I thought I’d kick off 2015 with some good news. It looks like we’re going to have some great 2014 wines if those of Patrick Baudouin are anything to go by. We were lucky enough to spend the afternoon with Patrick a couple of weeks ago and tasted all his 2014’s from barrel. The wines are impressive and despite being just short of the finishing line in terms of fermentations, malos etc, are already very stylish and polished in style. The whites are nicely balanced with great fruit and good acidity, the reds have good fruit and lovely supple tannins.
One of the great things about Anjou is the broad spectrum of wine styles. Here, the landscape is rolling and beautiful with areas of open land and then little pockets of terraced vineyards can be found nestling here and there just when you least expect it. Both limestone and slate dominate the region (Anjou Noir & Anjou Blanc) and this has a direct effect upon wine style.
Patrick Baudouin’s estate is located in Princé, a lieu dit of Chaudefondes-sur-Layon and has a charming tasting room that has just been renovated maintaining lovely original features such as the mangers found in the barn and an old screw section of an ancient press used to maintain the building where an internal wall has been removed. There’s a relaxed area for informal tasting and a long table for professional tastings and bigger groups. The winery is a lovely old building (circa 1910). 13.5 hectares of vines located on some of Anjou Noir’s best terroirs – schist, sandstone and volcanic rocks dominate and give their character to a range of wines that are lovingly allowed to do their own thing in the winery. No cultivated yeasts, no chaptalisation and only minimum levels of sulphur are used to ensure that these organic vineyards express themselves and their unique character.
Tasting from barrel is always a treat – being given the chance to have a peek before the wines are in their finished state always fascinating. What struck us with these wines was just how polished they are tasting – things are looking good chez Patrick Baudouin.
Here are my (brief) tasting notes for the wines tasted – thanks to Patrick and his team for the detailed information for each wine and for such a great start to the year.
Effusion 2014 (harvested 04/06 07 Oct 14) Anjou Blanc
Very fruity and fresh with a lot more concentration and elegance than the 2013 (the vintage currently on sale and also good)
La Fresnaye (harvested 04/06/07 Oct 14)
Fleshy stone fruit on the nose but rounder and softer on the palate. This comes from a parcel that is on limestone and the rather peachy, rounder fruit certainly comes through.
Quite different – much tighter on the nose with much more minerality (think wet stones) and a lovely citric quality. A touch of ‘agrumes’ creeps in at the end. Great length and persistence on the palate.
Les Gats (harvested 2/10/14)
A little smokey and with a slightly lactic quality (mid malo so to be expected). Still relatively high in acidity but fine and tight.
Les Gats (harvested 14/10/14)
Perlant on the palate but with a lovely freshness and fleshy fruit character. Less obvious mineral character than the earlier harvested grapes and sweeter (fermentation not quite finished). This cuvée was picked on two separate days to achieve the right balance in the final wine. The earlier one expresses more smoky, mineral notes and the latter is rounder due to the fact that the grapes were picked at fuller maturity. Les Gats is a superb wine and we can’t wait to taste the finished product.
Savennières 2014 (harvested 24/25 Sept 14)
Very fruity on the nose with a slight wet wool note. Fleshy, stone fruit and a teensy bit of grapefruit coming in at the end. On the finish the agrume note makes itself felt (fermentation not complete).
Savennières (from grapes sourced elsewhere)
Very strong notes of pear and quince on the nose. Dry on the palate (fermentation finished) with a very aromatic tropical note. The grapes come from old vines and there is an aroma I can’t identify – coconut?
Les Moulins (Cabernet Franc 100% harvested 14/10/14)
Ripe fruit on the nose with a blueberry note backed up with forest fruits. Nice ripe tannins on the palate that are already supple and integrated. A forest floor note and a slight chalkiness coming from the Cab Franc.
Les Coteaux d’Ardenay (harvested 3/10/14)
Lovely ripe fruit on the nose, mainly forest fruits but with a slightly spicy accent and a little pepper. Not particularly weighty on the palate but the tannin is more evident than on Les Moulins.
Les Touches (harvested 11/10/14)
Real dark black fruit and plum notes on the nose with intense colour, rich ripe tannins. Lovely balance between the fruit, tannin and acidity. Robust but not aggressive in the least.
La Fresnaye (harvest 10/10/14)
Concentrated purple colour with rich ripe forest fruits. Tannins are more present on this wine but seems to be the case with the particular parcel (based on previous tastings).
Les Coteaux d’Ardenay 2013
Ripe forest fruits on the nose and a touch of blueberry. Nice freshness. Tannins very low and light on the palate but the wine is fresh and easy to drink (note: no red was made in 2012).
Coteaux du Layon (harveted 30/10/14 – 2 barrels only)
Mid fermentation so still cloudy. Honey, flowers and pineapple backed up with hints of acacia and grapefruit. A lovely freshness on the palate – tasting great.
Quarts de Chaume (harvested 23/30 Oct 14)
Lovely delicate fruit with confit oranges and honey and a touch of ripe apricot compote and figs.
We also did a whistlestop tour of some of the estates vineyards. Even on a dull January afternoon, the views are beautiful, the landscape stunning, the atmosphere calm and peaceful. It’s easy to see why this corner of Anjou attracted Patrick’s great grandparents’ attention at the turn of the 20th century when they created the domaine and settled in Ardenay, small hamlet nestling in the hillsides on the right bank of the Layon river.
As a footnote, we enjoyed several bottles of wine last night over dinner with friends and one of them was Les Coteaux d’Ardenay 2011 (70% Cab Franc 30% Cab Sauv). This was by far the favourite wine of the evening managing to combine lovely ripe fruit and just enough grip and tannin to make it really food friendly. Round the table we had a range of wine drinkers from very inexperienced (but a wine lover) to French oenologue. The Anjou was the least expensive wine on the table (13.70€) and beat a top cuvée from St Nicolas and a fairly expensive Valpolicella. Anjou is not the easiest place to turn out good Cabernet Franc but it can be done. While I feel that Anjou on the whole excels with Chenin Blanc due to the nature of its terroir, there are some excellent reds out there too. You just have to know the right producer!
For lots more information (in French) take a look at the domaine’s website – it’s crammed with interesting information. Visits are strictly by appointment only but can be arranged as part of a wine tour with us here at le tasting room.
Domaine Patrick Baudouin
Tél-Fax : 02 41 74 95 03