1969 Caves des Liards Montlouis Demi-Sec


I won’t beat around the bush: I know bugger-all about the Loire appellation of Montlouis-sur-Loire except that it lies opposite far more famous Vouvray. The two appellations share the same grape variety, Chenin Blanc, and both offer a range of styles, from sparkling to dry to sweet. The major difference is that while Vouvray is known internationally, Montlouis-sur-Loire enjoys more local renown. François Chidaine is the only grower that I have some experience with; otherwise, this appellation has flown below my vinous radar. Consequently, when I came across a half-century-old Montlouis from Caves des Liards at importer Yapp Brothers’ recent tasting, I didn’t know what to expect. To my pleasant surprise, I found a delicious wine that has aged as well as the top Vouvrays I have encountered. Received wisdom is to drink these wines young, but this tasting proved that good vintages can reward cellaring. The 1969 Montlouis Demi-Sec, which came directly from the domaine’s cellar, has a slightly burnished hue, but appears youthful considering its age. The nose is remarkably fresh, offering scents of butterscotch, almond, dried honey and linseed oil, still vibrant and compelling after 50 years. The palate is medium-bodied with a waxy-textured opening, underpinned by a killer line of acidity, and offers attractive notes of mandarin, elderflower, mango and a hint of white pepper. This is a beautiful Demi-Sec that has not lost the spring in its step. (Michel and Laurent Berger currently run the 16-hectare domaine under the name Domaine des Liards [Berger Frères], and their recent releases are certainly worth seeking out.) 91/Drink 2019-2029.