Tasting Notes

An appraisal of the 1989 vintage - Twenty years on  

A few words on the 1989 growing season
The year got off to a good start. Early budding (and no late spring frosts) followed by regular and early flowering meant that by the end of June the vines were already around three weeks ahead of a normal year. A hot and dry summer simply consolidated this position and all was set for a spectacular vintage.

Whilst both 1989 and 1990 are seen as precocious vintages, 1989 was marginally hotter and more sunny than 1990, with the harvest starting for the Cabernet Franc appellations on the 18th September; around 21 days earlier than the average date of any other vintage during the 1980s. 

The harvest everywhere was completed under perfect conditions, however, the hot weather may well have caught out the producers within the Cabernet Franc based appellations, who found they had to pick in the height of an Indian summer and in temperatures much hotter than would have normally been expected. Those whose cellars were equipped with the correct technology to regulate the fermentation will have benefited most, whilst growers still working with the most basic of equipment suffered from run away fermentations and the issues that result from such conditions; namely over-extracted, jammy and tannic wines. Comparisons with the harvest conditions in Bordeaux in 1982 can be drawn, where tales are often told of blocks of ice being thrown into fermenting vats to help stem the rising temperatures. Despite the potential pitfalls, 1989 was probably the best vintage for the red wines in Touraine, Anjou and Saumur since 1964.   

In Savennières 1989 became, prior to 2003, the earliest recorded harvest since the appellation came into being in 1952, commencing on or around the 26th September. Flowering was equally early, starting at the end of May or in the first few days of June.

It was also an exceptional vintage in Vouvray, comparable in quality to 1947. Like elsewhere, the mild winter and warm spring led to early budding and flowering was three weeks ahead of normal. The harvest followed a hot and perfect summer, with a nominal 10mm of rain falling each month. Picking started at the end of September and extended into early November; the weather conditions were such that there was never any hurry to bring in the crop. At Domaine Huet, this is the last time a harvest extended into November, something that Noël Pinguet directly attributes to global warming. Pinguet also states that if a vigneron were to prepare a document which stated the ideal conditions for the season, then 1989 would be the model (on the basis that you wanted to make Moelleux every year, of course). Coming after such a dearth of sweet wine vintages (one has to go back to 1971 to find anything even remotely worthy) this year was met with much international excitement. Not only is 1989 of the highest possible quality, but the yields in Vouvray were also bountiful at between 40 and 45hl/ha, which is remarkable considering the harvest consisted mainly of desiccated berries due to the dry conditions.  

FLIGHT ONE

LOIRE REDS
A very mixed flight and somewhat disappointing overall. The wines showed a little too rustic and, in some cases, the heat of the vintage with too much tannin and over-extraction. The Chinon from Charles Joguet was probably the best wine in the flight. The Foucault brother’s wines are always impressive, but too atypical for my own purist palate.

1989 Clos de Coulaine, Anjou Rouge
Mid-full. Just showing some maturity to the rim, but still pretty profound for the variety. The nose is lovely, with a classic mature Cabernet Franc aromas; lead pencils, and suitably stalky, but not unripe. Just a little confit, showing the ripeness of the vintage. Very good concentration on entry. Complex and delicate, but with an inky quality. This is still quite firm, with the tannins still present, and there is some stalkyness on the finish. The acidity appears high on the finish and it is a little rustic and over-extracted. The nose is prettier than the palate. It needs food to counteract the tannin and acidity. This could be expected to age further. (10/09)

1989 Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil ‘Clos Lolioux’, Jean-Paul Mabileau
Mature, pale appearance. Garnet to rim. Earthy and savoury with some brettanomyces. Old fashioned and very earthy on the palate, with good concentration, but now lacking any fruit or charm and is starting to dry out. The acidity is still very firm to the finish. Green and minty with some rough edges and too extracted to have ever been completely balanced. (10/09)

1989 Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil ‘Jarnoterie’, Jean-Paul Mabileau
Polished. Mature appearance. Pale red centre and mature to the rim. Old fashioned and savoury, with some complexity. It shows a true sense of place. Earthy, with lead pencils and quite ‘animal’ and ‘organic’. The palate is still quite fresh, but also earthy and just beginning to loose its fruit. The acidity is still very firm and will ultimately outlive the wine. Just beginning to dry out. Drink up. (10/09)

1989 Bourgueil ‘Cuvée Beauvais’ Pierre-Jacques Druet
Mid-depth. Youthful red appearance with no real sign of maturity or ageing. Very clean with good red fruits on the nose. Still quite pure, although the palate is a disappointment. Clean, but monotone, it has lost its fruit. Builds well, but the structure is based on acidity and tannin and is too extracted. Hollow, with no flesh and is still too tannic on the finish. Drink up. (10/09)

1989 Bourgueil ‘Vaumoreau’ Pierre-Jacques Druet
Bright appearance. Mid-full and still quite youthful. Clean, but earthy and lacks any real fruit or charm. Dull and monotone nose. The palate is better, with good fresh acidity and is well balanced, but the acidity does seem to be drying out the finish. This is a very extracted style and is hard. This will continue to age, but is likely never to reach proper maturity. (10/09)

