Bizard, Chateau d’Epiré
origins of the property date back to the 1640s, although the Chateau that
exists today was built in 1850. It is set in a formal park complete with
ornamental pond and has its own orangerie.
However it is where the wines themselves are made that provides the
greatest curiosity. An 11th century Roman church which stands astride the
boundary wall of the Château was deconsecrated and converted into a
cellar in 1906 after the construction of the Église
Saint-Aubin in the village. The are over 11 hectares of vines here,
one of which is planted to Cabernet Franc, with the Chenin being planted
over three different parcels within the commune.
estate is owned by Bizard family whose ancestors have been here since
1749. Luc Bizard took over from his sister in 1990 after a 17 year career
in the French navy. She had managed the domaine since the death of their
father, Armand, in 1984. During this era, the wines were made by Robert
Daguin, d'Epirés rotund cellar master.
day to day running of the cellar is under the guidance of mâitre de chai, Christophe Onillon. There are essentially four
different cuvées of Savennières produced here along with ‘Clos de la
Cerisaie’, an Anjou Rouge. The ‘classic’ cuvée represents around
25,000 bottles, or about 65% of the domaine’s total production. It is
generally sourced from the same parcels each year from vines with an
average age of around 25 years. The wine is raised in tank with a small
barrel component and is bottled in July following the harvest. As per the
standard wine, the ‘Cuvée Spéciale’ is released each year and comes
from vines which sit behind Le Clos de la Coulée de Serrant. The first
vintage was in 1985. ‘Le Hu Boyau’, old French for ‘high wood’, is
a barrel fermented cuvée from a specific parcel that sits on black
volcanic schist directly behind the wall of Le Clos de la Coulée de
Serrant. These are also the oldest vines at the domaine, dating back to
1960. The production here is small, representing about seven 400 litre
casks a year, of which one barrel is replaced annually. Prior to 2000 this
wine formed part of the generic blend, and Bizard admits that its creation
is purely down to a commercial demand for oak aged wines. Finally, there
is an ‘occasional’ release of a moëlleux,
although in the past few vintages, it has become a regular addition with
examples in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006. These are generally produced
from passillerage berries collected at the start of the harvest.
Production is kept deliberately small at around 1,500 bottles a year as
the demand for such wines is limited. These typically have around 35 –
40 grams of residual sugar and can be expected to age for a decade or
more. It is interesting to note that the style of winemaking changed here
in 2002 with the acceptance that malolactic fermentation can play a useful
role in the generic cuvee. Bizard believes this technique is a commercial
necessity to overcome the austere, bitter characteristics that Chenin
brings in the leaner years. This shouldn’t imply that the second
fermentation is systematic; ideally the conditions of the vintage mean
that it is not necessary to induce it at all, but it is now considered as
the longest standing producer in the appellation it seems normal that Château
d’Epiré should enjoy some of best distribution around the restaurant
tables of Anjou, but that should be no reason to risk complacency or even mediocrity. Luc
Bizard suggests his ‘classic’ cuvée will ‘drink up to 10 years’,
although I find that they begin to tire and fall over much before that,
failing to deliver little more than a sound expression of the appellation.
One needs to step up to the level of the ‘Cuvée Spéciale’ to begin
to find any real degree of quality here, and even then I find there is a
lack of consistency between vintages. It grieves me to say it, but I think
these wines should be much better than they currently are.
Polished. Green appearance. Clean, linear and floral nose. Authentic
and delicate in style. Slightly phenolic edge. Despite its youth the wine
already tastes too advanced for its age, with notes of white flowers. Dry,
mineral finish. Somewhat ordinary. (02/11)
‘Le Hu Boyau’
Clean, restrained nose. Wood is evident, but much better integrated
than previous attempts. Currently backward and not very expressive.
Typical and authentic without the rustic elements I've associated the
property with in the past. Floral elements, which include white flowers,
to the finish. Good, clean thread of mineral acidity running through the
wine. Promising and a move in the right direction. (02/10)
Light delicate nose and already showing some maturity with aromas of
white flowers. Builds well on entry, although the acidity is still a
little unknit. Mineral to finish. Still quite an old fashioned style.
Drink now and over the next 3 – 5 years. (02/08)
Polished. Mid-full with green hints. Shows some ripeness, although
still quite austere and mineral on the nose. Broad and obvious residual
sugar on the palate. Well balanced. An old fashioned but classic style.
Slightly austere and phenolic on the finish. Approachable now, but would
benefit from more time in bottle. (02/08)
‘Le Hu Boyau’
Polished. Deep appearance but with some youthful green hints. There is
evidence of wood on the nose, but not dominant with the wine showing some
potential for evolution. Rich on entry with a creamy texture (100%
malolactic this vintage). Chalky, with good weight and concentration. This
would really benefit with more time in bottle. (02/08)
Lovely ripe nose. Very elegant and open. Floral, with white flowers
and acacia. Mid weight with some mature flavours on entry but the
structural profile is still quite fresh. Still firm, but delicate.
Drinking now, but could hold and evolve over the next five years. (02/08)
Restrained nose. Taut and mineral. This shows the ripeness of the
vintage (15% alcohol) and is a bit phenolic on the finish. Clumsy and
unknit. This may evolve and come together, but I have my reservations.
‘Le Hu Boyau’
Polished. Mid-depth with green hints. The oak dominates the nose and
palate. This is clumsy and heavy handed. A bit too ripe with some
bitterness on the finish. I can’t see this coming together. I prefer the
simplicity of the classic cuvee this vintage. (02/08)
Attractive and very ripe passillerage nose with delicate honey and
quince. It displays apple and pear flavours to both nose and palate. Well
textured and very delicate with good freshness, balance and length.
