Tasting Loire Chenin Blanc With Richard Kelly MW


“It’s my Mission from God to convince the consumers that Chenin is the World’s Greatest Grape Variety. Hopefully this line-up should do the trick.” – Richard Kelly MW



Richard Kelly MW presented his selection of top Loire wines to the members of the Harrogate Medical Wine Society on Thursday 4 November 2016. The tasting was held at the Masonic Hall in Harrogate and was attended by 31 members of the Society.

Santa Digna Estelado Rose Brut 2013 was served before the tasting.

Richard talked about his love affair with Loire Chenin Blanc since the tender age of 20, his seven-year stint in South Africa, sitting the Master of Wine examination in the nineties and his years in the wine trade.

“Chenin is such a versatile grape” he said. “You can do anything with it – make sparkling wine or dry and sweet still wine. You can even distill it. It gives high yields and has searing acidity which is ideal for distilling, as South Africans have found. It produces the longest lived wines, the high concentration of malic acid giving it longevity.’

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The Wines

  • 2009 Vouvray Méthode Traditionelle BrutSébastien Brunet (£24.00): “Slopes here are south-east facing and 2009 was a very good vintage. About 70% of the wines of Vouvray is sparkling. I have worked with this producer for over five years and think this is a good buy” Richard said after describing the ‘Ancestral’ method of making sparkling wines in Vouvray. “Pressure in the bottle is half that of champagne (about 2.5 to 3 atmospheres) which is favoured by many producers here.”
  • 2013 Saumur ‘La Jouvencelle’ Domaine de Rocheville: The wine came from Richard’s private cellar. “The producer is a rich man who inherited an Hypermarket but sold it to buy a vineyard as he was passionate about wine. He makes more Cabernet Franc than Chenin” Richard explained. “2013 was not a great vintage but the wine with its searing acidity typifies young Chenin Blanc. It is probably in the ‘dumb’ state that Chenin goes into after 3 or four years in bottle but will age gracefully for decades. It is only an entry-level wine but is great with Charcuterie with the acid cutting through the fat of the meat.
  • 1980 Vouvray ‘Le Haut Lieu’ Vin de GlaceDomaine Huet: Another wine from Richard’s own collection. It was dark yellow in colour, the nose suggested sweetness but the wine was bone dry. “1980 was a terrible vintage. The grapes were picked on the fifth of December and the vineyards were covered in snow. It demonstrates the longevity of Chenin even in bad vintages and I love it” Richard said.
  • 2002 Vouvray Demi SecDomaine de Pouvray (£30.00): Appears young even though it is 14 years old. It has a residual sugar level of 20 g/l and 13% alcohol. “This is the defining style of Vouvray Demi Sec” Richard added.
  • 2002 Jasnières ‘Les Rosiers’ Domaine de la Bellivière: “Jasnières is a very small appellation in the extreme north of the Loire wine region, created in1937. The wine is made in an oxidative style with a residual sugar level of 12 g/l. 2002 was a great vintage.”
  • 2014 Savennières ‘Les Genêts’ Damien Laureau (£32.00): “Another great vintage. The wine was aged in second year Burgundy oak barrels.”
  • 1989 Coteaux de l’AubanceChâteau d’Avrillé (£20.00): “A modest example of a wine from vineyards opposite Savennières in a great year.”
  • 1975 Coteaux du Layon, Moulin Touchais (£60.00): “A great wine from a great vintage”
  • 1996 Vouvray ‘Le Haut Lieu’ Moelleux 1ere Trie, Domaine Huet: A fabulous old sweet wine from a great master.

Natural wines all taste the same with no sense of place. Most of them are undrinkable. Coulee de Serrant is a great Savennières terroir but in the wrong hands!” – Richard Kelly MW




Supper followed the tasting. Adam Vear of the Masonic Hall served pan roasted breast of duck with fondant new potatoes and Cointreau reduction followed by sticky toffee pudding and vanilla ice cream. Ken Forrester’s Renegade 2011 – a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre (click here to read more about the wine) was poured with the duck.


  • “I’ve always said that I didn’t care for Wines of the Loire but I was pleasantly surprised last evening – I really enjoyed the Tasting and Richard Kelly presented them well, he really knows his Wines! A very good evening with an excellent supper.” – Gwynneth Owen, Leeds, 4th November 2016
  • “Thank you for another excellent evening with a first class presenter Richard Kelley MW enthusing us with his passion for Chenin Blanc. His sense of place struck  a chord as to us that is what makes a good wine great. Some of the wines however were not to our taste being far too sweet – Honey nose and baker-apple taste. We enjoyed the 2009 Vouvray Methode Traditonelle Brut,Sebastien Brunet which would be a lovely wine to have at Christmas. The 1996 Vouvray le Haut Lieu was superb and went down very well with the Sticky Toffee Pudding . An excellent meal, good company and again we learnt a lot. Thank you Bernard for your hard work in organising it. Best wishes” – Pat & John (Shore), Harrogate, 4th November 2016

Further Reading

3 thoughts on “Tasting Loire Chenin Blanc With Richard Kelly MW

  1. Some fascinating wines presented by a passionate Chenin Blanc expert. Richard showed us the versatility of this grape when grown in France. It was so special to be able to have some of the wines from his cellar. A big thank you to Bernard and Richard.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Incredible! What a hell of a lineup. I’ve written about Gaston Huet, and after doing so several readers came forth to share their stories of getting wine directly from the man himself. So many histories & legacies in the region; so many influences. Sparks the imagination & heart.

    What a generous tasting, one I’d be thrilled to enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

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