2012 Domaine Tinel Blondelet Pouilly Fumé L'Arret Buffatte
 
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Annick Tinel Blondelet July 4th, 2014: You Could Hear a Pin Drop in Sancerre

On July 4th, you could hear a pin drop on the typically bustling square of Sancerre. France had fallen behind in the 13th minute to Germany's juggernaut. By the 11th minute of the second half, the small crowd at L'Ecurie could see the writing on the wall. For most, it was time to order another bottle of blanc.

For us, it was time to go back to work.

At the bottom of town, we took the second turn off the roundabout, and jumped on the D2. We knew that winding road all too well, having first made the trip from Sancerre to Pouilly-sur-Loire in the mid-'80s to visit our new friend, a young Didier Dagueneau.

Didier was many things: brilliant, irascible, opinionated, and stubborn. But when it came to providing a couple young importers with a rapid-fire education on the most electrifying Sauvignon Blancs in the world, Dagueneau had no match.

On dozens of warm summer evenings in Saint-Andelain, we tasted hundreds of Sancerres and Pouilly-Fumés, drawn off a dizzying variety of hillside exposures and soil types. While still in our late 20s, we learned more about the whites of the Loire Valley than most importers would learn in their careers. "Sancerre," Dagueneau would say, "is all about limestone. There are 7,500 parcels farmed by 300 winegrowers, but only the calcaire-rich slopes of Bué, Amigny, Chavignol and Verdigny make for great Sancerre."

"But here in Pouilly-sur-Loire and Saint-Andelain, the soils are more diverse. There's some limestone, but really very little. Then there's flint (as was championed by Dagueneau's richly textured, ethereal Silex) and marl." The secret to making great Sauvignon Blanc on this side of the valley had much to do with how each winegrower handled his vines in each growing season — depending on exposition and soil type.

At last count, since 1985 we've visited Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire 23 times. Thanks to Didier Dagueneau's early direction, we're now able to extrapolate the style and quality of the wines of dozens of cellars based only on the intricacies of a growing season. It was that intuition that drew us to the diminutive Annick Tinel-Blondelet's door as the clock ran out on Les Bleus.

Annick Tinel-Blondelet is all of 5'3". The vigneronne is well known throughout the region for both her quiet demeanor and indefatigable work ethic in the vines. With a small vineyard crew, Annick hand-tends 35 parcels that comprise barely 15 hectares of vineyards, among which are some of the most precious hillsides in Pouilly-Sur-Loire. A student of terroir, Annick vinifies the Sauvignon Blanc of each soil type separately. Over the course of two hours, we'd taste a dizzying lineup of richly textured, mineral whites. Some were drawn from soils strewn with chunks of limestone or calcaire. Some from flint or silex. But the Pouilly-Fumé that has been the talk of Sancerre since it was bottled in the summer of 2013 would be the absolutely stunning L'Arret Buffatte drawn from the oyster-shell marl adjacent to Le Nozet.

Tinel-Blondelet's marl-based vineyards make for richer, rounder, softer, more voluptuous Pouilly-Fumé. As a result, in low-acid vintages (like 2011), L'Arret Buffatte took a back seat to Dagueneau's Silex. But in a 2012 campaign that combined luscious apple-pear ripeness, coupled with high-wire acidity, Annick's most revered cuvée stole the afternoon thunder.

The 2012 Tinel-Blondelet Pouilly-Fumé L'Arret Buffatte is pale green-gold to the rim, infused with mouthwatering aromas of apricot, pear, and anise. Rich and densely textured, filled with a luscious mix of ripe apple, peach pit, and licorice, laced with wet stone and quince. Despite the marvelous opulence of the great 2012 vintage, the finish remains vibrant and refreshing, arguing elegantly for a 5- to 8-year stay in the coolest of cellars.



Tasting Notes

2012 Domaine Tinel Blondelet Pouilly Fumé L'Arret Buffatte
"The 2012 Tinel-Blondelet Pouilly-Fumé L'Arret Buffatte is pale green-gold to the rim, infused with mouthwatering aromas of apricot, pear, and anise. Rich and densely textured, filled with a luscious mix of ripe apple, peach pit, and licorice, laced with wet stone and quince. Despite the marvelous opulence of the great 2012 vintage, the finish remains vibrant and refreshing, arguing elegantly for a 5- to 8-year stay in the coolest of cellars."
-- WineAccess Travel Log, July 4, 2014, Pouilly-sur-Loire

 

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