Approachable now, but should age gracefully. 1,500 bottles produced.
Very pale straw appearance. Hint of green. Clean but neutral nose.
Simple and lacks concentration and definition. Authentic and somewhat old
fashioned. Falls short on the finish. Drinking now and unlikely to improve
much further. (02/08)
‘Le Hu Boyau’
Deep appearance. Yellow-gold. Viscous in the glass. The nose is not
unlike Vin Jaune and is a little grubby with no evidence of the oak used
in the raising of this cuvée. Bruised apple character to both nose and
palate. Powerful acidity to finish. Undistinguished. (04/09)
Deep appearance. Delicate, floral nose with some white flowers. Bone
dry and austere on entry with striking acidity and a dry, orange peel-like
botrytis character. This is very distinctive and a wine that shows the
characteristic of this vintage. Drinking now, but this will continue to
hold and possibly evolve. A wine for purists only. (02/08)
Deep, mature appearance. Rustic and unclean on the nose. Faintly
fishy. The nose is open, but shows some oxidiative (oxidised?) character.
Flat and a bit dull with some evidence of ‘dry’ orange skin botrytis.
The palate shows good concentration, but is dry and pithy to the finish
with some aggressive, unknit acidity and some advanced terpine like
flavours. Very rustic. Drink up. This won’t improve. (04/08)
‘Le Hu Boyau’
The first vintage under this label. This accounted for four new oak
barrels (representing 15% of the total) with the rest of the wine raised
in tank before blending. Polished. Youthful pale green appearance. There
is no real sense of the oak on the nose, but the palate is very planky,
austere and taut (there was no malolactic this year). Good length. This
really still needs more time to soften in hope that the wood on the palate
finally integrates. (02/08)
Polished. Mid-full yellow-gold. Mature appearance. Attractive, if a
little atypical. Tired, savoury nose with Vegemite, coconut and marzipan
aromas. Light and shallow on entry. Savoury again with notes of Marmite.
Rich, evident of the vintage, but falls short and lacks any real
structure. Drink now. Unlikely to develop further, although should hold.
Deep orange/bronze appearance. This shows some oxidation and is tiring
quickly, loosing any remaining fruit and charm. Austere and phenolic on
the finish. Drink up. (02/08)
Bright. Mid depth, yellow. Tight nose. The ripeness shows here, but is
otherwise quiet. Some quince. Delicate on entry, with distinct sweetness.
A touch clumsy, showing ripeness on the palate, but lacking balancing
acidity. Flat on the finish. Some faint liquorish flavours. Unlikely to
evolve further. Drink up. (06/04)
Mid full. Yellow. Advanced nose with some white flowers. Broad, flat
and dull on the palate with very firm acidity to the finish, otherwise
this is quite short. Some flavours of quince. Ordinary. Needs drinking.
Demi-Sec ‘Cuvée Armand Bizard’
Bright. Mid depth. Copper/bronze appearance. Advanced nose. The palate
is better, but remains very simple. Lacks definition. Short finish with
some advanced toffee-like flavours. Drink up. (06/04)
Bright. Advanced bronze appearance. Simple, delicate nose of
honeycomb. Quince, apples and liquorish. Attractive leanness and balance.
There is some evidence of residual sugar here, although the wine finishes
dry. Malic with sweet and sour flavours, but is balanced. Should hold, but
not likely to improve. Juicy finish. Decent. (06/04)
Demi-Sec ‘Cuvée Armand Bizard’
Deep, copper/bronze. Delicate apple and honeycomb nose. Reminiscent of
Vouvray. The palate is more expressive with honey and quince. Well focused
with good texture and delicate complexity. Very good length. This may
evolve further. (06/04)
Mid depth. Light, but ripe and delicate on the nose. Some advanced
characters here. Very light and mineral on the palate. Tired, short and
uknit acidity. Dried out. (06/04)
Pale. Green hints. This is not very giving behind a reduced, gunflint,
smoky nose. The palate is better with decent texture. Builds well with
some good concentration to finish, but will it throw off its reductive
cloak? Lacks definition. This will hold but there is a question over its
ability to mature fully. (06/04)
Deep appearance. ‘Dry’ botrytis-like nose of oranges and quince.
Mid full and complex. Delicate on entry with liquorish and spice. Very
fresh acidity. Builds well. Good focus. Juicy. Very good length. Drinking
now, but will hold. (06/04)
Polished. Mid-full yellow with green hints. Taut, smoky, terpine nose.
Striking acidity on entry although the flavour profile shows this wine to
be mature. The acidity will outlive the fruit. Very traditional and old
fashioned in style. Just drying out now on the finish and needs drinking.
Deep, copper coloured. This looks old and tired. Mature nose. Very
rustic. Tired, short and drying out. Sadly past its best. (06/04)
Golden appearance. Some terpines on the nose. Low on fruit character.
Powerful, but one feels this is drying out. Tired on the palate with some
sweetness showing. Flavours of chocolate and oranges. High acidity. This
is now past its best. Drink up quickly. (06/04)
‘Clos de la Cerisaie’ Anjou Rouge
100% Cabernet Franc raised in tank. Taut,
mineral and clean, but quite old fashioned with firm acid and grippy
tannins. Shows the fact that it is grown on schist. May soften in time,
but will always remain a bit rustic and bitter. (02/08)
T:+33 2 41 77 15 01
F:+33 2 41 77 16 23
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