The start of the year is for the wine-world marked not by fireworks and festivities, but by a series of wine fairs staged throughout a winter-bleak France. Every year sommeliers, buyers and producers from all over the world gather in small châteaus and churches or huge limestone caves and exposition centers to taste wine, barter and share experiences.
It seems some producers found 2017 a dry and difficult year while others commented on how extraordinarily short the growing season was. Those who had had a tough time in 2016 generally found 2017 to be a welcome respite where the quality if not the yields were more than positive, while those who had an outstanding 2016 regarded 2017 as just safe but boring.
I guess such contradicting answers is what you can expect when you ask producers from Priorat, Trentino, Loire, Bourgogne and Côtes Catalanes the same question…
But no more of the trials and tribulations of 2017. Pouilly-Fuissé producer Château des Rontets is a producer that has come into his own during the past few years and who like others chose to show older vintages at the fair. The Clos Varambon 2015 was nothing but outstanding and while the other wines from 2015 seem to need more time there’s always the excellent Bourgogne de Sud 2016 to drink and enjoy meanwhile.
The wines from Priorat visionary Terroir al Limit were as always superb. The two cru vineyards Arbossar and Dits del Terra seem forever to be at odds and ends with each other. If one is open and outspoken the other is almost sure to be closed and difficult. At the fair however both were unusually forthcoming, with the Dits del Terra 2015 as the definite stand-out of the tasting.
The wines from Trentino sage Elisabetta Foradori were also open and drinking unusually well. When these wines go into a faze they definitely mean business, and can stay closed, reductive or just shaky for weeks or months. But aside from the young and boisterous 2016 Scarzon and Morei the whole range was on point. If there was ever any doubt that Granato is a ‘grand vin’ 2015 puts those doubts to shame. It’s possibly the best vintage I’ve tried so far with the exception of the 2010 and definitely a wine I’ll try to get my grubby little hands on.
Another high quality producer – Pattes Loup – seems to have given his all in 2015. Both the straight Chablis and the Vaillons were exuberent and intense, while the 2015 Cote de Jouans relied more on elegance and discretion. The 2015 Beauregards on the other hand was quite shut down and needs a fair amount of time.
These producers are all long-standing favorites of mine and it’s no wonder that I strive to see the best in their wines. Someone who has never been one of my favorites though is Jean Foillard. It has taken me years to see what all the fuss is about with and I often found the wines correct but dull, lacking in vivacity. Having an affair with the Norwegian importer has however upped my intake of Foillard wines considerably, and it is with great chagrin that I must admit that yes – everyone else was fucking right. I was wrong. The wines are great. Damnit. Damn you all. And your grandmothers.
I blame it all on a very successful 2015 on his part, a year where many other Beaujolais producers presented far too fruity and clunky wines. 2016 in general seems to be a great vintage for the area, and again Foillard managed to produce clear-cut wines with great focus and structure.