Neal has taken off on the first of his autumn trips to visit our growers in Europe. We will chronicle his travels on the blog by posting his field reports.
September 19, 2013
“Flew into Geneva this morning and visited Vens-le-Haut and Magnin today. Was privileged to be here on a gorgeous day, unfortunately one of the few nice days of the whole growing season. Both growers complained of the difficult conditions: a cold, rainy spring that had a negative effect on the flowering, periods of high heat in the summer but rain over the recent past. They need the latter part of the season to provide good weather. Harvest will probably be in mid-October. Mme Magnin was very dismayed by the destruction caused by the troops of sangliers (wild boar) that descend from the mountains during the night to eat the ripest grapes while messing up the vineyards.
At Vens-le-Haut, the 2012s were particularly good, showing what I am coming to understand is the high-toned minerality of the Seyssel area with accompanying elegance and balance. The Jacquere and Altesse are favorites for me as they are somewhat more lean and balletic than the Aligote and Molette, the latter two being more “terreux” – earthy and more dense. I am also growing fond of the Gamay which has little to do with its counterpart in the Beaujolais. Here it is all about minerality with the merest hint of wild berries. The Gamay at Magnin’s place is similarly mineral but with more power and structure, serious wines both. The Mondeuse at Vens is typically quite tannic, promising but the terroir of Seyssel, for me, is more ideal for the whites.
Had a long lunch with the Magnins which enabled us to get to know one another better. We tasted 14 wines at various points throughout the meal. The wines here are not just good; they are exciting. My personal favorites are the Roussette de Savoie (next vintage is 2012 which is excellent – great length and minerality). The 2011 version is currently in stock, a splendid and satisfying wine.
The reds are a tour de force. The Gamay (as Michael Kane once expressed to me in a vain attempt to get me to buy some) is outside of category. I may just have to succumb and purchase some 2010. Of the various Mondeuse wines, we will happily plunge into the 2011 “tout court” as well as the “tout un monde” 2010 as follow up to our current holdings. These two wines as well as the Roussette and Chignin-Bergeron must be our focus. This domaine merits attention.”