2004 Jean-Francois Merieau "Alliance des Generations" Touraine Rouge (some stained labels) (Previously $22)
This is the current release of Alliance, from 30- to 50-year-old vines on clay and limestone soils with an average yield of 35hl/ha. It is made the old-fashioned way: de-steamed, crushed by foot (foulage), with punching of the cap (pigeage). It goes in tank for eight months before being aged in neutral barrels for 18 to 24 month and finally in bottle for at least a year. This cuvee represents the style of wine Jean-Francois drank during "hunting season" growing up. Rich and powerful aromatics bounce out of the glass. Bigger tannins envelope an elegant fruit structure that could use still a little air to open up since there's a lot underneath the fruit. A darker and meatier style of Loire Red that is a perfect match for lamb or beef dishes or, of course, game birds and rabbit. 89 points Wine Advocate: "...demonstrates both the aging potential and the distinctiveness of which Merieau’s wines are capable. It evinces an unusually nose-wrinkling smokiness in the nose, along with suggestions of poached purple plums and their pits; soy; smoked almonds; and mocha. Still juicily fresh on the palate, with hints of dark fruits overshadowed by toasted – indeed, singed – pecan and almond as well as by browned butter, malt, and espresso-roasted coffee beans, this is substantial in feel yet buoyant and only 12% in alcohol; creamy; and finishes long on mulberry and dark cherry, but still dominated by nutty, smoky and torrifactive elements. I urge readers to taste this..."