1989 Saumur-Champigny ‘Vieilles Vignes’, Domaine Filliatreau
Polished. Mid-depth. Still youthful, with only the first signs of the colour starting to change to the rim. Very light and delicate on the nose with a faint (positive) stalky quality, with hints of mint. The wine builds well on entry, although it is a little dry on the finish. There is a little fruit left on the mid-palate and is still nicely balanced, but the acid is just beginning to carry the wine and the tannins are starting to dry the wine out. It needs food and is probably best drunk up soon. (10/09)

1989 Saumur-Champigny ‘Poyeaux’ Foucault
Polished. Still very youthful with no real sign of ageing. Very pure nose. This is distinctly menthol with the influence of oak. This could be Australian or an old fashioned Rioja, but is very well made if, for me, completely atypical. The structure is still very sound, with good balance and very fresh and integrated acidity. There is more eucalyptus to the palate and the wine is dominated by mint and oak. Will age further. This is quite typical of the Foucault style, although I find it too far removed from my idea of what Saumur-Champigny is all about. (10/09)

1989 Chinon, Domaine de Beauséjour
Polished. Mid-depth. Ruby centre, but now showing some signs of age to the rim. Clean, but slightly stalky and unripe nose, although it does retain a good, pure Cabernet Franc profile. The palate is light and earthy and fairly undistinguished. The acidity is a little too green still and the wine is hollow, lacking any real fruit. This won’t improve. (10/09)

1989 Chinon ‘Clos de l’Echo’ Couly-Dutheil
Out of condition. (10/09)

1989 Chinon ‘Clos de la Dioterie’ Charles Joguet
Mid-depth red with very good graduation to the rim. Complex nose, although there is a hint of brettanomyces here, which to be fair, adds (rather than detracts) to the overall experience. The palate is seductive, with lots of interest. It appears just to be starting to dry out on the finish with the acidity starting to carry the wine. Complex and delicate and still very fresh. Ideally, needs food. Earthy and sous-bois with good texture. This should hold for a few more years, although will not improve further. (10/09)

FLIGHT TWO

THE BERRY
A token (if fatigued) red linked this flight to the previous. For a market that insists on drinking the youngest available vintage of Sauvignon, these wines were a revelation; still incredibly pure and fresh with no sign of negative ageing. They are certainly worth seeking out in cellars and on wine lists.

1989 Sancerre Rouge, Vacheron
Very shallow and mature appearance. Distinctly old orange-brown Pinot-like rim. Attractive, proper and gentle old Pinot Noir nose; organic and animal. It is clearly not Burgundy, but still quite pretty. Sadly, the palate is completely dried out with only the bare bones of acidity remaining. (10/09)

1989 Pouilly-Fumé ‘Cuvée Vieilles Vignes Tradition Culus’ Masson-Blondelet
Polished. Pale appearance with still some hints of green. Very promising. The nose is lovely, with pure Sauvignon fruit, even after twenty years. There is a hint of reduction, or the nose of silex/gunflint which adds to the overall flinty complexity. Very fine and delicate on entry, with the flavours of white flowers, suggesting the first signs of the wine ageing. Delicate with a fine, lacy, chalky texture to the finish. There is no rush to drink up. Excellent. (10/09)

1989 Sancerre ‘Chavignol – La Grande Côte’ Francis Cotat
Bright. Mid-depth appearance. This is very typical Cotat: broad and rich on the nose and restrained to the point of almost being closed. The underlying aroma is of white flowers and acacia. The palate has an underlying richness. Powerful, with a sense of the alcohol showing through a little (typical of the late harvested style of Cotat), but with flint and aniseed flavours alongside acacia and more white flowers. Despite the richness there is an intense thread of acidity running through the wine, which builds well to a rich and concentrated finish. This still has more to give and should hold for many years to come. Excellent. (10/09)

1989 Sancerre ‘La Bourgeoise’ Henri Bourgeois
Very pale and youthful. The wine is barely evolved. The nose is still lovely and fresh with still quite primary Sauvignon fruit character on both the nose and palate, with elements of flint/reduction which only benefits to the overall complexity. Great purity and a smoky minerality. It is still tight, but very fine. This wine still has a very long life ahead of it, but is lovely and seductive now. (10/09)

1989 Sancerre ‘Saint-Charles’, Henri Bourgeois
According to Jean-Marie Bourgeois, this is the first official ‘late harvest’ Sancerre produced in the appellation. Historically, its profile has always been closer to an Alsation Pinot-Gris than Sauvignon. Sadly, both bottles opened for the 1989 tasting were out of condition; one corked (a common problem with the bottling of this specific wine) and one ullaged/oxidised, but thankfully a third bottle (added into the 1990 tasting) proved to be much better. Luminous green appearance. Very youthful. Intense nose and distinctly Vendange Tardive in style, with richly complex, almost savoury notes. Flavours of green asparagus and peas. Rich on entry and builds well. Broad. Very rich and powerful. The alcohol shows a little. This is still very much on a plateau and will last for years to come. (04/10)

FLIGHT THREE

TOURAINE
A limited flight of satellite appellations within Touraine, these were competent if not particularly inspiring examples.

