RSJ's 30th anniversary: 1980-2010

2010 was a very special year for us as the RSJ Restaurant celebrated its 30th year. We held a number of special events through the year to mark our 30th birthday.

36th Year: 1980-2016

Another milestone with events happening during our 36th anniversary year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

‘Cellar Raid’: tasting and dinner

(17th November 2008)

The opportunity to delve into the RSJ’s wine archives attracted a lively and knowledgeable crowd on Monday evening, who filled the upstairs dining area. Some 44 sat down to a tasting of ten wines and three courses.

The evening’s dominant topic – bottle variation – soon emerged with those on the eastern side of the restaurant faring best, while those closer to the setting suffered a few disappointing bottles, in particular the 2001 Les Rouillières Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil from Frédéric Mabileau and the 1989 Cuvée Reservé Bourgueil from Pierre-Jacques Druet. To rub salt into their wounds the east end enjoyed very good bottles of both the Druet and the Mabileau.

The cork is the most obvious variable between the bottles. However, the variations which tend to increase as the wine ages may well be compounded by storage conditions. I suspect, although I have no proof, that a tasting of three bottles of Pierre-Jacques Druet’s 1989 cuvée reservé in his troglodyte cave at Bougueil might well have shown less variation. Furthermore one of the 1989s was corked. If the milk or orange juice industries had a similar failure rate they would have long been out of business, although it is unusual to attempt to keep milk for nearly 20 years!

With the exception of the aperitif and the last three reds, the wines were served in pairs.

Tasting & Dinner: 17th November 2008


1] 2006 Saumur Blanc, Domaine de Nerleux, Régis Neau £7.20
100% Chenin Blanc, this is long been one of the RSJ's best selling whites. Attractively citric and floral but with some weight from the 2006 vintage. 2007 likely to be more racy.

(Unfortunately none available to purchase.)

2] 1996 Savennières Roche-aux-Moines, Madame Laroche
The Roche-aux-Moines is a particularly well-sited 19 ha sub-appellation within Savennières with a number of owners. This estate, with just over eight hectares of Chenin, is now run by Monique and her daughter, Tessa. We have tasted these wines over a number of years and continue to find them erratic and only rarely do they match the potential of the vineyards.

The 1996 showed considerable oxidation along with considerable power and character. This is a wine that will be liked by those who are happy with a measure of oxidation and rejected by those who do not. Questionable how far the oxidation is a Savennières’ characteristic and how far down to winemaking.

3] 2002 Chinon Blanc Cuvée Confidentiel Christophe Baudry
Out of 2300 hectares of Chinon in production only 40 ha are planted with Chenin Blanc. Christophe Baudry used to make small amounts of this barrel fermented white as well as a straight cuvée fermented in stainless steel. Since joining Jean-Martin Dutour to form Baudry-Dutour, this cuvée is no longer made.

2002 is a very well balanced vintage and this shows in this wine with its attractive blend of crispness and weight along with good vibrant length. Of the two wines the majority preferred this.

Langoustine, Mullet & Sea bass tartlet with a ginger butter sauce
(served with wines 3 and 4)

1997 Cuvée Alain Chabert Alain Rohart Vouvray

4] 1997 Vouvray, Cuvée Alain Chabert Alain Rohart
Nigel and Jim went to see Alain Rohart in Vouvray some 8 to 10 years ago. He has 5 ha of vines in Vouvray and Rochecorbon – mainly Chenin but a little Gamay, Grolleau and Pinot Noir bottled as AC Touraine.

1997 was a very fine vintage with a good summer and a warm autumn giving rich wines. The cuvée Alain Chabert is Rohart’s entry level Vouvray sec. The 1997 showed very well, although it was just a touch rustic and lacked the precision of flavour found in those of Huet or Foreau. Some said that this was ‘classic Vouvray’, while one person found it smelled of the ‘barnyard’.

1997 Les Cormiers Saumur Blanc, Château de Villeneuve

5] 1997 Saumur Blanc, Les Cormiers Jean-Pierre Chevallier
Jean-Pierre undoubtedly ranks as one our top Loire producers both in reds and dry whites. His work both the cellar and, particularly, in the vineyard is meticulous.

Les Cormiers comes from old Chenin vines and is J-P’s top white, which is fermented and aged in 500 litre barrels for 11 months. The 1997 had attractive richness, some honey balanced with minerality. For Nigel and Jim this was the wine of the evening. However, the majority preferred the Vouvray.

The whites showed that decanting isn’t just for red wines – good whites will also benefit. Les Cormiers wasn’t decanted and was served too cold, so needed time to open out in the glass.

6] 2001 St Nicolas de Bourgueil ‘Les Rouillères’ Frédéric Mabileau
2001 was an average Loire vintage with a quite difficult and wet September with the weather improving around mid-October. Last night this was the first example of flagrant bottle variation. About half the room thought this was well over-the-hill and that it should have been drunk a couple of years ago, while one section were delighted with their bottle with Trevor waxing lyrically declaring it to be the best wine of the evening.

Frédéric is now one of the top producers in Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and we hope he will be over to do a tasting for us in the first half of 2009.

Michel Robineau: Anjou Villages 1995

7] 1995 Anjou Villages
Michel Robineau
Nigel and Jim went to see Michel at his very small winery in Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay a couple of times some eight or nine years ago. Then form memory Michel had just four or five hectares now that is up to ten.

1995 was the first good vintage after 1990 and ended a run of four difficult vintages that began with the frost of April 1991. The reds, however, have quite firm tannins particularly from Anjou and highish acidity. They have aged well with having the charm of the 1996s. This was typical of 1995 and really needs food.

Beef Wellington, buttered French beans & young carrots
red wine jus
(served with wines 8, 9 and 10.)

8] 1989 Bourgueil Cuvée Reservé Pierre-Jacques Druet
Although hailing from Chissay in Loir-et-Cher, oenologue Pierre-Jacques has established himself as one of the leading producers in western Touraine. As already mentioned earlier this was badly afflicted by bottle variation. The good one showing the perfume, richness and charm that makes 1989 such a geat vintage.

1996 Chinon Beaumont Pierre Breton

9] 1996 Chinon Beaumont Pierre Breton
Several Bourgueil producers also have vines in the Chinon appellation often in Beaumont probably as it is the closest to Bourgueil – Druet is another. Pierre’s Chinon had good weight, though with slightly drying tannins and it went well with the beef.

10] 2002 Saumur Champigny, Les Loups Noirs Domaine de Nerleux
Nerleux means black wolf in old French, so hence the name Loups Noir from a parcel of particularly well-exposed old vines overlooking the valley of the Thouet. Aged in barrel, this cuvee has the potential to age for at least 10-15 years. The Loup Noirs 2002, while not as rich as 2003 or 2005, showed well last night showing a touch of gaminess, some rich fruit, good balance and length. It was the preferred wine of the trio, although the outcome would have been decidedly interesting if there had been two good bottles of Druet.

Chocolate Cherry Torte with Kirsch

The waiting and kitchen staff were given a rousing round of applause at the end of the evening. We are hoping to soon publish our first events of 2009 on this blog and the website. (Now up – posted 18th November.)

Any comments from anyone at the tasting are most welcome.

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