Tomas Clancy reviews Domaine Nicolas Reau 'Clos des Treilles', Anjou Blanc, Loire, France 2015 & Walnut Block, Pinot Noir ‘Collectables’ Marlborough, New Zealand 2014
Domaine Nicolas Reau 'Clos des Treilles', Anjou Blanc, Loire, France 2015
Pricing : around €21.96 down from €24.95
Available : Le Caveau, Kilkenny and nationwide at lecaveau.ie; Green Man Wines, Terenure; 64 Wines, Glasthule and in selected independent Off Licences, Supermarkets and wines shops nationwide
This is a glorious artisan and natural wine from the Loire that is immediately delicious and appealing. It is perhaps surpassingly, NOT, a Sauvignon Blanc the dominant white grape of the Loire in the form of Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume and Touraine Sauvignon. This is the other more mellifluous grape, the smoother, effortlessly chic older sibling, Chenin Blanc.
The owner of the winery here and its winemaker is former Jazz musician Nicolas Reau and the wine, pronounced Cl-oh de Tray, is as engaging and unexpected as any saxophone improvisation. It attacks with supple smoothness, hinting at luscious sweetness on the nose, but softs oils and then merging fine minerality make this a wine for all tastes, or rather, a multifaceted wine for wine lovers who enjoy a wine with a second act. Founded in just 2002 when Nicolas found he could not make a living from Jazz alone, Reau adopted the tenets of Natural Wine and has become an Efant Terrible, as all good Jazz exponents should, of the established order, hence this is released under the blanket cover of AC Anjou. Hand harvesting, natural yeast wild ferments, no temperature control and at their own good time fermentation all shout out avant garde, but so in its own way is the barrel fermentation of this wine offering a smooth, warm, luscious toasty overtone that in its own way is a two fingers to the unoaked mantra of the rapidly atrophying bright new things of the last decade. A small run, natural wine triumph.
Walnut Block, Pinot Noir ‘Collectables’ Marlborough, New Zealand 2014
Pricing : €21.95
Available : Searsons Wine Merchants, Monkstown Crescent, Blackrock, Co. Dublin and online nationwide at searsons.com; Ardekeen Stores, Waterford and in selected independent Off Licences, Supermarkets and wines shops nationwide
Despite a pristine looking environment and a relatively bijoux wine industry in New Zealand, the drive towards organics, let alone Natural wines or bio-dynamics has been relatively slow and the uptake low at perhaps just 5-10% of production. However the majority of the best and most ambitious winemakers have adopted various guises of Green, sustainable and organic production in their many smaller farms. This is a fine example of this artisan and organic approach from two young brothers, Clyde and Nigel Sowman. The Sowman family planted these vineyards in only 1996, which at just 21 years of age is to be contrasted with 1000 years that the vineyards of the Loire or Burgundy have been planted, to say nothing of 2000 and more of planting in Bordeaux, Italy, Spain and Greece. By now, their European counterparts have through centuries of trial and error arrived at the right grapes for the vineyard. So in the 1980s and 1990s it was thought that Sauvignon Blanc was good in Marlborough, and it was, but increasingly it turns out that Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are faring even better. This is a gorgeous, savoury Pinot Noir, expressive and complex, but with enough primary ripeness and good evident fruit to be an early drinking delight, a world apart from Burgundy, not better or worse, different, and hugely enjoyable for that.
Next week is New Zealand wine week as well and the first Wine fair of the year, the New Zealand Wine Fair is being held by the New Zealand Wine Board, there is a consumer tasting next Thursday 19th January from 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 8 where you can taste this and the other wines from Walnut Block and 150 other wines. Admission is €15 and you can get booking details through jeansmullen.com or google of course.