Saumur-Champigny “Vieilles Vignes” 1990 – René-Noël Legrand
– Alc.13% - (€15)
I managed to get a number of bottles of older vintages from Legrand from his private stock because he is unable to resist pleasing real wine-lovers. Legrand is a very retiring vigneron who does not even exhibit at the Anger wine fair and makes his living (modest I suspect; it would not surprise me if his wife’s income as a nurse were larger than his) from faithful private customers like me, from occasional (low priced) larger volume sales of (excellent) basic cuvées to Cora supermarket and from a few shrewd French cavistes. He does not appear on any radar screens in the English speaking world, except for one Californian importer, and even a connoisseur with encyclopaedic knowledge of the region like Jim Budd http://jimsloire.blogspot.com/
does not seem particularly aware of him. This may be due to the fact that Legrand’s wines, though full of character and structure, can seem rustic and unflattering when young but many in my cellar have aged beautifully. Here is an example.
C: Still quite deep red with hardly any bricking at the rim.
N: Unmistakably Legrand from its mixture of raspberry, clayey earth and sweaty saddle, all in perfect balance. (At this point the squeaky clean brigade, particularly Antipodeans, might cry out “brett”. What a shame if influences like that were to deprive us of this extra dimension in Loire CabFranc. Already people like Yannick Amirault and Jacques Genet, the new commercial manager at Joguet, are trying to squeeze out “animal” flavours.)
P: Not a “wow” wine and no more than medium bodied but beautifully harmonious and elegant with roundness and depth, still present fruit sweeter than in most years, gentle minerals and leafiness and aromas similar to but perhaps more intense in retro-olfaction than on the nose and a gently structured crescendo towards the finish followed by a deliciously fragrant after-taste. The best compliment I can pay is that I would have opened another bottle if it had not been my last (I hope that he will let me have more). Much less pretentious and, in elegance and fragrance, at least equal, in my book, to many Médoc 3ème crus; 17.5/20+.