We are staying in the Loire with a focus on red this time. For a long time I only really cared about the great white Loire chenin blanc wines as I never managed to find a red wine based on cabernet franc, probably the most well-known red grape variety in the region, that I really liked. I find it a difficult variety as the grapes often do not attain optimal ripeness, resulting in vegetal aromas and a slightly bitter taste in the mouth. One of the appealing qualities of cabernet franc is that it is a good transmitter of its origin, its terroir. Bourgeuil for instance is dominated by a combination of clay and chalk, resulting in wines that are driven more on structure instead of openness and lightness. Saumur is similar but here we also have the presence of tuffeau, a variation of limestone providing a more mineral character resulting in lighter wines with still sufficient depth.
The wine discussed today comes from Saumur, the easternmost part of Anjou. Sebastien Bobinet started making wine about ten years ago after inheriting a couple of acres from his grandfather. He is a proponent of natural winemaking and this shows well in the open character of his wines. As said, I often find cabernet franc-based wines dense but not those created by Sebastien. Hanami 2012 is partially fermented in the traditional way and partially via carbonic fermentation. The latter is a technique often used in Beaujolais as well where unpressed grape clusters are sealed in a tank. The weight of the grapes on top will crush the ones below, releasing carbon dioxide kickstarting the fermentation process inside the berries. This way you will avoid the extraction of tannins present in the skin, creating a sense of lightness but more importantly, fruitiness.
The wine is quite reductive after opening, a side effect of trying to create a wine in an environment devoid of oxygen in order to avoid oxidation, something you would normally counter by adding sulphur. Give it some time in the glass and it starts showing itself, freshness, fruit and little red berries coming up but nothing too strong, nothing that stands out. The sensation of freshness continues in the mouth but is supported by a finely grained structure but still retaining its juiciness. You get a slightly earthly sense towards the finish, which may also be due to the initial reduction but this is a wine clearly driven by fruit. I have been drinking this vintage of the past year and you do get some sense of evolution with the fruit being more integrated in the structure so there is no use in waiting, simply enjoy it now!
Other Loire wines talked about: