Bourgueil is located west of Tours in the western part of the Loire Valley. Bourgueil is situated on the northern side of the Loire, across the river from Chinon, and represents one of the northern-most appellations for growing red grape varieties in France. There are a variety of soil types here with the biggest and most cellar-worthy wines generally coming from the best vineyards on the slopes located further away from the Loire to the north and north-east of the town of Bourgueil. The vineyards on the flat gravelly river soils closer to the Loire yield wines which are usually aromatic, elegant and earlier to mature.
Amirault has about 13 hectares of vineyard holdings in Bourgueil, mostly located on, or just at, the base of these slopes to the north and northeast of the village of Bourgueil. He also has 6 hectares in Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil. Even in abundant years the yields are kept very low by doing a green harvest so the quality and consistency at this estate is remarkable. 2006 was a year that also benefited the late ripening Cabernet Franc but only those growers who worked hard to control the yields have gained the benefits. Amirault’s average yield in 2003 + 2004 was 44 hl/ha compared to authorized yields of 55 hl/ha for Bourgueil and 60 hl/ha for Saint Nicholas de Bourgueil.
All vinifications are made with indigenous yeasts with no acid or sugar adjustment. All wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered. Amirault produces 5 Bourgueil’s and 4 St Nicolas de Bourgueil’s from which we have selected following;
100% Cabernet Franc for all wines
2015 Bourgueil La Coudraye
From vines averaging 30 to 35 years old, on mostly sandy slopes situated closer to the town of Bourgueil. Made from yields around 30hl/ha the alcoholic fermentation is done in open tanks with gentle plunging. Aged in large specially designed large wooden tanks for 12 months, this wine is notable for its freshness and perfume and has very fine tannins well covered with admirable flesh coming from fully ripe fruit.
‘This, says Benoit, is essentially the domaine cuvée, produced from vines planted around the cellars. He and Yannick routinely make two bottlings, the first in May or June, the second in September, and this is from the second bottling. The aromatics are fresh and pithy, with fine damson-skin fruit. The palate is fresh, with bright fruit, pure, with flavours of red plum, cranberry and a little damson fruit. It has the fine fruit of an entry-level cuvée, showing the strength of the vintage, while it feels a little more structured and pithy than the first bottling which I tasted at the domaine last year. Good, for drinking over the next five years.‘ 92 points, Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com, February 2017.
2014 Saint Nicholas de Bourgueil La Source
Produced from vines planted mostly on sandy soils with an average age of 30+ years, this wine is vinified in tank and aged in large ‘tronconic’ barrels designed specially in this area. The wine is loaded with perfumed cherry and red-currant fruit along with generous hints of spice, white pepper and even chocolate. This is a perfumed and supple wine that is perfect for drinking on its perfumed and fleshy primary fruit.
2010 Bourgueil Pavillon du Grand Clos
Made from a small clos right in front of Nicole & Yannick Amirault’s house, located on the prime mid-to-high part of the slope above Bourgueil.
‘A black-tulip core with a claretty rim. The nose is determinedly concentrated, rich in fruit character, led by scents of blackberry, but delivered in a challenging, spicy and sooty style, with notes of black pepper and sweet black liquorice essence. Not to mention the Cabernet character coming through in a quite notable fashion, the fruit expressing itself through the scents of bay leaf and green peppercorn. The palate possesses a creamed-fruit texture, a velvety weight, and it is loaded with ripe and plush tannins. It boasts a massive texture but also a sense of openness and balance, with a little touch of high-toned lift to the fruit. A fabulously ripe wine, but it is bright too, and there is some aromatic complexity here, the middle and end perfumed with violets and rose petals. A serious, hugely structured wine which is brimming with tannic potential. I am glad to have a few more of these tucked away in the cellar.’ 96 points, Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com, May 2017.
‘Pavillon du Grand Clos is actually the official name of Domaine Amirault, but it also graces the label of their top bottling, which is made from their finest terroir. The vines here are still on the young side by the high standards of this domaine, but the vigor of these fifteen year-old cabernet franc vines is held in check by green harvesting and aggressive pruning. I do not have figures on how much new wood the wine is raised in, but it clearly sees some during its elevage. The 2010 Pavillon du Grand Clos is a young and outstanding bottle of Bourgueil, offering up a primary and very classy nose of dark berries, a bit of roasted meats, espresso, woodsmoke, tobacco leaf, dark soil tones, tree bark and a stylish base of new oak. On the palate the wine is deep, focused and rock solid at the core, with a very youthful personality, firm, chewy tannins and a very long, nascently complex finish that closes with superb grip and intensity of flavor. This is a great bottle of Bourgueil in the making, but it will need some time in the cellar to start to blossom. 2020-2045.’ 94 points, John Gilman, View from the Cellar.
2009 Bourgueil La Petite Cave
This wine is produced from old vines averaging more than 45 years old which are located around the middle of the slope on the best soils. The wine is matured in 450 litre demi-muid barrels and is the richest and deepest wine in his cellar. In great years like 1997 and 2003 the wine is a thick almost impenetrable black colour with amazing concentration and depth of mulberry and black raspberry fruit with anise and spice notes that linger for ages. This is a wine that shows very well at a relatively young age in ripe years like 2006, and which will also age effortlessly for decades. This wine has remarkable depth of fruit supported by substantial fine tannins with just enough acidity to keep the wine fresh and appetizing without becoming too heavy. From the outstanding 2009 vintage, this is a remarkably fresh and pure wine of substantial depth and structure. This is Bourgueil, and Cabernet Franc, at its finest.
‘This cuvée was not produced in 2008. Argilo-calcaire soils, the élevage an anticipated 18 months in 400-litre tonneaux. A good depth to the fruit character here, rather dense, darkly-spiced fruit, a touch savoury but still very fresh and lifted despite the suggestion of weight. A good substance, with fresh violets and red fruits moving into darker fruits in the middle, with a supple texture and also a lot of midpalate structure to it. Big, grippy, ripe and bold tannins around the edges, with ripe fruits, damsons, plum skins and notes of spice. In the finish it displays a big wall of tannins; this is obviously a serious, structured and cellar-worthy wine.’ 94-96 points, Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com, January 2011.