Tasting Notes

An appraisal of the 1990 vintage - Twenty years on  

A few words on the 1990 growing season
The 1990 vintage is the last of a trio of consecutive great years in the Loire. Apart from some issues with frost in Muscadet, the growing season along the valley can only be described as ideal. Flowering was early although a little uneven. In Savennières, it was the earliest ever recorded, starting in the last few days of May. June was cool but, for the second year in a row, drought was an issue during July and August with the vines closing down due to water and heat stress. This ultimately delayed the harvest by a few days, although this was still a precocious vintage when compared to the two or three decades that precede it. That said, 1990 was marginally cooler and less sunny than 1989. The hot summer was broken by humid conditions in the early mornings during September and October, ensuring that, in the Chenin appellations, noble rot set in and quickly took hold of the grapes. These early morning mists allowed for superb and sweet wines to be made. In the Berry there was some intermittent rain and some minor hail damage in Sancerre, and in Chinon September storms ensured that the crop was diluted somewhat, although the reputation of the vintages ensures this is still considered a legendary year. In terms of volume, 1990 was slightly more abundant than 1989. 


FLIGHT ONE

LOIRE REDS
Like with the 1989 red wine flight, this was a very mixed bag 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 Clos des Cordeliers, for me, was the best wine. The Foucault brother’s wines always flatter, but too atypical for my own purist palate.

1990 Anjou Rouge, Château de la Roche aux Moines, Mme A Joly  
The last year that red wine was produced in the Joly cellar. Opaque. Dull red showing some evolution to the rim. The nose is delicate, light and earthy or even grubby. This is still distinctly Cabernet Franc, even if the fruit has faded. Light on entry with good red fruit flavours on the mid palate. The tannins, however, remain brutal. This was over extracted and will never soften. It will keep but not improve. (04/10)

1990 Anjou Rouge, Clos de Coulaine  
Dull appearance. Mid depth and now showing its age. The nose is clean, if a little herbal, but good weight and focus. The palate is more earthy; it builds well and has good grip. The tannins are still noticeable and the wine somewhat over-extracted and bitter to the finish. This should keep, but it won't improve. (04/10)

1990 Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil ‘Prestige’, Jean-Paul Mabileau  
The father of Frédéric. Dull appearance and showing some age, but with a good graduation to the rim. Delicate and lifted nose. Earthy and herbal. Attractive. The palate is delicate with fresh, lifted acidity. Gravelly tannins. The wine builds nicely, although it is the acidity that carries the finish. There is an attractive savoury edge too. Good length. This is still holding up well, although best drunk up. (04/10)

1990 Bourgueil ‘Cuvée Ronsard’ Domaine des Galluches, Jean Gambier  
Very pale and shallow. Dull, opaque appearance. Bitty. The nose is of meat paste and bovril; savoury and cheesy. This has sadly lost all its fruit. Dull and grubby on the palate, it is short and dried out. The only thing left is the acidity which lingers at the finish. A poor bottle? (04/10) 

1990 Bourgueil ‘Cuvée Grand Mont’ Pierre-Jacques Druet  
Bright appearance with very good graduation to the rim. Mid-pale and showing its age. The nose is delicate and still very fresh and is not as advanced as the colour suggests. The wine still retains some attractive red fruit character. Delicate on entry, with gravelly tannins which are still very supple. Clean and well focused with almost crunchy acidity to the finish. This is still very fresh, lively and in good condition. Will age further. (04/10)

1990 Chinon, Domaine de Beauséjour  
Bright but pale. This is quickly loosing its colour. Shallow appearance. Garnet rim. The nose is mineral with oyster shell overtones. The palate has lost its fruit and has dried out. Short. Ordinary. Drink up. (04/10)

1990 Chinon ‘Cuvée des Cireaux Vieilles Vignes’, Domaine Chapellerie, Jean-François Olek  
Dull, opaque appearance. Mature, but with good graduation. The nose is clean, ripe and very
pure; it's still holding its fruit well. Good structure and balance, although a little taut and grippy.
The impression is that this is just starting to fade and dry out, with some granular tannins to the
finish. Drinking well now, but close to the end of its natural life. (04/10) 

1990 Chinon ‘Les Picasses’ Olga Raffault  
Bright. Very good graduation to pale rim. The nose is restrained and not giving much away. Gravelly on the nose with hints of menthol. The palate is very open with good structure. This is holding up well. Taut and mineral, displaying very good Cabernet Franc expression. Supple but with some grip. Very clean with fresh acidity to the finish. Very good. This is mature, but it will hold further. (04/10)

