The sad pleasure of that last bottle

Yesterday we pulled out the second-from-the-last bottle of a much enjoyed case of Loire wines from small producers, and it proved to be a sad pleasure.

Explore Wine-Searcher is the place to go online if you want to find where to buy a particular wine, beer, or spirit that interests you. Compare prices, find the best bargains, and find vendors convenient to you. And that’s not all. It’s well worth a visit just to discover its many features, including its popular list of the world’s Top 10 Best Value Wines.

Subscribe to The 30 Second Wine Advisor!

A sad pleasure? Do you think this sounds like self-contradiction? I meant it that way.

Allow me to explain. These last two bottles of Clos Roche Blanche 2012 “L’Arpent Rouge” Touraine – an organic, unfiltered wine – were all that remained from a dozen in a mixed case of Loire goodies that I purchased from New York’s Chambers Street Wines in 2014. Several bottles of Puzelat-Bonhomme 2012 Touraine Pineau d’Aunis had gone down the hatch already, along with one of the same tiny producer’s rare Pinot Noir.

Now we were down to just two bottles, both the Clos Roche Blanche. Although the label lists no grape variety, this one is Pineau d’Aunis too. It’s a rare and little-known grape that makes a peppery, minerally, rustic wine that’s not a style calculated to earn critical points or trophies, but we love it.

Wine maker Didier Barouillet in the vineyards at Clos Roche Blanche.

Wine maker Didier Barouillet in the vineyards at Clos Roche Blanche. (Louis/Dressner photo)

When I pulled the long natural cork – thankfully without a hint of cork taint – there was a gentle pop and a few drops popped out, wafting out that delicious white-pepper and cranberry scents associated with the grape. I poured, and the wine was good.

All that is the “pleasure” part. So why the sadness?

For starters, as delicious as the wine remained, it soon became clear that it was on its last legs. The color was still a pretty red, clear and not too dark, but a distinct bronze hue around the rim signaled that oxygen was beginning to get to the wine. Indeed, after an hour in the glass, with that distinct peppery note beginning to fade, a note of the sherry-like character that signals oxidation started to creep in. It’s still alive, but it’s good we didn’t wait much longer. Will that last bottle be better, worse, or about the same? There’s only one way to find out, and I had better not wait too much longer to open it.

But wait! There’s more. In searching the Internet for background information about the wine, I discovered that there will be no more Clos Roche Blanc. The producers on the tiny property, Didier Barouillet and his partner Catherine Roussel, have retired, and 2014 was their last vintage. The property has been taken over by another producer, Julien Pineau, who is winning acclaim in his own right, but there will never be another bottle quite the same as this memorable wine. What’s not sad about that?

So we drank the wine with mixed emotions, realizing once again how wine is so much more than just a thirst-quenching beverage. Isn’t that why we love it?

I decided to enjoy this wine as part of our June Wine Focus, Open that Bottle Month!, in our WineLovers Discussion Group. In homage to “Open that Bottle Night,” created by wine writers Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher as a reminder to take out and enjoy a treasured bottle every year on the last Saturday of February, we decided that the challenges of 2020 justify devoting an entire month as a time when it’s not only permissible but desirable to open and enjoy some of our finest wines.

Why don’t you join us? Find a wine that you’ve been saving for a special occasion, and make now the time. If you don’t have a cellar, treat yourself to a special bottle. And when you’ve enjoyed it, visit our forum and tell us about it!

Today’s Sponsor:

Explore Wine-Searcher is the place to go online if you want to find where to buy a particular wine that interests you. What’s more, offers so much more. It’s well worth a visit just to discover its many features, including its popular list of the world’s Top 10 Best Value Wines.