1989 Azay-le-Rideau (unknown grower)
We are still trying to identify the grower of this mystery bottle. Pale straw appearance. Clean nose, with a good, old fashioned Chenin expression. Slight wet-wool, marzipan and terpene aromas. Lean, austere and bone dry on entry with an intense thread of acidity. This is still very youthful, if preserved by the acidity level alone. There is a chalky, malic texture to the palate with a tight mineral finish. The linear acidity suggests this wine will continue to age, even if it won’t improve. It is drinking well now, even if only of real interest to Chenin purists. (10/09)  

1989 Touraine-Mesland, Demi-Sec, Philippe Brossillon, Domaine de Lusqueneau
Dull appearance. Mid-depth, yellow-straw. Dull and simple nose, although does show some richness and density. Not very expressive. A little chemical, dusty and grubby and a little flat, although it retains a good Chenin character. The palate is better, with very good acid balance and linearity, and a chalky, mineral texture. Juicy on the finish, with a apple-like freshness. This is still in its middle age and shows no sign of tiring. An interesting if minor classic. (10/09)

1989 Jasnières Jean-Baptiste Pinon
After opening three separate bottles, it was agreed that there might be two different bottlings here, as one was much richer than the other. The labels were almost identically marked, although it is noted that Robin Yapp (from whom these bottles were purchased in the early 1990s) did offer out a moelleux bottling.

There was also some negative maturity in two of the bottles (which is why back-up bottles were called upon). Of the better bottle : Polished appearance. Deep orange. The nose is of old fashioned Chenin; typical baked, or bruised apple and distinctly rustic. The wine builds well on the palate, if a little tired on the finish. It is beginning to dry out. Still very honest and satisfying, although still distinctly lean in the context of the vintage. Drink up. (10/09) 

FLIGHT FOUR

MONTLOUIS
This was a relatively small flight considering the size and importance of the region. It include wines from both Berger and Moyer who were considered to be two of the best exponents of the appellation during this period, although neither examples are as distinguished as their peers in Vouvray in the flights that follow.

1989 Montlouis Moelleux, Christian Martin
Dull, mid-pale appearance. Yellow-straw. Quite dull and simple, although it retains an honest Chenin nose. A little old-fashioned and not particularly distinguished or expressive. The palate is still firm and mineral, and pretty dry (or dried out) for a moelleux. Rustic and earthy on the finish, with some flavours of apples and quince. There is a still an attractive thread of acidity on the finish. It’s a minor wine for drinking now, but won’t improve any further. (10/09)

1989 Montlouis ‘L’ Christian Martin
Dull, mid-depth. Straw-yellow. The nose is broad with some aromas of marzipan (which indicates it is starting to tire). Dull and not very expressive, although it does retain some positive Chenin character. The palate is better, if a little earthy. It is pretty one dimensional with an earthy quality. Phenolic on the finish. It falls short and is unlikely to improve further. There are some flavours of quince to the finish and although it shows some sweetness it is not obvious. A modest wine. (09/10)

1989 Montlouis ‘Clos Habert’ François Chidaine
Polished. Mid-pale, yellow-straw. Clean but subdued nose. Not very expressive and also a little grubby. Some terpene character behind. The nose is also lactic and shows a little wood. The palate is earthy and old fashioned, with some minerality, but it lacks depth and fruit. The acid is distinctly low and the wine is tiring quickly as a result. Short and flabby and lacking balance. Drink up. (10/09)

1989 Montlouis ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Berger Frères, Domaine des Liards
Bright. Deep yellow-gold. Delicate and attractive bruised apple nose. Very gentle and a little earthy. Fine, dry and mineral on entry with very good structure and length. There is a lovely acid balance and tension with very firm apple-like flavours. The wine retains a good grip and should hold and possibly evolve further. There is no formal indication of the style on the label, although it is on the cusp of being a sec-tendre. Very good. (10/09)

1989 Montlouis Moelleux, Dominique Moyer
Polished. Yellow-gold. Broad, delicate and very complex, even though it still appears very restrained. The sweetness shows on the palate, with lovely fresh acidity. Great balance with flavours of apple, quince, pears and a touch of honey. Very juicy, with a persistent finish. Excellent and no rush to drink this up. (10/09)

FLIGHT FIVE

VOUVRAY – VARIOUS
A mixed bag in every sense, with variable styles and quality. It also highlights the infuriating habit of some growers not to indicate the style of specific bottlings on their labels. The Daniel Jarry wine is the highlight of this particular flight.

