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Chris Kissack
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Attended Douglas High School
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Chris Kissack

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The windmills of Anjou deserve a thesis of their own, and in fact I am sure such theses have already been written, perhaps many times over. At one time there were 1,200 such mills dotted around the region; today only 200-or-so remain, many of them mere ruins, sorry shadows of their former selves. Exactly such a windmill towers above Domaine de Montgilet; all that now remains is a stone tower, situated atop a stone-built cave within which millers would once have ground their wheat. A century or more ago there would have also been a rotating wooden section - looking rather like a tiny house - sitting atop the tower, to which the sails were attached. With many years of disuse this part usually succumbs to rot, leaving just the more resilient stone.

Read on in my newly updated profile of Domaine de Montgilet, a leading domaine on the Aubance.
http://www.thewinedoctor.com/loire/montgilet.shtml
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Château Cantemerle is located to the north of the city of Bordeaux, a huge estate blessed with parkland and woodland as well as a very extensive vineyard. A journey north along the D2, past Parempuyre and Ludon-Médoc lands you on its doorstep, or at least at its gateway, without any need for complicated instructions. It is the second of the many classed growth estates that you will pass on this route, the first having been Château La Lagune.

Many of the châteaux in this corner of Bordeaux have an ancient heritage. Unlike many of the grand estates of St Estèphe, Pauillac and St Julien which were only planted once the Médoc was drained during the 17th century, history here stretches back much further, to the early Middle Ages and sometimes beyond. This is true of Château Cantemerle, which has a fairly well-documented history beginning in the 12th century. The one thing we don't know about the château is the origin of the name. It seems as though there are many theories, of which the one proposed by Alfred Danflou, writing in Les Grands Crus Bordelais (Librairie Goudin, 1867), is perhaps the best. Danflou suggested that the name comes from "le merle y chante", or the song of the blackbirds. It strikes a chord with me simply because I can think of numerous other domaines, from Bordeaux to the Coteaux du Layon down to Châteauneuf du Pape, where domaines and even individual cuvées have indeed been named for the chante le merle or, more commonly, simply chantemerle. I confess, however, I am not convinced there is any solid evidence in support of Danflou's proposal......

Read on in a new, six-page profile of Château Cantemerle, a source of good-value wines from the Haut-Médoc.
http://www.thewinedoctor.com/bordeaux/cantemerle.shtml
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Chris Kissack

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Now and again I come across a hidden gem in Bordeaux, and in more recent years when I have done so it has tended to be in St Emilion that I made the discovery. Like many such 'hidden' gems, Château de Pressac can only be described as hiding in plain sight. The château occupies a prominent position on the edge of the limestone plateau, looking down onto the plain below. The very solid rectangular tower that stands proud at one corner is a truly imposing structure which, in reality, is difficult to overlook.
Château de Pressac is notable for many reasons, not least its striking position and appearance. This is the case even though the château today is a pale imitation of what it once was, as during the Medieval period this commanding fortified residence boasted 27 towers. It is also a historically significant château, because it was here in 1453 that the victorious French watched their English opponents sign away their claim to the region after their defeat at the Battle of Castillon. The armistice marked the end of the Hundred Years' War and saw all Bordeaux return to French rule after three hundred years under the English yoke. This estate thus witnessed a turning point in French history, one that defined the shape of the nation as it exists today. No other château in the region can make such a claim.
Read on as I meet Jean-François Quenin and profile Château de Pressac, a recently revitalised château in St Emilion.
http://www.thewinedoctor.com/bordeaux/pressac.shtml
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If you're a jazz fan, then the name of this wine will immediately mean something to you. Archie Shepp's seminal 1967 album The Magic of Ju-Ju features Shepp's free-form saxophone set against a frenetic African beat. The percussion side of it, which includes drums, bells and rhythm logs, has a furious rapidity and regularity, and it goes on for a solid 18 minutes and 37 seconds without respite, save for a couple of trumpets that appear in the last two minutes, as if to say "come on now, stop this". It is something you probably either fall in love with and listen to again and again, for the rest of your life, or you listen to once, and chalk it up to experience. I've now listened to it twice though, so I am not quite sure which camp I fall in.