1990 Chinon ‘Clos de l’Echo’ Couly-Dutheil  
Bright. Mid depth. Mature. This has a strange, earthy, bruised cider apple nose that reminds me of Calvados. The same flavours pervade the palate. This is grippy and dried out displaying unripe stalky, green tannins. Poor. (04/10)

1990 Saumur-Champigny ‘Cuvée Prestige’ Clos des Cordeliers  
Tasted from magnum obtained directly from the cellar. Polished. Youthful appearance. Still retains its colour. This has barely evolved. Very attractive nose that is pure and clean. Excellent focus on the palate. This builds well. Taut with excellent grip. Powerful and concentrated with good balance. This still appears very youthful, displaying excellent Cabernet Franc character. Long finish. This has the potential to evolve and age much longer. Excellent. (04/10)  

1990 Saumur-Champigny Domaine de Sanzay
Mature appearance. Pale with a garnet rim. The nose is distinctly mature Cabernet Franc; sous-bois and earthy but with real charm. Delicate on both nose and palate, it retains a little red fruit but is still pure despite its age. Drinking well now, but could hold further. This bottle was drunk over dinner in Saumur. (01/10)

1990 Saumur-Champigny 'Poyeux' Clos Rougeard, Foucault
This was aged in second-hand barrels from Château Margaux. Dull appearance. Mid depth with no real sign of ageing. Typical Rougeard nose, with its Australian-like oak and menthol profile. The flavour profile is 'organic'; very farmyard and tertiary. Taut, with good grip and focus. This is immediately impressive; open and seductive. Initially very clean and fresh on the finish, the wine did deteriorate quicker in the bottle than one would have expected. Flatteringly impressive, this is still youthful and will age further. (04/10)

FLIGHT TWO

THE BERRY
The corresponding flight from the 1989 vintage tasting was a revelation and the 1990s proved to be the same. There were some great wines here, but with one notable disappointment. 

1990 Pouilly-Fumé ‘Les Angelots’ J-M Masson-Blondelet  
Mid pale. Still retains a youthful green hue. This has barely evolved. The nose is lovely and fresh; delicate with distinct Sauvignon character and a sense of minerality which follows through to the palate. The flavour profile remains correctly 'green' although is slightly maritime, with a faint oyster shell character (cork?). The wine is well balanced with a persistent finish. This is still in very good condition for its age and there is no rush to drink. (04/10) 

1990 Pouilly-Fumé ‘Domaine des Rabichattes’ Albert Grebet  
Mid pale with green hints. Bright appearance. Clean nose but a bit dull and a touch dirty. Well balanced with good structure. Delicate with a good mineral thread. It just falls a bit short. (04/10)

1990 Pouilly-Fumé ‘Pur Sang’ Didier Dageneau  
Massively disappointing given the hype and reputation. Mid depth and showing some age. Oxidised and tired on the nose whilst the palate is clutching to life. Short and bitter on the finish and sadly dried out. A poor bottle...? (04/10)

1990 Sancerre ‘La Côte de Monts Damnés’ Henri Bourgeois  
Luminous. Mid depth, yellow-green appearance. Lovely broad and intense nose, showing some maturity, but complex floral and marzipan aromas. This is obviously a riper style, displaying exotic and tropical fruit flavours. Very clean and fresh on the palate with more of a greenish, vegetal profile. Builds well with excellent structure and balance. Persistent finish. Well focused and absolutely no rush to drink. Not in the same class as the 1989, but still very good. (04/10) 

1990 Sancerre ‘Chavignol - La Grande Côte’ François Cotat  
Luminous. Mid-depth, yellow-green. Intense, rich and explosive on the nose. Very complex. Intense on entry and builds well to a powerful, concentrated finish. There is clearly residual sugar here, but the wine is still very much in balance. The flavour spectrum is very broad. This is still on a plateau and there is no rush to drink. Qualitatively, it has the edge over the wine below. (04/10)

1990 Sancerre ‘Chavignol – Les Monts Damnés – Cuvée Spéciale’ François Cotat  
Cotat usually divides opinion and this wine was no different. The late harvest style was clearly obvious here, with noticeable residual sugar with one taster commenting that the wine was 'sweet and unresolved'. We know that Cotat's wines are capable of lasting decades, and this example is still growing into itself. Mid-full with green-yellow tinges. Restrained on the nose, but with a floral edge. The wine builds well on the palate with excellent balance and structure, despite the concerns over the level of ripeness and sweetness. This is classic Cotat and can be expected to age and evolve for another two decades. (04/10)

FLIGHT THREE

TOURAINE
A single wine flight, but the Azay was rustic and everything it should be. 