1989 Demi-Sec, Caves Mirault
Dull. Straw-yellow. Grubby Chenin nose. Unclean and undistinguished. Thin and drying out. Poor (10/09)

1989 Marc Brédif
Bright. Mid-depth. Yellow with green hints. The nose is quite funky and distinctly reductive, with elements of gunflint. The palate also shows the tight, reductive character and is dry with a lean structure. The texture is good, although has a phenolic edge to the finish. There is just a hint of quince and honey. There is no indication on the label (one of the great frustrations of buying Vouvray from certain growers), but this is distinctly Sec. There is no rush to drink up, although the reductive character may ensure that the wine never fully matures. (10/09)

1989 Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau ‘Tris de Grains Nobles’
Luminous appearance. Deep, orange-bronze. Distinctive nose with obvious sweetness and evidence of botrytis. Lush and deeply flavoured on entry, but also retains a sense of dryness with a lovely thread of acidity running through the wine. Very well textured, with more botrytis character showing on the palate. Very confit, with flavours of dried fruits, apricot, peach and fig, to the finish. Good structure, although it just falls a little short on the end, with the alcohol showing a little. Drinking well now, but should hold. (10/09)

1989 Château Gaudrelle ‘Réserve Spéciale’
Polished. Still quite pale with a straw-coloured appearance. The nose is lush and flattering, although appears layered with new oak which hasn’t completely integrated into the wine. Well focused on entry, with good weight and balance, but the oak flattens the wine out and it falls short and flabby on the finish. Unlikely to improve any further. (10/09)

1989 ‘Doux’ Daniel Jarry
Polished. Mid-depth. Yellow with distinctly green hints offering a promising graduating colour to the rim. Typical of the wines of Jarry, it is very shy on the nose; reserved and understated, but still is a classic example of Vouvray. There is a ‘green’ note to both the nose and the palate and very taut, with thrilling acidity at the fore before the sugar rush comes through. Very restrained but with great focus. This still has more to give with decades still ahead of it. Very good. (10/09)

1989 Bourillon-Dorleans Moelleux ‘Coulée d'Or’
Bright. Deep orange-bronze appearance. The nose shows some evidence of botrytis, with an aroma of dried orange peel. The palate shows great weight and focus with more evidence of botrytis. It is just let down a little on the finish, which is short and clumsy with the alcohol showing a little. Unlikely to improve. Best drunk up. (10/09)

FLIGHT SIX

VOUVRAY – CLOS BAUDOIN
'Clos Baudoin' was the name of the posh five hectare vineyard, occasionally vinified dry - but more often produced as a moëlleux - when vintage conditions allowed. Aigle Blanc was from the remaining 17 hectares and effectively used as a second label. 

An interesting trio from Prince Poniatowski, which helped to confirm my view that the wines are sound, but are not worthy of being in the top flight of growers. Taken in isolation, these wines are very good, but lack the precision one should expect from a great vintage.

1989 Domaine Baudoin Moelleux
Bright. Mid-depth, straw-yellow, going on gold. Ripe but dull nose and a little clumsy. Evidence of quince behind, but still a little shallow. The palate is better and builds nicely, with very good texture, with flavours of quince and pears. Well balanced. This is still not within the better wines of the vintage, but its a classic style and whilst drinking well now, it should hold a few years more. (10/09)

1989 Domaine Baudoin ‘Clos de l’Avenir’ Moelleux
Bright. Mid-pale and still youthful in appearance. Very quiet and reserved nose. Delicate, with some apple like aromas and a chalky, mineral edge. The palate is delicate and equally reserved, but the acidity is clean and fresh and wine shows focus and good length, if ultimately a little simple. It is well balanced and not obviously sweet. This is a classic Vouvray and still quite youthful. No rush to drink. (10/09)

1989 Domaine Baudoin ‘Aigle Blanc – Vin de Tris’
Dull appearance. Rich, full orange-gold. Distinctive toffee apple nose, but also a little too caramelised to the point of being a little too monotone. The palate is a little more expressive, with green fruit (greengages or green fig) and quite obvious sweetness, although this is reigned in by the acidity. Flavours echo the caramel and toffee apple of the nose. Good weight and balance. This is drinking well now, but will continue to age for a good while yet. (10/09)  

FLIGHT SEVEN

VOUVRAY – ANDRÉ AND BERNARD FOUQUET; FATHER AND SON
It was only the second stand alone vintage for a young Bernard Fouquet, but his reputation was secured by the quality of the wines he produced in 1989. Fortunate as he might have been, setting up cellar the year before the greatest vintage since 1947, he was able to repeat the performance in 1990, propelling him into the premier league of Vouvray growers, a position that he has maintained for the past two decades. 

1989 Demi-Sec, André Fouquet
Bright. Pale yellow-straw. Attractive, proper, old fashioned Vouvray. Delicate on entry with a ripe, creamy texture. The wine has very good focus and fresh acidity. This is still youthful with great balance although, understandably, it is very rich for a demi-sec, being more like a petit moelleux. The finish is persistent. Very good, and no rush to drink up. (10/09)

1989 Moelleux ‘Grande Année’ André Fouquet
Mid-full. Orange-bronze appearance. The nose is broad and full of honeycomb, quince and apple. The palate shows more raisined berries rather than botrytis and as such is a true expression of the vintage and the style. This is still youthful and shows no real sign of maturity. It can be expected to age for many years. (10/09)

1989 Domaine des Aubusières ‘Grande Année’ Bernard Fouquet
Relatively pale, orange-bronze appearance. The nose is delicate, with aromas of orange and caramel. The wine is different from that above (I always suspected that they might be the same), but is of a similar style and quality. Excellent tension on entry and distinctly moelleux, but with lovely acid balance. There is great freshness here. This is distinguished and in a different class. It is still very youthful. A complete wine. (10/09)

