I tend to choose wine as much on romantic whim as carefully balanced knowledge, so when I saw Domaine Saint Benoit VdP 2003 I had to have a bottle. Cycling the Loire this summer I came across the Abbey of Saint Benoir between Gien and Jargeau. It was quite the most beautiful moment. The church itself was huge, though quite plain, with impressive stained glass. As I walked in the organist was practicing and I was hit with a wave of Frankincense in the coolness of the church, a full assault on all the senses.
The monks I met outside found it hilarious that we were cycling in the pouring rain with absurd rain jackets covering our tops, but with pink legs out in the wet. They were very sweet about it and wished us Bon Courage, rather than Bon Voyage – rarely a good sign.
So Domaine Saint Benoit had a good start, but it’s not from the same neighbourhood. It’s a Chardonnay from Provence, made in 2003, a very hot year in a hot part of France. That said this wine didn’t show signs of being cooked.
It’s was pale, bright and a soft yellow. It smells lightly of peaches and elderflower blossom. It’s dry with a medium acidity and no oak. The peaches follow through, with some melon and pineapple lurking in the background. Even the 13% alcohol doesn’t hint at the heat of 2003.
At around £6.50 a bottle this is a perfectly good wine. It didn’t overwhelm me in the same way as the Abbey of Saint Benoir did, but that’s a lot to ask from a mid-priced, mid-week bottle of wine!