, a slightly spicy Chenin note, and some minerally smoke notes. Dry palate, apple, noticeably spicy, some mineral notes. Young, 85-86 p.
I’d say that Les Pions doesn’t try at all to be Champagne-like.
2012 Ludovic Chanson Montlouis-sur-Loire Les Cabotines
Nose with some perfume, apples, other fruit notes, some spiciness, and smoke. The palate is dry and rather full-bodied with apple, mixed light-coloured fruit, and some spice notes. Foody, 87-88 p.
Compared to the 2013 Les Cabotines (above), the 2012 was fruitier, spicier and heavier, and it showed more typical Chenin Blanc notes. One more year might have brought out some more spiciness, but most of the difference is probably vintage character.
2013 Michel Autran Vouvray Les Enfers Tranquilles
Nose with ripe apples, some spice, some mineral, a light perfume note. Dry palate, ripe apple, some spice, good minerality, good acidity, rather firm aftertaste. Rather young, 88(+) p.
It is less spicy and somewhat less fruity than the 2013 Ciel Rouge, so this is the firmer of the two Michel Autran wines. The soils are argilo-calcaire (“calcareous/chalky clay”) for Ciel Rouge and argilo-silex (“flinty clay”) for Les Enfers Tranquilles. And yes, the name of this wine really means “the calm hells”. Mr. Autran’s explanation was that the vineyard, the lieux-dit, is called Les Enfers, “the hells”. Since it is a non-sparkling wine, it is tranquil, which makes for a nice oxymoron together with the vineyard name. Perhaps a red sky (ciel rouge) is a good match for a calm hell?