1989 Domaine des Aubusières ‘Sélection Grains Nobles’ 
Bright. Mid-full. Orange-bronze. Quiet on the nose and not very expressive, although it is true to the appellation and vintage. It is delicate, with aromas of quince, dried apricots and toasted brioche. The palate is more open and expressive with great focus and linear acidity. It builds well, with massive concentration to the finish, but without loosing sight of itself. Despite the richness and obvious sweetness, there is still an underlying minerality running through the wine. Excellent and with absolutely no sign of ageing. (10/09)

1989 Domaine des Aubusières ‘Le Marigny – Sélection Grains Nobles’
Polished. Mid-full. Orange-bronze. Rich and broad on the nose with noticeable botrytis. The nose is toasty with the impression of oak, although this appears to be an inherent quality within the wine. This is fantastic; wonderful structure, balance and freshness. Perfectly poised, with a complex array of flavours; oranges, quince, apricot. Highly textured, almost to the point of being phenolic on the finish. Great persistence and precision. It is the acid structure that really makes this wine. It will continue to develop over many years. Exceptional. (10/09)  

FLIGHT EIGHT

VOUVRAY – PHILIPPE FOREAU
Whilst there was a strategic release of a Sec in 1989, this is undoubtedly a great sweet wine vintage for Foreau. The sweet wines have (unlike Huet) always been thrilling to drink having never closed up in bottle. Whist the limited release ‘Réserve 1ère Trie’ was dangerously seductive in its youth, time has seen it fatten out to the point of becoming a little obese. It is still undoubtedly a great wine and will continue to give pleasure for decades to come, but it now lacks the real finesse of its well-toned siblings.  

1989 Domaine du Clos Naudin Sec
Very pale. Straw appearance with a hint of orange. The nose is reductive, although behind there is the over-mature aromas of white flowers. This is beginning to tire without ever becoming fully mature. The palate is classic old fashioned Vouvray, with firm, linear acidity. It is a little grubby and understandably, a little too ripe for a true sec. The acidity is now carrying the wine and it is beginning to dry out. It needs drinking up. (10/09)

1989 Domaine du Clos Naudin Moelleux
Polished. Mid-full, yellow-gold. The nose is lovely; refined, floral and taffeta-like. The palate also. Delicate and complex, with an array of different flavours showing through; mandarins, white flowers, acacia, magnolia flowers, all of which flows like silk. Refined, ethereal and barely evolved. A wonderful wine, with barely any real sense of age. This could be expected to age for several decades more. (10/09)

1989 Domaine du Clos Naudin Moelleux Réserve
Bright. Mid-full, orange-bronze. Explosive on the nose, it is very broad, open and expressive with a complex array of aromas, centered on different types of mint; eucalyptus, spearmint and catmint. The wine shows more maturity than the straight moelleux, but still has lovely balance and racy acidity. The flavour of mint pervades the palate too. This also has many years still ahead of it. (10/09)

1989 Domaine du Clos Naudin ‘Réserve 1ère Trie’
The words ‘1ère Trie’ were written onto the label by Philippe Foreau himself for this limited super cuvée. Polished. Deep orange-gold. The initial impression on the nose is of barley sugar, with obvious deep concentration and richness. In truth, the concentration is almost too intense, taking it slightly out of balance. The palate is heavy and weighty, fully ripe and showing botrytis, but with still the same lovely persistent thread of acidity running through the wine. This is still lively and very long, but lacks the clean-cut quality of the Moelleux Réserve. (10/09) 

FLIGHT NINE

VOUVRAY - DOMAINE HUET
At Domaine Huet, token sec and demi-sec were made but, understandably, this is a year to focus on the various expressions of moelleux.

In contrast to the wines of Philippe Foreau, which have always been open and accessible, the three Première Trie wines from Huet have barely evolved, and are even now in a state of dormancy. For those fortunate enough to have the full range in their cellar, Le Haut Lieu is the wine that should be broached first, whilst Le Mont is still lost in its adolescent youth. Patience will prove that Le Clos du Bourg is the most impressive of the trio, but each can be expected offer great pleasure as they begin to reveal their true identity over the coming decades.

This vintage delivered the first ever release of the now legendary Cuvée Constance, named in honour of Gaston Huet’s mother. The 1989 consists of the first and last pressings of the Le Mont 1ere Trie, blended with the two experimental wines from vineyards then in conversion to biodynamic farming. As previously mentioned, there was very little botrytis this vintage due to the hot and dry conditions, however Cuvée Constance was harvested, at 5hl/ha, from berries affected only by noble rot. Whilst the wine is faultless (Michael Broadbent MW wrote 1991 that it was ‘The most perfect Loire wine I have ever tasted’ and awarded it six (out of five) stars), I do continue to question whether this cuvée is a true representation of the appellation or the vintage, as once this level of botrytis is achieved, the resulting wine begins to loose its sense of place behind the enormous levels of concentration.

