Three Bottles Les Terres Blanches

We remain in the Loire Valley and drink wines from the estate Les Terres Blanches: the Chenin Blanc Les 3 Poiriers 2021, and the two Cabernet Francs Anjou Démon 2020 and Les Hautes Bruyères 2018.

Since it was so delightful last week, we’re simply staying in the Loire region. Conveniently, the trade show haul is still around. What are a few months as a cardboard box in the hallway anyway? Exactly. And drinking bottles straight from the box elicits roughly the same feeling of happiness as putting on clothes straight from the laundry rack. That feeling of saving yourself some work you didn’t really want to do anyway is just fantastic. At least as fantastic as how much we enjoyed the wines from Les Terres Blanches at the Perspektive Wein event. Trade shows often feel a bit like vacations, and we all know that wine that was amazing on vacation doesn’t necessarily taste equally amazing at home. So, it’s also a good opportunity to assess our own trade show taste. Two birds with one stone, as they say. Céline and Benoît Blet started making wine in the Anjou region of the Loire in 2004. From an initial 5 hectares, they now oversee over 10. Their farming practices are certified organic, and they make a point of either producing or sourcing as much as possible locally, such as hay. We ordered three bottles. The Chenin Blanc Les 3 Poiriers from 2021 is harvested very late in September and bottled dry without residual sugar. The Cabernet Franc grapes are also harvested fully ripe. The Anjou Démon is destemmed and then left on the skins for a month. The Les Haute Bruyères is also separated from the stems, then aged for a year and a half in oak barrels after six weeks on the skins.

The late harvest is certainly noticeable in the Les 3 Poiriers. And not just because 14% is printed on the label. There’s a lot of stone fruit, it’s dense and intense on the nose with plenty of spice and a bit of glue. It’s like an orchard again, but much more pear than last week. And overall, just more. The pear and its core settle comfortably on the palate and stay there without any intention of disappearing.

On the second evening, the Chenin is even spicier. Overall, it now seems more mature and even a bit more intense. The 14% doesn’t feel alcoholic at all, but it likely contributes to how intensely the wine hits the mouth and nose. Now it’s much more a wine of structure than fruit, and I like that at least as much as on the first evening.

The Démon has extremely fruity notes right after uncorking. A mixture of red and black berries, blueberry, blackberry, cherry. And then spice comes afterward, but at least on this first evening, it never quite manages to keep up with the fruit. The wine is juicy and slowly builds up a layer of fuzz on the tongue with each sip. Although I enjoy drinking it very much, I almost feel it lacks a bit of grip.

This may sound strange, but there’s more Cabernet Franc in the glass on the second evening than on the first. It becomes more rugged, rustic, edgy, and somehow herbal. The berries don’t disappear, of course, but where the tannin previously had no chance against the fruit, it’s now quite balanced and tends to tip in the opposite direction. We really like that. It’s somehow amusing how the wine evolves like this. Usually, it gets softer on the second evening. Here, that’s not the case at all. Where there was juiciness and tannin on the first evening, now there’s tannin and juiciness. It feels more mature, but not in the sense of older, but rather more adult. And somehow cooler, more distant. “Like a damp autumn day,” it murmurs from across the table. She’s right.

Although the Les Hautes Bruyères is exactly the same grape variety and doesn’t even grow far from it, it’s a quite different wine. The fruit is much harder to grasp, deeper, more complex. There’s vanilla and solvent. Cherry and somehow not cherry. Dense and intertwined. We have this feeling of “I know exactly what that is, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.” At least when smelling. Because on the palate, it’s blueberry. A lot of blueberry. Ripe and sweet, and then the tannin comes. It’s simultaneously complete fruit harmony and fighting it. Elderberry, lilac, and spice. It’s polished but still rustic in that way Cabernet Franc from the Loire so often is.

And it remains exactly the same on the second evening. Perhaps because the wine had a few years in the bottle to gather itself. To get to where it is now. And one can only hope that it stays in this stage for quite a while. Because it’s pretty amazing. Overall, and then also for under 25 euros, which is about what we payed for it, it’s right up there with the best for me personally in terms of red wine in recent months. When you slurp, you realize how much tannin is actually in the wine here too. The astringency runs all along the tongue and doesn’t want to disappear at first. But if you drink like civilized people, then it’s just washed away by all that blueberry. Speaking of blueberries, they’re still as intense as right after opening. And I really like blueberries. I really like blueberries a lot. Every time you stick your nose in the glass, something new comes out of it. So much happens. You can feel with all three bottles that they were harvested ripe, that they’re intense. That’s why it says 14% on all the bottles. Still, I never feel like I’m drinking 14%. With Les Hautes Bruyères, maybe the least. And I keep saying it, when we drink good Cabernet Franc, but it’s somehow like the quaint corner bench in the favorite pub. It creaks, it’s a bit uncomfortable right on the wood, but with a cushion, it’s the best seat in the world. All three are really good wines. But this one, it’s the corner bench. It does something on the palate and in the mind. You feel it more than you actually taste it.

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