Read on, with the Magic of Ju-Ju.....
http://www.thewinedoctor.com/weekend/mosse_magicofjuju_2014.shtml
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Weekend Wine: Domaine Mosse Magic of Ju-Ju 2014
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I think it is true that within the Loire Valley, the reputation of Chinon does tend to overshadow the other red appellations of Touraine, which are led by Bourgueil and St Nicolas de Bourgueil. That is a shame, as there are some very dedicated vignerons here, in both appellations, and the terroir is no less interesting here than in Chinon. There are alluvial vineyards on gravel and sand, but there is also clay, and best of all there is limestone here too.

If there is one vigneron I would propose provides good evidence of the interest waiting to be found in these appellations it would be Yannick Amirault.

I taste 2014, 2013, 2012 & 2011 with Yannick's son, Benoit Amirault (pictured).
http://www.thewinedoctor.com/tastingsformal/yannickamirault2016.shtml
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The vineyards of Château Trottevieille lie on the limestone plateau to the east of St Emilion; as you head out in this direction it is impossible to miss the château and chai which occupy a fairly prominent corner position on the road running out from the top of St Emilion. Having past Château Villemaurine, en route to all the popular châteaux in the Mondot secteur and beyond including Château Troplong-Mondot, La Mondotte and Château Barde-Haut to name but three, Château Trottevieille sits in a fork in the road, the gateway to the château and grounds on the road on one side, the chai sitting on the roadside of the other.

This prominent roadside position is perhaps relevant to the origins of the name of this château, although I am not sure how large a pinch of salt is required in order for us to believe the story. The property sits on the site of an old staging post, and legend has it that the resident was an old woman who would come down to the roadside to attend to the coaches, and to catch up on the gossip. Before long the stop became known as La Trotte Vieille, literally the old trotter, a reference to the old maid with a taste for idle talk. When I first read of this story I wasn't convinced. Many years later, I have to say my opinion hasn't really changed. Although, having said that, no-one has ever come up with an alternative theory.

I update my profile of Château Trottevieille, in St Emilion.
http://www.thewinedoctor.com/bordeaux/trottevieille.shtml
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Chris Kissack

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The final day of the Salon des Vins de Loire is, sadly, always dominated by the long trek home. A bus down to the station, a train to Paris (with two changes for added fun this year), several hours of hanging about in Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, then the flight home. Sometimes I think the airport wait is the worst part of it. Despite being a huge international hub, the facilities are lacking. After security there was only one café serving hot food, which I couldn’t even chase down with a coffee because their hot-beverage-pretending-to-be-coffee machine was broken. The options for shopping, if you are into that sort of thing, include gift shops selling over-priced and rather tatty gifts (pots of foie gras, factory-made macarons, that sort of thing), hugely expensive fripperies from branded stores such as Prada, Cartier, Hermès or Dior (scarves for €350, watches for €7500), and a rip-off upmarket-booze-and-fag store.

The Salons of Angers, Day 5
http://www.thewinedoctor.com/blog/2016/02/the-salons-of-angers-day-5/
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There is, I sense, something of a soft spot for Château Cissac in the British wine trade. There are some obvious reasons why this might be the case, those that could perhaps be applied to any number of left-bank estates. There is the location, a stone's throw from some very famous Médoc appellations, namely Pauillac (east and south a little) and St Estèphe (east and north a little). And while this may mean the estate does not have the benefit of a perfectly drained gravel slope that runs directly down to the palus, within sight of the Gironde, it does still have some favourable sandy-gravelly soils, over a deep limestone bedrock. This means the estate can offer a wine fashioned in a classic left-bank style, but with the potential for good value as well. And there isn't a wine buyer or a wine critic who shouldn't be swayed by that.