1990 Touraine - Azay-le-Rideau Sec, Domaine Pascal Pabileau  
Polished, deep yellow-gold. Appears mature - or botrytis affected. Mineral or rather oyster shell nose with some vegetal aromas behind. Dry on entry and mid-weight. Quite simple and monotone, but well balanced and some redeeming acidity to carry the finish. Proper old fashioned Chenin, but fast approaching its sell by date. (04/10)

FLIGHT FOUR  

SAVENNIÈRES 
There are some tasters who criticised the Baumard wines for their lack of individuality, but I appreciate them for their consistency and durability; the wines improving over a course of three days. With regards the wines of Nicholas Joly, this is surely the last great vintage produced at the domaine. 

1990 Clos de Coulaine  
Dull and mature in appearance. Light orange-gold. Floral nose, but just showing its age. White flowers and hints of marzipan. The palate is dull, broad and a bit monotone with flavours of dead yeast. This is not showing particularly well. Pithy to finish with some bitterness. Probably past its best. (04/09)

1990 'Clos du Papillon' Domaine du Closel
Deep appearance. Mid-full orange-bronze. Broad and ripe. Shows concentration. This is still very precise and expressive on the nose. Delicate and complex, restrained and refined. The style is still quite old fashioned and traditional. Gentle on entry. Well balanced. Attractive with good texture. Fresh and clean, with a nervous line of acidity running through the wine. Powerful to finish, with a characteristic pithy and phenolic edge. Authentic. Drinking now, but will keep and possibly still evolve further. This note is lifted from a retrospective tasting of Clos du Papillon from 1988 to 2007 at the domaine. (02/10) 

1990 ‘Clos du Papillon’ Domaine des Baumard  
Polished. Very pale with green hints. Typical of the Baumard style, this is tight, reductive and unevolved on the nose, with a faintly lactic element behind (even though there is no malo-lactic fermentation). Delicate and elegant with excellent focus. The wine builds well and has good grip. Very long and pithy finish. This is still drinking well and will hold. (04/10)

1990 ‘Trie Spéciale’ Domaine des Baumard  
Polished. Mid depth, yellow-green appearance. Quiet and delicate on the nose. Faintly floral. It's very restrained and shows no real sign of its age. The palate is much more open and serious with very good structure. It builds well and has good grip. Excellent focus. Mineral and pithy to the finish. This is still holding up well and still evolving. Very good. (04/10)

1990 Savennières-Roche-aux-Moines, Domaine aux Moines  
Bright. Mid depth, straw-yellow. Delicate nose with moving towards the 'greener' spectrum of aromas. Mineral, but also slightly grubby behind. Mid weight on entry but builds well, although the palate falls short with some dirty and earthy flavours. Nicely textured, if a little rustic. The wine is holding up and there is no real rush to drink, although it is unlikely to improve. (04/10)

1990 Savennières-Roche-aux-Moines 'Clos de la Bergerie', Château de la Roche aux Moines, Mme A Joly  
Polished, luminous appearance. Mid depth with green tinges. The nose is distinctly 'organic' and a little high toned. It is, however, attractive with some proper minerailty and sense of place. The palate is delicate and refined on entry. Excellent structure and poise. Taut to the finish. There is absolutely no rush to drink. (04/10) 

1990 Clos de la Coulée de Serrant, Mme A Joly  
Polished. Mid depth, staw-yellow-gold. Tight, mineral and very reserved on the nose. It appears backward and unevolved. The palate is still very youthful and still very fresh, displaying a great stony minerality. The wine is poised and focused with a very persistent and juicy acidity to the finish. This demonstrates the quality of its provenance. Still immature, this wine has a very long life ahead of it. (04/10)  

FLIGHT FIVE  

MONTLOUIS
The 1990s were a step up in quality over the 1989s with much greater consistency. The profile of the wines is still very different from the wines directly across the river, which is no bad thing, as the best examples retained poise and elegance and were not generally affected by the overripe character of some of the Vouvrays. The wine of Christian Martin impressed some of my fellow tasters and is worthy of a mention, but the best of the flight was the Deletang, which would be considered consistent with their reputation at the time. 