Today’s Tasting Report

Clos Roche Blanche 2012 “L’Arpent Rouge” Touraine ($18.89)

Clos Roche Blanche

I had two bottles left of this delicious Loire Pineau d’Aunis. Now there’s only one left! Not meant for long aging, perhaps, this eight-year-old wine has taken on a hint of bronze at the edge of its clear, dark-ruby color, and a whiff of oxidation that becomes more apparent after an hour in the glass. It’s still very much alive, though, offering that characteristic Pineau d’Aunis blast of freshly ground white pepper backed by tart cranberries and subtle stony minerality on the nose and palate, with a modest 12% alcohol that doesn’t get in the way. A complex mix of pepper and red fruit with crisp acidity lingers in a very long finish. (June 4 , 2020)

FOOD MATCH: We enjoyed this treasure mostly by sipping alone, but its peppery presence made it a surprisingly amiable companion with a bowl of not-too-fiery chili con carne.

WHEN TO DRINK: It’s a beauty as it moved into old age, but even if you have better cellar conditions than I do, I wouldn’t keep it much longer.

I bought it for $18.89 from Chambers Street Wines in 2013. It’s certainly worth more than that now in terms of simple enjoyment.

This fascinating profile of wine maker Didier Barouillet and the winery Clos Roche Blanche remains on the Louis/Dressner website for your enjoyment.

As you might expect of an Open That Bottle Month treasure, Clos Roche Blanche “L’Arpent Rouge” Touraine is no longer available on Its successor on the property, Domaine Julien Pineau, has only limited distribution, mostly in Japan.

However, you can find dozens of other Loire Pineau d’Aunis wines at this Wine-Searcher link.

Now’s the time! Find a bottle of something special that you’ve been hoarding, or go buy an extra-fine bottle, and poke a thumb in the eye of all that the nation and the world are doing through. Then come talk about it in this month’s Wine Focus conversation, Open that Bottle Month!, in our WineLovers Discussion Group.


More affordable wines

Want tips to still more good, inexpensive wines? Here are Wine-Searcher links to vendors and prices for a bunch more wines for $10 or less that I’ve told you about during the past year or two. Please tell us about your favorites!

  • La Vieille Ferme Vin de France Rosé ($8.99)
  • La Fiera Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($8.99)
  • Laroque Cité de Carcassonne Cabernet Franc ($9.99)
  • Domaine de Pouy 2016 Côtes de Gascogne ($7.99)
  • Alamos Mendoza Malbec ($9.99)
  • Caposaldo Chianti ($8.99)
  • d’Arenberg McLaren Vale “The Stump Jump” ($9.99)
    Thirty Second Wine Advisor

    Sponsor the Wine Advisor.

    We appreciate your support

    Support The 30 Second Wine Advisor and help us pay the rent while reaching 25,000 dedicated readers with your sponsorship message in this space, at the top of this E-letter, and on our social media. If you’re an established business in wine, food, and similar ventures, there’s no better way to focus your message toward an audience that comes here for just those topics. See our Sponsorship Page, or email Robin Garr for more information.


    Wine Forum and Social Media

    If you have questions, comments or ideas to share about today’s article or wine in general, you’re always welcome to drop by our online WineLovers Discussion Group, the Internet’s first and most civil online community.

    Discussions are open for public viewing, but you must register to post. If you’re a Facebook user, you can join our forum with a single click! All you need to do is visit the forum and click “Social Login” at upper right.

    We’d also be delighted to have you visit and “Like” our WineLovers Facebook Page. This way you can get Facebook notifications when there’s a new The 30 Second Wine Advisor issue or a topic of particular interest on the WineLovers Discussion Group (WLDG).


    Subscriptions and Administrivia

    We’re sorry if you must leave us, but simply click the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of your Email edition to be instantly removed from the mailing list.

    Change address:
    The quickest and easiest way to change your email address is simply to unsubscribe from your old address and register again from the new one: Subscribe to The 30 Second Wine Advisor (free).

    Read nearly 20 years of past articles in the Wine Advisor Archives.

    Sponsorship Opportunities:
    For information, email Robin Garr at

    Bookmark the permalink.

    Read more articles from The 30 Second Wine Advisor

    Comments are closed