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January 15, 2009

05 Paul et Fredrik Filliatreau, Saumur-Champigny La Grande Vignolle

If Goodyear made prunes, they might taste like this. Maybe that's why it smells like new car and a pair of Ballys ankle boots in the middle of April. Stern and stemmy in the nose, oddly fruity, chocolatey, and rubbery on the palate with awkward, chalky, woody tannins, it's wines like this that make me hate traditional wine. In some ways, that's what you get with cabernet franc, especially in the Loire. And I love funky indigenous red wines as much as the next Neal Rosenthal. It's surprising, really, to get a wine this weak and dank from a vineyard site--La Grande Vignolle--with so much promise. I expect a tinge of cherry, maybe even a hint of sweetness, to balance out all this earth, but it's just not there. It's one of the strangest showings I've tried--at once as shutdown as a young wine with great aging potential and as dead as that same wine five years past its prime. Loire reds are known to do that in their first few years in bottle, and my impulse is to say it's going through a funny time. Or maybe it got insulted by the bottles of Pingus and Owen Roe on its shelf. I don't know. But maybe this wine should be labeled with its English name instead--La Grande Vignolle: The Big Flat Bottom.


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