1990 Montlouis ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Berger Frères, Domaine des Liards  
Polished appearance with yellow-green hints. This is still very clean and vinous, although backward and not very expressive on the nose. The palate is clean, simple and a bit monotone. Stylistically, this is more a sec-tendre and is a little reductive - a common theme in the drier Touraine Chenin's from these two vintages. The acidity remains firm to the finish. Pithy and a little bitter and phenolic. Drink or hold, but unlikely to improve. (04/10)

1990 Montlouis Demi-Sec, François Chidaine  
Bright, yellow-gold. Dull and tired nose. Very old fashioned style. Mid-weight on entry and pretty crisp considering the vintage. The palate is better than the nose suggests. Pithy and nicely textured, but a bit monotone and simple with classic old fashioned 'bruised apple' Chenin character. Undistinguished. Drink up. (04/10)

1990 Montlouis ‘Les Lys’ François Chidaine  
Polished. Mid-pale, yellow-straw with green hints. Attractive nose of star-fruit and marzipan, although it is showing some maturity. Delicate and attractive on entry. Well textured and clean. This is mature, but in a positive sense. Very gentle in style. The finish is crisp and juicy ensuring the wine is not too sweet. Well balanced. Very good and although mature, should keep a few more years. (04/10)

1990 Montlouis Moëlleux, Yves Chidaine  
The father of François. Mid-pale, straw with green hints. The nose is still showing some sulphur which accounts for the reductive, struck-match aroma. Backward and showing some negative signs of maturity. The SO2 accounts for why the wine has maintained its pale appearance. The palate is better, but more demi-sec in style. A bit old fashioned and rustic, but with juicy acidity to the finish. Good structure and length. This is drinking now and is likely to over-mature before the reductive character blows off. The wine will age but never properly mature. (04/10)

1990 Montlouis Moëlleux, Christian Martin  
Polished. Mid pale with green hints. Clean, but quite neural nose with some terpine character. Dry on entry and not an obvious moelleux. Clean, but quite simple in style. Well balanced and gentle; honest and unpretentious. Drink or hold. (04/10)

1990 Montlouis Berger Freres Domaine des Liards Vendanges Tardives  
This bottle was unfortunately corked, but it was still possible to taste through the taint. Polished. Youthful mid-pale with green hints. This is distinctly 'dry' and taut for the style. The wine displays a good stony minerality, but falls a little short. This is drinking well now and will hold for a few more years. (04/10)

1990 Montlouis Moëlleux ‘Les Batisses’ Deletang  
Polished. Pale, yellow-green. A little bit closed and still somewhat reductive. Floral with some white flowers and marzipan. Builds well and shows its class among the rest in this flight. Well focused with very good balance. Juicy and well poised. This is still very young and fresh and will continue to evolve. (04/10)

FLIGHT SIX  

VOUVRAY – VARIOUS
There was very little duplication in growers between the 1989 and 1990 tastings making this a difficult flight to compare, but the 1990s were certainly more consistent, throwing up one or two pleasant surprises. 

1990 Bourillon-Dorléans Moëlleux ‘Sainsburys’  
 Polished, pale green and unevolved in its appearance. Restrained and old fashioned Chenin nose that doesn't give much away. This is mature but certainly not tired. Mid-weight on entry and builds well to a relatively powerful finish. This is a drier expression of moelleux. The palate is a bit pithy and phenolic on the finish, but this is still credible and there is no immediate rush to drink.  Interestingly, the back label recommends that the drinker should 'Consume within 4 years of purchase'... (04/10)

1990 Domaine Jean-Claude Pichot Moëlleux ‘Sainsburys’  
Pale, green-yellow appearance. Attractive nose that is faintly exotic, with aromas of honeycomb and quince. Lovely on entry; well focused with excellent palate weight and proper balance. Juicy acidity which makes the wine appear drier than what it is.  The acid profile will ensure that this wine will continue to hold and even evolve further, although I doubt there is any still in existence; Sainsbury's recommended that this be consumed 'within two years of purchase'. A really pleasant surprise. (04/10)

1990 Château Moncontour Moëlleux  
Polished, pale yellow-green. Notes of white flowers and marzipan to the nose which suggest some negative signs of maturity. The palate is nicely textured and builds well to a powerful finish, but this does show some alcoholic burn and is also a bit pithy and bitter on the finish. This is still holding up, but is not particularly distinguished. (04/10)

