The judges

Decanter - - PANEL TASTING -

Jim Budd

Con­tribut­ing to De­can­ter since 1989. Budd writes the award-win­ning blog Jim’s Loire, and is one of the five mem­bers of the Les 5 du Vin blog in France. He con­trib­utes to Hugh John­son’s Pocket Wine Book and is a keen pho­tog­ra­pher, es­pe­cially in the Loire.

My top three

■ Do­maine du Mortier, Dionysos,

St-Ni­co­las de Bour­gueil 2016 From the clay-lime­stone slopes, a dense, deeply coloured wine, se­duc­tively tex­tured with mouth­fill­ing red and black fruits. Lovely bal­ance, oak adding com­plex­ity. Or­ganic, and one for the cel­lar. 97 Drink 2018-2030

■ Do­maine Gros­bois, Gabare, Chi­non

2017 since re­turn­ing in 2008 af­ter work­ing around the world, ni­co­las gros­bois has taken it to an­other level. smoky nose, con­cen­tra­tion and struc­ture. Pow­er­ful, best kept a year or two. Cer­ti­fied or­ganic. 97 Drink 2020-2025 ■ Château de Minière, Vignes Cen­te­naires de Minière, Bour­gueil 2015 Or­ganic and from vines more than 100 years old, this is deeply coloured, op­u­lently tex­tured, con­cen­trated and well balanced with a long fin­ish. Can be en­joyed now or put away in the cel­lar. 96 Drink 2018-2022

Chris Kis­sack

Kis­sack has pub­lished www.thewine­doc­tor. com since 2000. He has fo­cused on Bordeaux and the Loire for many years, and has been a fre­quent visi­tor to both re­gions since 1993. In the Loire, he writes reg­u­lar first-hand re­ports on do­maines, vine­yards and har­vests.

My top three

■ Yan­nick Ami­rault, Les Mal­gagnes Am­phore, St-Ni­co­las de Bour­gueil 2016 This top do­maine is in­creas­ingly run by Yan­nick’s son Benoît, who is not afraid to ex­per­i­ment. From one of the ap­pel­la­tion’s most revered vine­yards, this cu­vée is vini­fied in ter­ra­cotta am­phorae. 91 Drink 2018-2025

■ Do­maine de la Noblaie, Pierre de Tuf,

Chi­non 2015 Jérôme Bil­lard is an up-and­com­ing su­per­star in Chi­non. This cu­vée comes from a se­lec­tion of the best fruit at har­vest, and it is vini­fied in a lime­stone vat. it shows well with bot­tle age. 90 Drink 2018-2022

■ Do­maine Do­zon, Clos du Saut au

Loup, Chi­non 2017 Af­ter cen­turies of own­er­ship, in 2013 the Do­zon fam­ily sold this do­maine to Eric santier, who up to then had been work­ing with Bernard and Matthieu Baudry. Eric fash­ions wines of in­creased pu­rity and fresh­ness. 90 Drink 2018-2025

Ben Llewe­lyn

Llewe­lyn moved his fam­ily to France in 2007 to ex­pe­ri­ence the life of a wine­maker while study­ing for his MW, and in 2008 he set up the whole­sale agency and im­porter Carte Blanche Wines, which leans to­wards pro­duc­ers who choose to make wine as nat­u­rally as pos­si­ble.

My top three

■ Château de la Bon­nelière, Le Clos,

Chi­non 2014 From one of the larger fam­ily do­maines with vine­yards on the south­ern coteaux, this stood out for its clas­si­cal lines and pu­rity of fruit. One of a num­ber of wines from the do­maine that are worth seek­ing out and stor­ing away. 97 Drink 2019-2029

■ Do­maine Gros­bois, Gabare, Chi­non

2017 A sin­gle par­cel of clas­sic clay and lime­stone soil where the gra­di­ent rises to meet the forests. The scent and el­e­gance typ­ify the hall­marks of this ter­roir – an ab­so­lute clas­sic. Farmed or­gan­i­cally. 96 Drink 2020-2025

■ Do­maine du Mortier, Dionysos,

St-Ni­co­las de Bour­gueil 2016 Fa­bien and Cyril con­sis­tently pro­duce some of the best (value) wines of this area and Dionysos, a se­lec­tion of old vines, is one of their best. if you want to know what great st-ni­co­las should taste like, look no fur­ther! 95 Drink 2018-2030

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