1989 Le Haut-Lieu Sec
Bright. Pale straw. This is barely evolved, either in appearance or on the nose, which is still tight and reductive. The palate is also very tight with more reductive elements. The wine hasn’t aged and probably never will. Tight, even severe, on the finish with a chalky texture. Drink up. (10/09)

1989 Le Haut Lieu Demi-Sec
Bright. Mid-depth, yellow. Broad nose, but not very complex with some faint reduction, but showing more evolution, with aromas of quince and toffee apple. The palate is still quite tight and mineral. This is still worthy, if not particularly interesting. Unlikely to improve. (10/09)

1989 Le Haut-Lieu Moelleux
Polished. Mid-depth, straw-yellow. Very clean, if initially a little simple on the nose. There is a deceptive impression of some oak. The palate is lovely, and much more open and expressive. It is still very fresh and barely evolved, with racy acidity which helps to carry the finish. Very good poise and texture. Persistent and dangerously drinkable. This will age for another twenty years, at least. (10/09)  

1989 Le Haut-Lieu Moelleux ‘Première Trie’
Polished. Mid-depth, orange-brown. The nose is very delicate and restrained to the point of being closed. Lovely on entry, with great poise and restraint. Very fresh and clean with racy acidity with flavours of quince and pear. It is still taut and despite the obvious sweetness, there is an underlying thread of minerality. Persistent. This is still very youthful and has more to give. (10/09)

1989 Le Mont Moelleux ‘Première Trie’
Polished. Mid-depth, yellow-gold. Typical of Le Mont, it is still very taut and restrained. There is a slight mint and eucalyptus character to the aroma profile. The palate is profoundly mineral with greater weight, concentration and linear acidity. It is still very backward and in need of much more ageing. It is likely to be the last of the trio of Première Trie to come round. (10/09)

1989 Le Clos du Bourg Moelleux ‘Première Trie’
Polished. A little deeper than its peers ; distinctly orange-brown. The nose is very fine, clean and lifted. It still appears a little restrained, but is certainly more accessible than Le Mont. The palate is taut and mineral with a racy edge to the acidity. It appears a little leaner and drier in comparison, but with great structure and balance. The wine is barely evolved and probably will prove to be the greatest of the three wines, albeit each is likely to achieve its full maturity in different decades going forward. (10/09)

1989 Cuvée Constance
Luminous appearance. Orange-gold. Rich and intense on the nose. There are aromas of confit fruits; dried apricots and peach, with baked spiced apple and quince. Very delicate and very complex. The palate is rich and concentrated on entry, with a lovely thread of acidity running through the wine. Wonderful structure and length. A faultless yet extreme sweet wine; one that has surpassed the character of the vintage and the appellation. (10/09)  

FLIGHT TEN

ANJOU-SAUMUR
A minor flight of two modest wines.

1989 Anjou Demi-Sec, Domaine de Fresche
Polished. Very pale, still green hues to the rim. The nose is clean but rustic and old fashioned. Typical floral Chenin nose that is just beginning to tire. It is light and easy on the palate with quite firm acidity. A true demi-sec that will be preserved by the freshness of the acidity, but is best drunk now. This won’t improve any further. (10/09)

1989 Coteaux du Saumur, Jean-Claude Bourdin
Polished appearance. Mid-depth. Bronze, but with some flashes of green. The nose is very simple and the wine is tiring quickly. Faint aromas of barley sugar and baked apples. The palate is drier than the nose suggests; very clean and crisp on the finish, even if the acid carries the wine. Not very distinguished, although perfectly decent. Needs drinking. (10/09)

FLIGHT ELEVEN

COTEAUX DU LAYON, QUARTS DE CHAUME AND BONNEZEAUX
Tragically, this proved to be the most disappointing flight of the whole tasting and raised concerns about the variable quality and questions of some of the fairly primitive winemaking practices used at the time. The wines of Domaine Terrebrune, then under the control of the late René Renou were, sadly, the greatest disappointment off all, with each of the three wines tasted being well beyond their sell by dates. The Domaine des Baumard wines showed true to their house style, and were still very youthful and barely evolved, but it was the relatively unknown Domaine Banchereau with their Coteaux du Layon Chaume, ‘Cuvée Privilege’ that was the stand-out wine in this flight. Sadly, this grower no longer exists; the vineyards being sold off and the cellar in Saint-Aubin-de-Luigné demolished to make way for a new village school.

Given the reputation of the vintage, the wines should have been much better, demonstrating greater consistency. There were too few great wines here (in relation to the earlier Vouvray flights). Let’s hope that the 1990 vintage wines are an improvement on this showing.   