1990 Domaine Champalou ‘Cuvée Champalou’  
Bright, deep orange-bronze. Attractive nose that is obviously (along with the colour) derived from botrytis. It's complex and classical with notes of honeycomb, oranges and baked apple. The palate is lovely; lush, with a lovely racy acidity to help balance out the sugar. It also has great texture. Falvours include quince and orange confit. There is no rush to drink this, although it is unlikely to improve. Very good. (04/10)

1990 Château Gaudrelle ‘Réserve Spéciale’  
Polished appearance. Deep orange, indicating botrytis. Broad, ripe and attractive. The nose appears a little flat initially on the nose, with notes of burnt caramel and toffee. This is gentle with a delicate texture. The flavour of caramel follows through onto the palate. Lush, pretty and flattering. There is no immediate rush to drink this. Very good. (04/10)

1990 Domaine Brisbarre ‘Grande Réserve’ Moëlleux  
Polished, mid depth, yellow-green. The nose is clean but a little neutral and not very expressive, with the faint whiff of marzipan indicating some over maturity. the palate is better and more open. Well textured with good balance, it remains fresh and clean. Linear acidity, but falls just a bit short and lacks real interest. It's a bit monotone, but overall good and should age further, if not necessarily improve. (04/10)

FLIGHT SEVEN  

VOUVRAY – CLOS BAUDOIN - PRINCE PONIATOWSKI
'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. 

As with the 1989s, the 1990s lack the precision and sheer quality of the likes of Huet, Foreau and Bernard Fouquet. Some tasters found them too sweet, caramelised and a bit too soft with excessive alcohol burn. 

1990 Domaine Baudoin ‘Aigle Blanc’ Moëlleux  
Polished. Mid depth yellow. The nose is a bit dull and earthy, the palate equally monotone with some spent match reduction. Mid weight, but falls a bit short. Ordinary yet authentic. Drink up. (04/10)

1990 Domaine Baudoin Moëlleux  
Polished. Mid depth, yellow-gold. Clean, but a little reductive, with notes of baked apples and a spent match. The palate is better and more flattering with a juicy acidity to help balance the sweetness and making the wine appear quite dry. Well focused and proper, if a little old fashioned. This is decent and holding up well. No rush to drink. (04/10)

FLIGHT EIGHT  

VOUVRAY – BERNARD FOUQUET – DOMAINE DES AUBUSIÈRES 
Fouquet managed to produce five different sweet wine cuvées this vintage, all becoming more 
concentrated as one tasted through the flight. This was clearly a very fine year for Bernard and 
his wines are at least of the same quality of Huet and Foreau. Some would claim better. 

1990 Sec  
Polished. Pale yellow-straw. Dull, reductive and rubbery nose with distinct oyster shell flavours on the palate. There is also some bitterness on the finish. Poor. (04/10)

1990 Moëlleux ‘Grande Année’  
Sadly corked.

1990 Moëlleux ‘Trie Grains Nobles’ 
Described by Michael Broadbent in 1995 as 'Perfection'. Polished. Very deep and obviously botytised appearance. Orange-gold. Floral aroma with notes of clove. Rich and concentrated on entry, if displaying a little 'old fashioned' Chenin character. Highly botrytised, but with very good balancing acidity. Quite high toned and a little bit volatile, but still taut and showing a surprising degree of minerality. Very good focus and still very fresh. It will hold but probably not improve further. (04/10) 

1990 Moëlleux ‘Sélection Grains Nobles’  
Polished. Very deep orange-gold and obviously botrytised, but with very good graduation in colour to the rim. Richly concentrated nose that is highly botyrtised and complex. Smoky, with even the impression of some oak. This is lovely on entry and on a different level to the Trie Grains Nobles, above. Lovely nervous and racy acidity that is slightly volatile, but which helps to add overall complexity to the wine. This is still youthful and there is absolutely no rush to drink. (04/10)

1990 Moëlleux ‘Le Marigny – Trie des Grains Nobles’  
Bright. Very deep copper-bronze. Broad, profound on the nose and hugely concentrated. Rich and unctuous on entry, but bound together by a lovely thread of acidity. Great structure and shows real finesse. Exotic flavours, with caramel and toffee. No rush to drink. (04/10)

