Vignobles Alain Château, Château Belle-Rive (2005)  

This property was bought from Serge and Michèle Malinge by Alain Château, a paper merchant from the Touraine, in 2005. The Malinge family had been here for a decade, having purchased the Château themselves from the legendary Jacques Lalanne in the mid 1990s. Apart from buying 12 hectares here, which include holdings in the Quarts de Chaume, Château also bought Château de la Guimonière in Rochefort-sur-Loire and Château Yon-Figeac in Saint-Emilion from Bernard Germain. He also took on the lease of the seven hectare clos of Château Varennes in Savennières when Germain vacated it in 2004. Château struck an agreement with Germain that the wines from the Clos de Varennes would continue to be made at Château de Fesles in Bonnezeaux until the 2008 vintage.

Wine Overview:  
All vintages of Château de Varennes between 1996 and 2007 have been made by Gilles Bigot, mâitre de chai at Château de Fesles, with the 2003 and 2004 vintages being sold under the names of both Bernard Germain and Alain Château, although they are the same wine. The vinification has changed little over the past decade, with the wine spending 12 months in oak before bottling.

The Wines:  
The wines show very good consistency from year to year and are made in a modern style. Outside of the 2003 which does show the character of the year, the wines just lack a sense of vintage variation. I also often pick up a dustiness on the wines which leaves me wondering about the quality of the closures used. It will be interesting to see what stylistic changes, if any, come after the 2008 vintage.

2007 Château de Varennes
Clean but closed and quite neutral on both nose and palate. Well made and authentic but a bit one dimensional. Characteristic pithy-bitter finish. (02/11) 

2006 Château de Varennes  
Bright. Mid depth. Straw. Honeyed with some herbal and green fig with some slightly rustic Chenin notes to the nose. Rich and powerful on entry and peaks quite early on the palate. Very dry (2g/l rs) but has good richness on the mid palate. Stony, mineral finish. The palate is less rustic with good length, although still quite closed. Faintly exotic with some passion fruit. Fresh acidity to finish. This shows some good potential to age. No malolactic fermentation. 25,000 bottles produced. (02/08)

2005 Château de Varennes  
Polished appearance. Deep yellow/straw. Quite tight and restrained, but shows good minerality. There is a faint dusty character behind. Mid weight entry. Well balanced. A delicate style. More stony and mineral. Builds well to a rich finish. Some honey showing. Taut, youthful and restrained and quite an elegant style. The wood is well integrated. Honeycomb finish. This should evolve well. 20,000 bottles produced. (02/08)

2004 Château de Varennes  
Polished. Yellow/gold. Deep appearance. Initially quiet on the nose and not very expressive, although develops some exotic notes in the glass. Mineral and stony and slightly dusty. Clean and approachable on the palate, although quite simple. Well textured, but showing a little more evolution than one would expect at this age. Honeyed. Builds well to a more solid finish, although remains restrained. Good acidity with a slightly drier finish. Drinking now, but could be expected to age a little longer. (02/08)

2003 Château de Varennes  
Polished. Mid full. Yellow/gold appearance with some green hints. A richer nose as one would expect of the vintage. A riper style with the wood still prominent. Mid weight, but neither hot nor confit on the palate. This builds well to a rich and ripe finish. Silky textured. The acidity is just a little lacking and one senses the heat of the vintage on the finish. This is a softer style for drinking now. It is unlikely to develop further, but should hold a few more years.  (02/08)
Chateau Bellerive  
T: +33 2 41 78 33 66  
F: +33 2 41 78 68 47


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