1989 Coteaux du Layon Faye-d’Anjou, Domaine des Saulaies, Philippe Leblanc
Polished. Mid-depth. Yellow with some green hints. A bit rustic, earthy and old fashioned. The aromas of white flowers suggest this is beginning to fade. The wine has good texture on entry, but is a bit flat and displays a simple sweetness on the palate. Flavours of marzipan confirm this is starting to tire. Undistinguished. Drink up. (10/09)

1989 Coteaux du Layon Chaume, Château de la Guimonière
Polished. Lovely graduation, from a mid-depth bronze, with flashes of green to the rim. The nose is a little grubby and old fashioned, although the palate is much better; well textured with very good balance and retaining real freshness. The acidity is still juicy and racy through to the finish. There are flavours of aniseed and very much true to the vintage and the appellation. The palate appears almost dry on the finish, such is the balance. Very good and this will continue to hold. (10/09)

1989 Coteaux du Layon Chaume, ‘Cuvée Privilege’ Domaine Banchereau
Luminous gold. Mid-full. One just knows this is going to be a star wine simply from its appearance. Deep and intense nose that is extremely complex. There are a complex array of aromas which evoke notes of toffee apple, caramel and menthol. On the palate, one is struck by the poise of the structure, texture and overall balance, yet the flavour profile is equally as complex as the nose. There is a very fine linear edge to the acidity and a persistent finish. This still has a distinguished and very long life ahead of it. Exceptional. (10/09) 

1989 Coteaux du Layon Beaulieu ‘Vieilles Vignes’, Château du Breuil
Polished. Mid-depth with a complex green-gold appearance. The nose is quite simple and monotone, whilst the palate is well balance but a bit one dimensional. The finish is short and clumsy. This won’t improve and is best drunk up. (10/09)

1989 Coteaux du Layon ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Château de Breuil
A different label to the above, although the specifications are the same. I suspect this is a separate bottling. Polished. Deep yellow-gold. The nose is concentrated with the impression of oak. It also appears a little savoury and is starting to dry out. The wine falls short on the finish, lacking acidity and appearing flabby. Dull with the wood still showing. Drink up. (10/09)

1989 Coteaux de Layon, Moulin Touchais
Polished. Mid-depth. Yellow-green. Faintly terpene nose which is a little dull and flat, despite the true Chenin character. The palate is ripe with some obvious residual sugar and flavour of licorish. Fairly typical Moulin Touchais; acceptable, if a little dull. This will continue to age although is unlikely to improve. (10/09)

1989 Coteaux du Layon, ‘Reserve des nos vignobles’ Moulin Touchais
Luminous appearance. Mid-full. Yellow-green. The nose is simple, with a facile waxy-Chenin character. Quite lean, to the point of being ‘green’ and a simple sweetness to the palate. Falls short. This is dull and ordinary. (10/09)

1989 Coteaux du Layon, Moelleux, Domaine des Petits Quarts, Godineau
Polished. Mid-full. Deep yellow-gold. A little bit flat on the nose with a simple confectionary-like sweetness. Good acidity on entry, but lacks a little substance and flesh, with flavours of barley sugar and caramel to the finish. Taut and quite an old fashioned style. It could age further as the acid balance is still fine, but it is unlikely to improve. (10/09)

1989 Coteaux du Layon ‘Clos Ste Catherine’ Domaine des Baumard
Luminous appearance. Mid-depth with flashes of yellow-green. Typical of Baumard, this is still pale and unevolved. Despite the complex appearance, the nose is a little monotone, with herbal hints and a simple sweetness. The palate shows some barley sugar, but also the same herbal and green expression, often associated with the Baumard style. The acid balance is good and the finish appears quite dry. There is no rush to drink this up, although it is unlikely to improve further. (10/09)

1989 Coteaux du Layon ‘Cuvée Payon’ Domaine des Baumard
Polished. This is still quite pale for its age. Mid-depth. Yellow, with green hints. True Baumard. There is some faint reduction on the nose and a green/herbal character, typical of the house style. Very good focus on entry with proper structure and length. This still has more to offer and shouldn’t tire at any point soon. Sturdy, with good length. Restrained and not obviously sweet. (10/09)

1989 Quarts de Chaume, Domaine des Baumard
Polished. Mid-full orange, but with flashes of green. The nose is lovely, with hints of toffee and caramel. It is both delicate and refined. The palate shows more desiccation than botrytis, with hints of barley sugar and more toffee apple. This is very clean, taut and mineral, with some flintiness or reduction, which only adds to the overall complexity. This is still youthful with a think thread of acidity running through the wine. Good balance and texture. This will continue to age and develop. (10/09)

1989 Quarts de Chaume, Château Bellerive
Polished. Deep orange/bronze with good colour graduation to the rim. Complex appearance. The nose appears quite lean, dry and mineral. The palate is also taut, but also a little flat and simple, with an underlying earthiness. Rustic, with firm acidity to the finish which makes it seem quite dry. There is a sensation of alcohol burn to the finish. This may well hold, but won’t improve. (10/09)

1989 Quarts de Chaume, Jean Bondu
Bright. Mid-depth. Yellow-gold appearance. Quite simple, rustic and old fashioned on the nose and palate. Fresh acidity on the palate, but this is its only redeeming factor. Short and simple. Undistinguished. Drink up. (10/09)

1989 Quarts de Chaume, Joseph Renou
Polished. Mid-depth. Yellow with flashes of green. The nose shows good richness and depth, with aromas of toffee and barley sugar. The palate starts mid weight, but the wine builds nicely, displaying very good structure and weight, with lovely, lacy acidity. This is intense and still very youthful with more to offer. (10/09)

1989 Bonnezeaux, Domaine de Terrebrune
Polished. Deep bronze appearance. Dull nose, with nothing more than simple burnt toffee notes. The palate is clumsy and flat, with simple flavours of caramel. Confit and alcoholic, with a short finish. Well past its best. (10/09)