1990 Moëlleux ‘Cuvee Alexandre - Sélection Grains Nobles’  
Deep orange-bronze. Polished. Attractive nose of oranges and quince. Confit and complex whilst restrained and elegant. The palate is highly textured. Unctuous and verging on being too rich, but is aided by the balancing acidity. Powerful, but still shows finesse. There is a gentle quality to this, with racy acidity to the finish. There is an impression of oak running through the palate. Excellent. Will age further. (04/10)

FLIGHT NINE

VOUVRAY – PHILIPPE FOREAU
Even Noël Pinguet (who was present at the 1990 tasting) concedes that Philippe Foreau made better wine in 1990 than Huet. Stylistically, they are certainly different to Huet, retaining the classic freshness and acidity that is the hallmark of Foreau, even in a year like 1990. 

1990 Demi-Sec  
Polished. Mid-depth yellow-gold. Classic old fashioned Chenin nose of cloves and wet wool. The wine is a little earthy and grubby. It's certainly less successful. Dry on entry; taut and mineral to the palate. A classic demi-sec, but one fears a token effort for what is fundamentally a sweet wine vintage. Ordinary. (04/10)

1990 Moëlleux 
Polished. Deep, mid-depth orange-gold. A bit rustic and old fashioned, but with aromas of baked spiced apple and quince. Delicate on entry with racy acidity; the wine lifts to a second level with excellent focus and acidity. Powerful, but balanced and elegant. Excellent poise and persistence. This will continue to hold. Only 9.5% alcohol. (04/10)

1990 Moëlleux Réserve  
Bright, deep copper-bronze. Rich, barley-sugar nose, with complex toffee, caramel and smoky aromas. Clearly, this is very heavily botrytised. Lovely texture on entry. High toned, but very fine and elegant. The racy acidity cuts through to the persistent finish. Tropical and exotic with an impression of oak (although this is derived more from the flavour profile than any use of wood). Excellent. This will continue to hold and even develop. (04/10)

1990 Goutte d’Or  
Polished. Dark orange-bronze. Broad nose of toffee apple and caramel. It appears a little monotone such is its richness. The palate is lovely; very clean and fresh, intense but retains elegance. The flavours are exotic, but with hints of orange confit. Complex, racy and juicy acidity, with excellent poise and balance. This is a great wine, but it should be noted that this bottle appears less evolved than other examples tasted over the past decade or so. (04/10)

FLIGHT TEN

VOUVRAY - DOMAINE HUET
Neither before or since has Noël seen such an expression of noble rot in the vines at Huet. All the 1ere Trie wines are 100% botrytis affected and as a result there was no Cuvee Constance produced this year; being little or no distinction between the style and quality of these three wines. As with 1989, a nominal sec exists, and the yields for the two vintages are also comparable.

Whilst the 1989s are still youthful in both appearance and their evolution, the 1990s have developed much quicker, the heavy botrytis character ensuring that the wines have taken on a deep appearance.

For Noël (and me) the 1989 is the better year. Whilst the 1990s are hedonistic, they are probably at their peak, although their plateau of drinkability will be a long and very enjoyable one. Here, lessons can be learnt from the great 1947 vintage, where the appearance is also profound, although the wines have never shown any sign of falling apart.

It should also be noted that 1990 vintage is significant for the domaine’s succession as a certified producer of biodynamic wines.  

1990 Le Haut-Lieu Sec  
Sadly corked. (04/10)

1990 Le Haut Lieu Moëlleux
Mid depth. Straw yellow. Pale to rim. Slightly honeyed with obvious richness and concentration. Delicate and gentle, if a little rustic. Easy and approachable now. Distinct bruised apple flavours. Good length although a little clumsy. Drinking well now, but will continue to hold and even evolve. (04/10)

1990 Le Haut Lieu Moëlleux 1ere Trie                                          
100% botrytis. Polished appearance. Deep orange/amber with a pale green rim. More evolved than the others from this vintage. Coconut, oranges and apricots backed up with honey. Botrytis shows behind. A hint of Volatility helps to lift the wine. Lighter and currently more balanced that Le Clos du Bourg. Crunchy acidity and very fresh and clean. Lovely texture and acid balance. Very precocious and flattering. Drinking now, but unlikely to evolve further. (04/10)

