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Semaine de Noël! 21 décembre

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Re: Semaine de Noël! 21 décembre

Message par Vincent Messier-Lemoyne le Mer 13 Jan 2010 - 15:29

Là je m'avance sur un terrain que je connais fort peu, mais je crois qu'il y aussi le "quand" soufrer et pas juste les doses totales qui influence le niveau de protection.

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Vincent Messier-Lemoyne

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Re: Semaine de Noël! 21 décembre

Message par Invité le Mer 13 Jan 2010 - 15:32

Vincent Messier-Lemoyne a écrit:Là je m'avance sur un terrain que je connais fort peu, mais je crois qu'il y aussi le "quand" soufrer et pas juste les doses totales qui influence le niveau de protection.

exact Vincent, c'est au cas par cas et en fonction du déroulement de la vinif, jusqu'à l'embouteillage. C'est pour cela que j'ai des doutes sur une utilisation abusive, ou même des problèmes constants de vinif au point où l'utilisation du soufre deviendrai primordiale avec le risque également d'obtenir des vins plus durs à cause de ces excès de soufre (ca c'est pas une connerie je l'ai lu, à moins que j'ai lu une connerie). Avec ce débat ca me donne envie d'ouvrir une grande cote de Cotat 1996 pour voir...j'arrive pas à voir à travers la bouteille Very Happy

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Re: Semaine de Noël! 21 décembre

Message par Vincent Messier-Lemoyne le Mer 13 Jan 2010 - 15:44

Être un tant soit peu attentionné, c'est au Québec que tu viendrais l'ouvrir, question de devisé sur sa couleur et de la comparer, pourquoi pas!, à celle du 97 de Boulay!

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Re: Semaine de Noël! 21 décembre

Message par Julien Martel le Mer 13 Jan 2010 - 15:58

Je ne sais pas pourquoi je n'ai pas accroché plus tôt, mais en relisant ma note de dégustation sur le Boulay 1997, je me suis aperçu que pour une rare fois, j'avais indiqué mes perceptions sur sa robe: La robe est magnifique : dorée, avec une impression d’orangée, et montre quelques signes d’évolution. Y aurait-il des variations entre les bouteilles?
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Re: Semaine de Noël! 21 décembre

Message par Olivier Collin le Jeu 14 Jan 2010 - 1:47

Arnaud Lafaurie a écrit:je ne pense pas que d'une manière générale, on utilise beaucoup de soufre à Sancerre...

Tu devrais visiter Mellot père et fils pour avoir une nuance là-dessus. La Loire a beaucoup évolué au cours de la dernière décennie voire un peu plus côté utilisation du soufre. Des robes transparentes aux reflets verdoyants à 10, 15 ou 20 ans ne sont pas normales dans un vin blanc. Cotat en a produit plusieurs ainsi. Je n'ai pas assez d'expérience avec Boulay pour douter de ce qu'il avance. Soyons donc imaginatifs : la seule bouteille de Clos de Beaujeu 1997 que j'ai dégusté était peut-être réduite au possible... avec une couleur d'une jeunesse vraiment surprenante!
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Re: Semaine de Noël! 21 décembre

Message par Yanouk Lévesque le Sam 16 Jan 2010 - 0:17

Julien Martel a écrit:Y aurait-il des variations entre les bouteilles?

C'est clair ... la notre était d'un léger jaune, bien jeune.

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Re: Semaine de Noël! 21 décembre

Message par Vincent Messier-Lemoyne le Mer 3 Fév 2010 - 9:20

J'ai reçu une offre pour des Clos de la Néore de Vatan d'un distributeur américain (Woodland Hills pour ne pas le nommer). À la fin de l'offre, il y avait un article de John Gilman datant de 2007. Je le retranscris ici et souligne un passage intéressant:

Edmond Vatan is one of the greatest winemakers of France to have practiced his craft in the second half of the twentieth century, and he is also one of the least well-known outside of his home region of Sancerre. Based in the lovely small town of Chavignol, which is also home to the much better-known Cotat family, Monsieur Vatan has quietly turned out wines of brilliance and harmony since his very first vintage in 1959. The magic of Vatan Sancerre lies in the ethereal, almost haunting complexity that the wines deliver over time, with their light and airy youth giving way to wines of profound depth, intensity and pristine expressions of terroir. When young, a Vatan Sancerre can appear impressively complex, but quite light and almost modest in its depth, as Monsieur Vatan consistently produces wines that are tightly-knit and unequivocally built to age. This may come as quite a surprise to many fans of Sancerre, as other than the wines of the two Cotat cousins, François and Pascal (and their fathers before them, Paul and Francis), I have encountered no other producers in the region that make sauvignon blanc in such a traditional manner. This is truly a pity, as the quality of a Cotat or Vatan Sancerre at age fifteen so utterly transcends one's expectations of the region that if one has not had the pleasure of tasting these mature wines, then the possibility of quality at this level defies the experience and comes off as mere hyperbole. But rest assured that great traditional Sancerre as made by Edmond Vatan has no difficulty in cruising along twenty years or more in the bottle, and that it deepens, broadens and gains significantly in terms of power and complexity as it travels along its evolutionary path.

Edmond Vatan was born in 1929, in the village of Chavignol, and he is the thirteenth generation of Vatans to have practiced his trade as a vigneron in the area of Sancerre. As Monsieur Vatan is quick to point out, prior to the French revolution, the vignerons in the region worked on the land that was owned by one of the large land-owning Seigneurs, or nobles, that controlled vast agricultural estates in the region. The French landed nobility during this epoch obviously did not work the land themselves, and among the local farmers employed in the region of Sancerre were the Vatan family. It was no doubt a very hardscrabble existence for the farmers working the land throughout this feudal period, but one has to infer that the undying love of the land that is so evident when Monsieur Vatan speaks of his vineyards has been cultivated and passed down from generation to generation. When one shakes Edmond Vatan's hands, it is immediately clear that for the vast majority of his life he was to be found in his vines, as he has the thick, powerful hands that belie a life spent pruning and working the vines. And as is the case in so many other wine regions, the brilliant quality of his wines is no doubt directly related to all of the loving attention that he devoted to his viticulture.

In 2002 Monsieur Vatan went into semi-retirement, selling off the majority of his vineyards to the local Chavignol négociant of Humbert, and has retained only a small parcel of vines from which he continues to make a few thousand bottles of his brilliant Sancerre. This had to be a difficult moment for Monsieur Vatan, as the vineyard that he has always worked was the Clos la Néore, a one hectare plot of vines located on the lower slope of the Monts Damnés, Chavignol's great hillside vineyard. The Vatan family purchased the Clos la Néore immediately following the revolution of 1789, and for five generations the Clos la Néore and the name of Vatan have been synonymous. With only one hectare under vine, Monsieur Vatan's production figures have never been startling, for the most he ever produced was approximately ten thousand bottles of white wine and about a two thousand bottles of red Sancerre in any given vintage. The reason that the Vatans had to finally sell off their vines is that it was no longer possible for Monsieur Vatan to continue working in the fields, and Monsieur and Madame Vatan had only two daughters. One daughter lives in Paris with her family, and the other, Anne, is married to Nadi Foucault of the famous Saumur-Champigny estate of Clos Rougeard. Anyone who has made the drive from Saumur to Sancerre knows that it is simply impossible to keep vines in both Saumur and Sancerre, as it is a good, solid three and a half hour drive between the two regions. So while the desire to maintain both estates was certainly there, logistically it was simply not feasible to retain vines in both appellations.

The big sweeping hillside of the Monts Damnés which towers above the small town of Chavignol is one of the greatest vineyards in all of Sancerre, and the Clos la Néore nestled at its outset as the vines swell up above the town is one of its choicest parcels. While many think of chalky soils of Sancerre in general as rather homogenous, there are actually several distinct subsoils that define the finest vineyards in the appellation. In geological terms, the Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire regions are distinct from the remainder of the Loire Valley, and not surprisingly actually share their underlying geology with the Chablis region that lies some fifty miles to the northeast, as they are yet another outcrop of Kimmeridgian limestone that form the southern ridge of the Paris Basin. This band of chalky marl, studded with fossilized oysters, runs a solid two hundred miles from the small Champagne region of the Aube through Chablis and Auxerre and terminates at Sancerre. Along the way, wherever the Kimmeridgian limestone pokes up to the surface in a series of faults, one finds high quality vineyards planted. (As always, I am deeply indebted James Wilson's fine tome, Terroir, for refining my knowledge of the geology in this region).