I profile Château Cissac, an old-school Haut-Médoc estate on the up.
http://www.thewinedoctor.com/bordeaux/cissac.shtml
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Although no other river in the region, indeed no other river in France, can match the unbridled majesty of the Loire, the many tributaries that flow into France's wildest river should not be overlooked. This is certainly true of the Cher, which has something vinous to offer the more inquisitive among us, as well as giving visitors to the region one of the best château-viewing experiences there is in Château de Chenonceau.

Indeed, although the vineyards that follow the course of the river have no great appellation like others that look down onto the Loire or the Vienne, there are several viticultural hotspots of interest here. Upstream of Château de Chenonceau, further upstream than Montrichard and its Medieval bridge, we find one such hotspot. On the left bank at Pouillé, set back from the river and its alluvial plain here perhaps half a kilometre wide, there rise low hills of limestone, flint and clay. Vineyards nestle on these slopes, snaking their way up to the summit, each emerald-green band of vines separated from the next by a phalanx of trees, making regimented stripes of alternating vineyard and woodland running up and down the slope.

I profile Les Maisons Brûlées, an iconic biodynamic domaine created by Michel Augé, now run by Paul Gillet.
http://www.thewinedoctor.com/loire/maisonsbrulees.shtml
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So that's the red 'big five' - Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Grolleau and Pineau d'Aunis - all done. As with the white varieties, however, there are many other less iconic varieties waiting to be discovered in the Loire Valley. Some are hardly insignificant though, and some have great yet still untapped potential. There are huge areas planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, and Côt has been touted as the Loire Valley's 'next big thing'. You could argue that each deserved a detailed examination of their own.

I continue my Loire wine guide, with a last look at the varieties of the Loire Valley. Here I finish up with Côt, the other Cabernet, Pinot Meunier & more.
http://www.thewinedoctor.com/regionalguides/loire_05_varieties_11otherred.shtml
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Although I have visited Château Le Gay several times, it always seems to be a very rushed affair, dashing in for a quick slurp of the latest barrel samples, then dashing out again, just one of many stop-offs on a once-yearly whirlwind tour of the Pomerol appellation. I do enjoy the opportunity to linger a little longer, to try and get under the skin of a domaine though, and very recently I was able to do just that here at Château Le Gay. I visited in order to taste the 2013 vintage, recently bottled, but I was glad of the opportunity to taste some other wines, to linger a while in the cellars which have now been given over entirely facilitating the process of vinification integrale, and to meet winemaker for all the Péré-Vergé estates Marcelo Pelleriti (pictured).

I visit Château Le Gay, get to grips with 'vinification integrale', and taste four wines from the Vignobles Péré-Vergé domaines, all made by Marcelo Pelleriti.
http://www.thewinedoctor.com/tastingsformal/pereverge2016.shtml
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Far to the south of Chinon and Bourgueil, way beyond the southernmost tip of the generic Touraine appellation, lie the vineyards of Haut-Poitou. These long-established vineyards can be found planted on a plateau of limestone and clay, not an unfamiliar landscape for any drinker of Vouvray, Chinon or Saumur (or St Emilion for that matter), which is situated to the north of the town of Poitiers.

Looking beyond the big names in the Loire....I profile Domaine La Tour Beaumont in Haut-Poitou, now run by the dynamic Pierre Morgeau.
http://www.thewinedoctor.com/loire/latourbeaumont.shtml
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Have him in circles
307 people
Peter Handzus's profile photo
Lino Saenz's profile photo
Chris Wright's profile photo
Mário Cota Cruz Costa's profile photo
Antonio Campagnefilho perfil's profile photo
drak prince mazharul's profile photo
ANGELA BRIARS's profile photo
Maggie Mostert's profile photo
David Wong's profile photo
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Wine Writer
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  • Winedoctor
    2000 - present
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Chris Kissack is the author of Winedoctor.
Introduction
Chris Kissack is a British wine writer, creator and author of Winedoctor online, and the Pocket Guide to Bordeaux in print. Having launched Winedoctor online in 2000, Kissack was one of the earliest writers to adopt the internet as the main medium for his writings.
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  • Douglas High School
    2014
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