1990 Le Mont Moëlleux 1ere Trie                                                   
100% botrytis. Polished. Mid depth. Has the greatest graduation of this trio. Orange/amber. Still very backward, but appears the most refined of the trio on the nose. Honey/honeycomb, apricots and spice. Very delicate. Broad on entry and a touch clumsy at present, lacking the acidity (or at least the acid is currently disparate) of the other two. Dry to the finish. My previous note (in 2004) states 'Still very reserved and needs more time', but on this tasting it was the most expressive of the trio of 1ere Tries. Drinking now and will hold, if not necessarily improve.
(04/10)

1990 Le Clos du Bourg Moëlleux 1ere Trie                                   
100% botrytis.
Polished. Very deep. Orange/amber/bronze. Closed nose. Some tea-like character, but currently very closed, although the botrytis is evident. The palate is more expressive with a lovely thread of high toned acidity running through the wine. Powerful, with very firm, crunchy acidity. Builds well in the mouth and is still very fresh with more to give. Very powerful. Ultimately the best of this trio. With the firm acidity, it is possibly another 1971 or even 1947 in the making. For some tasters, the best single wine of the 1990 tasting. (04/10)  

FLIGHT ELEVEN  

ANJOU-SAUMUR
This flight consisted of some pleasantly simple wines displaying more rusticity than finesse.  

1990 Anjou Moëlleux ‘Vendanges Manuelle’ Domaine des Trahan, Cersey  
Polished. Very deep yellow-gold with hints of green. The nose is mature, but also a bit grubby and even now showing signs of residual sulphur. Builds well on the palate, but the impression is sweet and sour; unknit and monotone. It lacks any real interest and is a touch rustic. The acidity shows through on the finish. Powerful but clumsy. Will hold but not improve. (04/10)

1990 Anjou-Coteaux de la Loire ‘Vieille Sève’ Domaine de Fresche  
Polished. Very youthful pale green. The wine is slightly corked, which is a shame as it still appears very fresh on the palate. (04/10)

1990 Coteaux du Saumur, Jean-Claude Bourdin  
Polished. Deep orange-bronze. Typical nose of bruised apple. Gentle on the nose with some aromas of marzipan, indicating some over maturity. Smoky-botrytis. Delicate on entry and shows great freshness, with lovely bright, focused acidity. Taut and still very fresh. This still has a long life ahead of it. (04/10)

1990 Coteaux du Saumur ‘Domaine de la Petite Chapelle’ Dézé 
Polished. Mid-depth straw-yellow with hints of green. Quite dull and simple on the nose. One dimensional. The acidity kicks in on the finish. Unknit and clumsy. The acidity will help to preserve this, but for no real benefit. (04/10) 

FLIGHT TWELVE 

COTEAUX DU LAYON, QUARTS DE CHAUME AND BONNEZEAUX
Like with the 1989 tasting, this proved to be the most disappointing flight overall 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 wine showed true to their house style, being very youthful and barely evolved. Again i
t 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 and it has to be said that Bonnezeaux as an appellation was, like the 1989 tasting, the least impressive flight of all, bringing into question its reputation as a stand alone appellation during this period.  

COTEAUX DU LAYON 

1990 Coteaux du Layon ‘1ere Trie’ Domaine des Petits Quarts, Godineau  
Polished. Mid-full orange-bronze. Delicate and attractive nose. Gentle, elegant and well focused palate that is holding up well. A bit dull and ordinary, but will continue to hold. (04/10)

1990 Coteaux du Layon, Domaine du Petit Metris, Joseph Renou  
Polished. Mid-full orange-yellow. Very attractive appearance. Rich and unctuous and clearly botrytised on both nose and palate. Broad, big and powerful, although the alcohol also shows. There is some evidence of oak ageing and that this is starting to dry the wine out. Best drink up. (04/10)

1990 Coteaux du Layon ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Chateau de Breuil  
Luminous orange-gold with a viscous texture. Reserved nose that is delicate, attractive and not obviously sweet. Faintly more vegetal on the nose. Lush and attractive with very good balance and freshness. Builds well to a juicy and creamy persistent finish. Very good and should continue to hold. (04/10)

1990 Coteaux du Layon Faye-d’Anjou, Domaine des Saulaies, Philippe Leblanc  
Polished. Mid-depth green-straw appearance. The nose is badly affected by reduced sulphur - which helps explain the barely evolved appearance and palate. Dull and ordinary. (04/10)

1990 Coteaux du Layon Saint-Aubin, Domaine Roche Moreau, A. Davy  
Polished. Mid depth with distinct green tints. Floral and old fashioned, wet wool and oyster shell nose. The palate retains firm acidity on the finish. This is drier style and holding up well, but very simple and undistinguished. (04/10)