However, in Sancerre there are distinct layers of this chalky marl that form different strata of soil and subsoil as they surround the fault line at the Loire River that is crowned by the hill and town of Sancerre itself. The fault in the region finds the best vineyards of Sancerre lying to the west of the town itself on a classic series of undulating hills topped with hard Portlandian limestone, with the vineyards on the slopes lying on a blend of Kimmeridgian soils. These are the wines from the towns of Bué, Amigny, Chavignol and Verdigny. There are three distinct geological substrata in this region, but two of these effectively blend into one soil type, so that in essence there are two soils that the western vineyards of Sancerre are divided into. One is the classic "Terres Blanches" of weathered, chalky marl which is derived from a strata known to geologists locally as St.-Doulchard marl, which contains plenty of fossilized oysters. The second is a blend of the other two substrata, and together they form a much more pebbly calcaire soil which is called by the Sancerrois vignerons "les caillottes". As Mr. Wilson notes, many enthusiasts of Sancerre "make much of the difference between wines grown on terres blanches and the caillottes", with the wines from the terres blanches "generally judged to be fruitier and more delicate" and those that hail from the caillottes soils "more robust and full-bodied," though shorter lived. On the eastern side of the town of Sancerre, vineyards here tend to be closer to the Loire River and on flinty soil types that are much more similar to those in Pouilly-Fumé.

Of the four top wine villages in the appellation of Sancerre, Bué tends to be on the broadest mix of varying soils, with some of its best vineyards on caillottes and others on pure terres blanches. For example, Bué's best-known vineyard is the Clos du Chêne Marchand, which lies wholly on caillottes. Right next door, at another renowned Bué vineyard, the Clos de la Poussie, the soils are a mix of terres blanches and caillottes. As one moves north from Bué to the villages of Amigny, Chavignol and Verdigny, the best vineyard sites tend to be on pure terres blanches, and this is the case with La Grande Côte in Amigny, La Côte in Verdigny and the Monts Damnés in Chavignol. The Monts Damnés adds to its excellent base of soil and subsoil a superb exposure, as the hill faces from due south to southeast, as it rises up above the town's single church in a beautiful sloped vineyard. The Monts Damnés is not terraced, and at many places can be rather steep, making work here arduous and time-consuming. Hence the vineyard's name, as it has never been a pleasure to work the vines on this precipitous slope. But from this steep, chalky hillside come some of the most beautiful and longest-lived wines to be found in the Sancerre region.

Edmond Vatan took over from his father in 1959, and one of the first things required of him was to begin to replant the Clos la Néore. This he did over the first several years of his tenure, so today his vines all now date from the early 1960s, and these forty to forty-five year-old vines produce some of the most brilliantly transparent and longest-lived wines in the appellation. One does not normally think of old vines when one thinks of Sancerre, but there is little reason to assume that older vines and more intricate root systems do not make the same profound difference with sauvignon blanc here in Chavignol that they do with chardonnay and pinot noir in the Côte d'Or. Of course, the dramatic differences in the prices each regions' wines command profoundly affects how long vines are allowed to remain in production prior to being grubbed up and replanted, for in a region such as Sancerre where the vast majority of wines sell for a relative pittance vis à vis top Burgundy, many vignerons simply cannot afford to weather the storm of the lower production levels that necessarily come with older vines. But it is clear from tasting the wines of Edmond Vatan and the Cotats that lower yields in Sancerre clearly produces wines of dramatically more profound character.

Edmond Vatan has always practiced reducing yields in his vineyards in the Clos la Néore, and this is of course one of the secrets to the remarkable complexity and potential for longevity that his wines exhibit year in and year out. He has routinely cropped his sauvignon blanc in the forty to fifty hectoliter per hectare range, which is almost draconian in an appellation where one hundred hectoliters and more is not an aberration for many producers (no matter where the official limitations are set.) For a Vatan Sancerre is unequivocally one of the two or three longest-lived wines in the entire appellation, and like a good young vintage of Raveneau Chablis, to drink a Vatan Sancerre in its youth is generally to miss the vast majority of the depth and complexity that are locked up behind the youthful structure of the wine. In many regards I find that the wines of the Raveneau brothers and Monsieur Vatan are quite analogous in terms of evolutionary cycles and their potential for profundity with sufficient bottle age, and given that the two regions share the same base of Kimmeridgian soils and subsoils, it is really very fascinating to compare the two wines, as their chief differences lie in the use of sauvignon blanc in the Clos la Néore and chardonnay in the Chablis vineyards that the Raveneaus exploit. And not surprisingly, as a Vatan wine passes its tenth birthday it really begins to reveal soil tones that are virtually identical to a great Chablis.

