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2nd September 2014

Saumur and Sinead - Langlois-Chateau Saumur Champigny and some new music

I do really like Loire Cabernet Franc wines. There’s just something about the freshness and lightness (especially of alcohol) that makes black grapes grown in cooler climes produce delicious wines.

Langlois-Chateau Saumur Champigny Vieilles Vignes Cabernet Franc 2011

Cabernet Franc – one of the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon – is able to ripen fully in the prestigious areas for red wine production in the Loire: Bourgeuil, St Nicholas de Bourgeuil and Saumur Champigny. So, the grapes get ripe with an elegance of fruit and a fresh, leafy touch. It is dangerously easy to get all this wrong, and to hide behind the appealing leafiness a mass of harsh sawn green tannins. It is worth, therefore, spending up a little.


The vineyards of Saumur Champigny, are named after the exquisite medieval city of Saumur with its massive hulk of a castle hanging over it like Vogon spaceship in a Douglas Adams novel. If it weren’t for the fact that its stone is white it would be quite intimidating. As it is, they’ve spent much of the last umpteen years stopping the whole thing from sliding down into the river. But the scaffolding is all down now, and the place looks fantastic. Underneath all this is a network of caves and tunnels carved into the chalk soil (maybe the cause of the subsidence!) Here are grown some of France’s best mushrooms, which gives the region the second part of its name. The Cabernet Franc grapes prefer the patches where the topsoil is sand. Elsewhere they grow Chenin Blanc, the Loire’s celebrated white grape, much of which gets made sparkling.

Langlois-Chateau (no circumflex because it is named after a person called Chateau rather than Saumur's, or any other, castle) is one of the better producers of the region, famous for their sparkling Crémant wines. But this red, from genuinely vieilles vignes (old vines) is also delicious with flavours of raspberry, cassis, earth, bitter chocolate and roses. It has seen oak which has softened the tannins, and the wine finishes with a fresh chalky finish. It benefited from being slightly chilled, so I wrapped an ice-sleeve around it. When I went to pour myself another glass, two episodes of House of Cards later, I discovered the bottle was empty.
Now, drinking a whole bottle of wine is Not A Good Thing (obviously), but to be able to do so without noticing is a testament to a very well made wine indeed. Delicious.


Also this week arrived the new album by Sinead O’Connor. I really love her voice which seems constantly to be straining against its own power and yet with a silky beauty and with just the right amount of her very alluring Irish accent.

I’m not Bossy, I’m the Boss

I really think that The Lion and the Cobra would rate as one of my favourite all time albums, and I do not want what I have not got and Universal Mother are splendid too. But I had rather lost touch with her music of late. This record got quite a lot of PR and I think it deserved to. In interviews, she comes across as a bit nutty and more confrontational, but I reckon there’s a soft centre in there somewhere and both sides come across in her clever and interesting lyrics. It’s more mainstream and melodic – straightforward 3½ minute songs - but they’re really strong, and her voice is just as glassy as it ever has been.

I’m lucky enough to have tickets to see Kate Bush in a couple of weeks time, and this record has been a nice counterpoint to the inevitable bushathon that has been going on in the flat and on the ipod of late.



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