COTEAUX DU LAYON-CHAUME AND QUARTS DE CHAUME 

1990 Coteaux du Layon-Chaume ‘Les Charmelles’ Château de Plaisance  
Polished. Mid-depth. Yellow-gold. Broad and delicate. Attractive nose of coconut with the complexity of a green Chartreuse. Builds nicely with good texture and racy acidity. The alcohol shows a little and the wine becomes clumsy on the finish. Decent and no rush to drink. (04/10)

1990 Coteaux du Layon-Chaume ‘Les Aunis’ Château de la Roulerie, D. Jaudeau  
Dull appearance. Mid-full orange-bronze. Dull nose and a bit grubby (cork taint?). Bruised apple. The palate is similar; a bit grubby and earthy. Nicely textured with decent weight and focus. Will hold and there is no rush to drink, but this is relatively undistinguished. (04/10)

1990 Coteaux du Layon-Chaume ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Château de la Guimonière 
Polished. Mid-pale straw appearance with hints of green. Clean but tight on the nose. Not very expressive. Gentle on entry and nicely textured. Very clean and fresh on the palate with good length. The acidity carries the wine a little. Drinking well now and should hold. (04/10)

1990 Coteaux du Layon-Chaume ‘Cuvée Privilege’ Domaine Banchereau  
Dull and bitty. Mid-depth orange-bronze. Very rich with a highly botrytis affected nose. Lush on entry with excellent fresh acidity. Concentrated and deeply complex. The flavour profile suggests oranges; both peel and flesh, with honey and quince. Very powerful. This is more advanced than the 1989 equivalent, but is still excellent and there is no rush to drink. (04/10)

1990 Quarts de Chaume, Domaine des Baumard  
Polished. Mid-depth straw-yellow. Tight and somewhat unevolved. Delicate with good focus and balance. Gentle and nicely textured. This is still in its adolescence and will continue to age further. (04/10)

1990 Quarts de Chaume, Domaine du Petit Metris, Joseph Renou  
Polished. Mid-full gold. Attractive nose: broad, with obvious botrytis. Complex, with notes of honeycomb and quince. Delicate and lovely on entry. Great texture, balance and freshness. It builds well to a powerful, concentrated and persistent finish. Excellent and no rush to drink. (04/10)

BONNEZEAUX 

1990 Bonnezeaux, Domaine de Terrebrune  
Bright. Mid-depth yellow-straw. Dull, earthy and bit grubby. Old fashioned, mid-weight and one dimensional. Earthy and grubby on the palate, the acidity kicks in on the finish. Hot, clumsy and falls short. Disappointing. (04/10)

1990 Bonnezeaux ‘Trie de Vendange’ Domaine Terrebrune  
Bright. Mid-depth yellow-gold. Dull, clumsy and ordinary nose. Simple and one dimensional. Flat with no real structure. Falls short. (04/10)

1990 Bonnezeaux ‘Trie Spéciale’ Domaine Terrebrune  
Bright. Deeper appearance. Delicate. Light and more vegetal on the nose. Mid-weight with better balance, but pithy and bitter to the finish. This is the best of the Terrebrune trio, but certainly not distinguished. (04/10)

1990 Bonnezeaux ‘Malabé’ Godineau Domaine des Petits Quarts, Godineau  
Polished. Deep orange-bronze. Attractive appearance. The nose shows honeycomb and bruised or baked or even toffee apple. Builds nicely on the palate and is well structured. Chalky textured. The alcohol shows a little on the finish. Holding up. (04/10)

1990 Bonnezeaux ‘Élevé en fût de Chêne’ Domaine des Petits Quarts, Godineau  
Raised in second hand barrel from d'Yquem. Bright. Deep yellow-gold. The nose is dominated by oak. There is very little subtlety here. Concentrated and powerful. Chalky textured, any real character is lost behind the wood. Whilst this was flattering within a couple of years of the vintage, the wood is now starting to dry this out. Drink up. (04/10)

1990 Bonnezeaux ‘La Chapelle’ Château de Fesles, Gaston Lenotre/Jacques Boivin  
Dull appearance. Mid-full orange-bronze. Clean but dull on the nose and not showing much 
character. Clean, but monotone and one dimensional. The alcohol shows too. Dull, earthy and 
ordinary. On this showing, the property fails to live up to its reputation. Drink up. (04/10)

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Bibliography:

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)