I asked Monsieur Vatan when I sat down with him in July of this year how long he felt the window of peak drinkability lasted for his white wine in a top vintage. He smiled and took his time thinking for a moment, and then replied that none of the top vintages that he has made during his career (which started in 1959) had gone over the hill, and all of them continued to drink beautifully! Before one dismisses this simply as hyperbole, I should note that while dining later that evening at one of the finest restaurants in Sancerre, the Restaurant La Tour, the chef came over to our table and during the course of the conversation told us of a tasting a few months ago that he had been invited to of old vintages of Cotat Sancerre. The tasting went back to the 1961 vintage, with a fair number of representatives from the vintages of the 1960s, and the chef reported that none of the wines was even remotely tired, and the older ones were an absolute pleasure to drink. If the Cotat wines from this era are still fresh and sound, I have little doubt that Monsieur Vatan's wines are also. To underscore his point, Monsieur Vatan asked us to wait for him in the cellar, returned to his house for a moment and came back with a bottle of the 1996 Clos la Néore, a significant quantity of which is now resting at the bottom of the Atlantic, as it was shipped to New York on a boat that foundered at sea. As he poured the ten year-old wine he observed that it was just now beginning to open up a bit and begin to drink well, but that it would have absolutely no difficulty cruising along in bottle another twenty or more years. This was right on the heels of a bottle of the 2006 that we tasted that had just been released, and it was very clear that a decade of bottle age had simply allowed the wine to blossom completely from behind its structural elements, and the 1996 continued to exhibit a freshness, focus and snap of acidity that will carry it decades into the future. This bottle emphatically underscored that the vast majority of Monsieur Vatan's wines are drunk too young (certainly those from a great vintage), when the underlying complexity and intensity are still relatively masked behind the snappy structure of the wine, and when only a small slice of the overall quality of the wine is readily apparent.

As noted above, much of the secret of Monsieur Vatan's wines' longevity lies in the combination of the low yields and the great terroir of the Monts Damnés. If Sancerre were ever to adopt a grand cru and a premier cru classification system for its vineyards such as Burgundy utilizes, the Monts Damnés and the Clos la Néore which lies within it, would certainly be ranked as grand crus. However, while both Monsieur Vatan and both Cotat cousins own vines in the Monts Damnés, they are by no stretch of the imagination the only owners of this glorious piece of earth. And yet their wines routinely outlive by decades most of the other producers' wines from this terroir, and this is because they are the last holdouts to vinify their Sancerre in a traditional method that incorporates old oak foudres, rather than solely in stainless steel tanks or cement vats. To my mind this is one of the fundamental elements that sets the Cotat wines and Edmond Vatan's Clos la Néore so far above the average in the region, as all three of these producers make wines built to age, and all of their cellar techniques are geared in this direction. When I spoke with François Cotat about how old one of his demi-muid barrels was, he responded that the exact age was uncertain, but that it was clearly more than fifty years of age. For Monsieur Vatan, the exact age of his barrels is also difficult to pinpoint with precision, as he has always used the same foudres that his father utilized before him, and which he pointed out are now all well in excess of one hundred years of age! As he pointed out, at this stage the inside of these six hundred liter barrels are so encrusted with tartrate crystals that the wine no longer even comes into contact with the wood anymore, as the interior of the foudres is now completely coated with crystals.

However, Monsieur Vatan does not simply employ his ancient foudres for vinifying his Sancerre, as more than fifty percent of his production is raised in (equally?) ancient iron tanks. Monsieur Vatan will rack the wines from iron tank into his old foudres at the new moon in January following the vintage, and the wines from the foudres into the tanks at that time, where they will rest until their bottling in May. He has always been a very late harvester, the date of which is also decided by the cycle of the moon, and which is done each year in mid-to-late October, not withstanding the characteristics of each vintage. As he is the thirteenth generation of his family to have worked the soil in Chavignol, his methodology that has been passed down by his ancestors has certainly stood the test of time, and one can understand his relative lack of flexibility in terms of adjusting the harvest date to suit the perceived needs of the vintage. The only recent exception to this latter half of October harvest date was the 2003, which was reluctantly brought in by Monsieur Vatan from the vineyards in September. This is certainly not the standard operating procedure for most vignerons in the Sancerre region, but it has worked magnificently for Monsieur Vatan.

