The Dog’s Dog

By Geoff Bolton
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AWE members’ visit to Domalne de la Noblaie, Chinon.

“This is how it should be!” claimed Dr Helen Savage as the group stood in the new winery, built in 2012, at Domaine de la Noblaie. Why? Perhaps because there was an authentic feel created by all the tanks, vats, chutes and barrels on show. It was all on a human scale and man’s labours in creating each vintage was very much in evidence.

The Domaine, south of both Chinon and the Vienne river, was purchased by the present owners in 1952 who fell in love with it. The arrival of wine-maker Jerome Billard in 2006 was a major impetus and Domaine de la Noblaie is winning plaudits such as “One of the best producers in Chinon”. Their Cabernet Franc reds and Chenin Blanc whites are listed by the Wine Society.

Once your intrepid AWE representatives had negotiated the way in (a feat which included reversing 100 yards down a private drive) we were greeted by Thomas Ven who proved to be an engaging – and knowledgeable – guide.

The vineyards’ soils vary between clay at the top of the slopes and limestone in the valleys. The vineyard has been totally organic since 2008. The 24 hectares are planted with Cabernet Franc vines (19 ha.) and Chenin Blanc.

Ven’s claim that it’s “more of a challenge to make rosé here than in Provence” was belied by Noblaie’s Goutte de Rosé with its big flavours and the leesy, creamier, very pale sparkling rosé, Mon Ange, which this writer liked.

The ‘big bear’ (La Grande Ourse) was tasted next. 100% Chenin and unoaked, the wine was delicate but with some alluring lemon and honey richness. It’s available from the Wine Society.

Four Cabernets followed. Le Temps des Cerises, Les Blanc Manteaux, Les Chiens Chiens (my favourite), and Pierre de Tuf. The wines encompassed the Cabernet styles from the crunchy-minerally (LBM), soft ripe cherry (TdC) and the truffly (PdT). Chiens Chiens, I found, was the richest and had the ripest tannins with liquorice and menthol notes.

As we were waved off by Thomas, more customers were about to place their orders. We could see why Domaine de Noblaie is living up to its reputation.

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