1989 Bonnezeaux ‘Trie de Vendange’ Domaine Terrebrune
Deep orange-bronze appearance. Dull on both nose and palate with a savoury edge. This, sadly is completely finished. (10/09)

1989 Bonnezeaux ‘La Montagne’ Domaine Terrebrune
Bright. Mid-depth appearance. Dull and grubby on the nose and palate. The wine shows a little freshness in the acidity, but the wine lacks any fruit or flesh. One dimensional and has essentially fallen apart. (10/09)

1989 Bonnezeaux ‘Malabé’ Godineau Domaine des Petits Quarts, Godineau
Luminous. Mid-full appearance. Orange-gold. Clean and fresh on the nose, it displays good weight and structure on the palate with a faint caramel flavour. The alcohol shows a little on the finish, but this could be expected to age and possibly evolve further. (10/09)

1989 Bonnezeaux ‘La Chapelle’ Château de Fesles
Luminous. Mid-dull. Orange-gold. The nose is a little dull and flat without much character. The palate is better, with good weight and concentration and flavours of toffee and caramel. Intense, with the alcohol showing a little. This is still youthful, but in the context of this flight it doesn’t appear to be the distinguished wine that it should be. Drink or hold. It probably won’t improve. (10/09)

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Other Wines :
I have added in a handful of notes, mainly of 1989 Savennières which were consciously excluded from the retrospective tasting, but which have all been tasted in the past year or so.

1989 Malvoisie Coteaux d'Ancenis, Jacques Guindon
Mid-depth appearance. Shows some maturity but retains some green hints. Delicate nose but shows the ripeness of the vintage. Mature Chenin-like nose with faint hints of nuts and honey. Delicate praline flavour to the entry and the finish. There is obvious residual sugar; this is more like a petit moelleux. Very delicate with good balance and decent length. No rush to drink. A nice surprise. This bottle was drunk at the Hotel Grand Monarque in Chartres where it was on the list at a staggering 19 Euros. (05/10)

1989 Coteaux du Vendômois Rouge, Domaine Jean Martellière
There is Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, along with Pineau d’Aunis and a little Pinot Noir. Bright. Mid full with some garnet hints. Very good mature graduation to the rim. This still shows some good fruit to the nose. Broad, and slightly smoky and savoury. Distinctly ‘organic’ nose, and the profile is more like a Cahors or other south west red. The palate is still dense and square and lacks real structure. There is still fruit on the palate, but the tannins are dry and noticeable. This might come good, but the tannins might outlive the fruit. Juicy acidity. (12/08)

1989 Savennières ‘Cuvée Madame’  Domaine du Closel  
Polished. Mid-depth yellow with youthful green hints. Very attractive, open, rich and complex nose. Smokey, terpene, mineral. Faintly rustic and old fashioned in style. On the palate, it shows white flowers and marzipan. This is gentle and mature but retains a good mineral expression. The riper conditions of the vintage show through. This is something as a surprise. Still in very good condition and there is no rush to drink this up. (04/08)  

1989 Savennières Clos du Papillon'  Domaine du Closel  
Mid-depth. Hints of orange. Mature nose, but gently complex. Open and expressive. The palate appears much fresher and cleaner, retaining good focus and structure. Builds nicely, with very good balance. There is some flint or reductive character. Elegant and understated style. Authentic and faintly pithy on the finish. This is still in very good condition and there is no rush to drink. This note is lifted from a tasting of Clos du Papillon 1988 to 2007 tasted at the domaine (02/10)

1989 Savennières – Roche aux Moines, Domaine aux Moines
Very deep, mature orange-brown appearance. Sadly tired and oxidised nose with a savoury, vegetal, onion-like nose. Dried out and past its best. (04/08)

1989 Savennières ‘Clos du Papillon’, Domaine de Baumard
Polished. Deep yellow/green. Broad, rich and complex gunflint/reductive nose. The tertiary notes are greater than the primary fruits. Solid and powerful, this is almost more akin to Alsatian Tokay-Pinot Gris than Chenin. Concentrated, but lacks a bit of acidity. Well textured the (15%) alcohol shows a little on the finish. Pithy, grapefruit edge. Drinking now, but could evolve further. (04/08)

1989 Savennières Clos de Coulaine
Polished. Mid-depth. Orange-gold. Mature nose with a savoury edge. Madeira-like and a little cheesy and earthy and starting to look tired. Marmite too on the nose. Mid-full on entry. Rich and rounded, with more savoury flavours. Intense and persistent, it is distinctly mature and shows some ripeness with noticeable alcohol on the finish. It feels a bit ‘hot’. Mature and needs drinking up. (04/09)

Bibliography:

The Vine # 70 – (November 1990) – 1989 Chinon ‘A Wine Worthy of Rabelais’ – Clive Coates MW The Vine # 92 – (September 1992) - Bourgueil ‘The Fine 1989 and 1990 Vintages’ – Clive Coates MW
Vintage Wine – Michael Broadbent MW (2002 Websters)  
Vintage Timecharts - Jancis Robinson MW (1989 Mitchell Beazley)