The key to such late harvesting producing such fresh and vibrant wines seems to me to lie in the very small yields that Monsieur Vatan has routinely practiced in the Clos la Néore. Additionally, throughout his long and illustrious career he has practiced organic viticulture, which also contributes to allowing his grapes to prosper during such extended hang time. His American importer, Peter Weygandt, who is probably as familiar with the Vatan wines as anyone in the world, feels that it is also very likely that the Vatan white wine typically would go through malolactic fermentation as well in most vintages. When he had asked Monsieur Vatan if this was so, he had replied that he honestly did not know. But as Peter observed, with such late harvest dates the norm for Monsieur Vatan, it is likely that very little malic acidity still existed in his grapes, so that the wine's going through malo would hardly affect the overall acidity of the finished wine. Of course such late harvesting also produced wines of rather significant alcohol content, and this is yet again another sign of the magical touch of Monsieur Vatan in the cellar, as despite his rather heady alcohol content for Sancerre, his wines display a freshness and delicacy that is utterly remarkable. As Peter noted, the 1997 vintage weighed in at 14.3% alcohol when all was said and done (and the 2003 was approaching fifteen percent), and in virtually every vintage Monsieur Vatan's Sancerre would routinely fall in the 13.5% to 14% range. And yet as anyone who has had the pleasure to taste his wines will attest, they are very cool and snappy wines.

Edmond Vatan is also rather unique in his cellaring techniques in that he never uses any sulfur during the elevage and bottling of the wine, other than burning a sulfur candle in the freshly cleaned out barrels and tanks once the previous vintage has been bottled. He racks the wines twice during their elevage- once off of the gross lees after the alcoholic fermentation is finished, and once at the new moon the following May, in preparation for bottling. As he observed, the barometric pressure is always perfect for the wines during the new moon in May, and it is the moment when the wine is ready to be handled and bottled. This is the same tradition that Monsieur Vatan learned from his father, and most likely his father learned from his own father before him. The wines are bottled unfiltered, and the corks are sealed with a bit of green wax on top, rather than a capsule. For those already familiar with Edmond Vatan's wines, the label is unmistakable: a mint green, broad neck label that includes all of the pertinent information about the domaine, and with no further label to be found on either the front and the back when the bottles leave Monsieur Vatan's cellars. There is of course a back label for bottles earmarked for the US, to include all of the additional nomenclature required by the American government on imported wine bottles. When I asked Monsieur Vatan if his distinctive label had also been passed down from his father and grandfather before him, he replied that no, it was a design particular to his own era, as Monsieur Vatan is the first generation in his family to use any label at all!

With such small production, it is not surprising that Edmond Vatan's magical Sancerre is a relatively difficult wine to find in the marketplace. My friend joining me on this visit asked Monsieur Vatan if there were any restaurant wine lists in the region where it would be possible to drink his wines. He smiled, and with a mischievous twinkle in his eye replied that "No, there are no three star restaurants in the Sancerre area, and so it is not possible to drink my wine on any of the local lists." He suggested Taillevant in Paris as a good place to drink his wines, and noted that a number of other three star Michelin restaurants in France have his wine on their wine lists. Given how wine pricing can be in the three star restaurants, a bottle of Vatan Clos la Néore may well be a welcome find when perusing the list for a first white wine. However, when visiting Monsieur Vatan in his small cellar just down the hill from his home, it is clear that enough of the world is aware of the beautiful quality of his wines as to have made frequent pilgrimages to his cellars to taste and visit with him. There is a significant pile of gift bottles in the center of his cellar- bottles of Henri Bonneau Châteauneuf du Pape, Vincent Dauvissat Chablis "les Clos", and Château Lynch Bages from the 1980s are all easily spotted amongst the collection. Not surprisingly, there is also a goodly quantity of Clos Rougeard Saumur-Champigny bottlings amongst his personal collection, and his daughter and son-in-law have not neglected to keep the red wine corner of the cellar well stocked for Monsieur Vatan (and no doubt the Foucault's cellars in Saumur probably possess a goodly supply of Clos la Néore as well). However, I got the distinct impression that at seventy-eight years of age, Monsieur Vatan is most content these days to simply enjoy a bottle or two of his wine when guests stop by, as he was most generous both with his time and his wine when I was there.

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Re: Semaine de Noël! 21 décembre

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