Loire Love

DRINK This – week of February 17, 2014

Each week Treve highlights 5 timely and tasty picks. Her weekly choices include Locavore (BC wines), Cellar Dweller (wines to lay down for a while for maximum enjoyment), Budgeteer (wallet-friendly bottles under $15), Adventurer (wines for geeks, enlightening or pushing the envelope) and No Wineos (a non-wine pro-alcoholic beverage). So what are you waiting for? DRINK This!

Loire Love

I was fortunate to speak about Loire wines to a group of wine retailers in Vancouver recently, sharing stories about my recent visit (I was hit by a car in Chavignol) and my love for the wines (I crush on Chenin Blanc). Dubbed the ‘garden of France’ for its pastoral hills, riverfront chateaus and historic castles, the region has had a very long wine history; organized viticulture began here with the Romans in the 1st century. The northern latitude (vineyards follow the Loire River, between 47-48 degrees) and cooler climate yields bright, crisp whites, most commonly from Melon de Bourgogne, Sauvignon Blanc and the aforementioned Chenin Blanc. The Loire is also well known for lighter, refreshing reds from Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Gamay, as well as a full spectrum of rosés, sparkling wines and sweet specialties. Though the wines aren’t as familiar to our market, the Loire is the 3rd  largest wine-growing region in France and contains 79 different appellations – a multiple choice exam taker’s nightmare.

If it hasn’t begun already, here are a few picks on our market to start your love affair with the Loire.

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A good looking group of bottles


BM2012-Sauvignon-Blanc-e1392597776217-300x147Locavore

Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Okanagan Valley, BC
*$19  +132571

OK. Not from the Loire, but this Okanagan Falls Sauvignon Blanc presents à la Française in its stony-tinged vein, with an absence of the aggressive brassiness common in many new world SB’s. The oak treatment here (40% fermented and aged in 2-4 year old French oak for 4 months) leans more to Bordeaux Sauvignon, but the crisp apple acidity, herbed orchard fruit, lean gooseberry, fine cream and lemon curd are reflective of these OK Falls’ estate vines and Blue Mountain’s finessed style. White grapefruit on the nose carries through to the finish, with fine lees and spice over the medium bodied palate. Consistently one of BC’s best SB’s – I’m looking forward to trying this again as it continues to evolve. 88 points.

 


fouassier-e1392597814791Cellar Dweller

Fouassier Pere Et Fils
Sancerre Les Romains 2011
Sancerre, Loire, France
$30  +495648

I love that I love this wine so much. I’m personally not a big Sauvignon Blanc flag flyer, so tend to pass over SB when I’m selecting a wine to drink. But you can’t think of this as just Sauvignon Blanc you see – it’s Sancerre. Or, more correctly, it’s Les Romains, 3 HA of 30ish year old vines, on silex flinty clay across southwest exposed slopes. THAT is what you taste, and that is why I love this biodynamically managed, organically farmed wine. Light smokiness, pronounced stone and ripe pear, with a pear skin bitterness tempering the fruit. There’s a vibrant fluidity in the mouth of this wine – more pronounced minerality, dense Anjou pear, mild honey, salted white grapefruit and savoury spice on the finish. Drink now (oysters! chèvre!), though this wine will continue to honey, mushroom and mature over the next 5-10+ years. 90 points.

 


bougrier-e1392597711342-300x79Budgeteer

Famille Bourgrier
Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur lie 2011
Muscadet Sevre et Maine, Loire, France
*$14  +344333

Maison Bougrier is a well known family-owned négociant house in the Loire founded in 1885 now run by the 5th generation of Bougriers. As mandated by the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine AOC, the wine is 100% Melon de Bourgogne, a higher acid, lithely bodied, mildly citrus grape that welcomes the added richness and body of sur lie treatment. These grapes are in the area where the Sevre & Maine Rivers meet, grown on clay and silex soils and within close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Delicate, lemon bright, tight shell and light grass, with a slightly earthy cushion due to time on the yeasty lees. These wines are at their peak when young and fresh, so reach for recent vintages. As is customary, serve with shellfish and dream of springtime. 85 points.

 


2012-SANCERRE-Chavignol-Rouge-Domaine-Vincent-Delaporte.240x700.8825-e1392597744875-300x84Adventurer

Vincent Delaporte
Sancerre Rouge 2011
Chavignol, Sancerre, Loire, France
*$30  +849422

So you know AOC Sancerre is white. And if you’re keen, you will know it’s 100% Sauvignon Blanc grape. But what about Sancerre Rouge? Oui, red Sancerre. Sancerre Rouge must be made only from 100% Pinot Noir, and accounts for approximately 20% of total Sancerre production. As you would expect from a cool climate pinot, these are lighter, fresher wines. Domaine Vincent Delaporte, passed on from father to sons since the 17th Century, produces some beautiful reds, full of grace, florals and finesse. Here cherry and raspberry dominate the nose, with red flowers and a rasp of cinnamon spice. The palate is juicy fresh, yet firm, with prominent stoniness, swirls of smoky red berries and undercurrents of prune. The vines range in age from 21-40 years and are planted across clay, flint and limestone. This wine is elegant now, served cool and with salmon or charcuterie, but will reward in a few years time with additional earthy, mushroom complexity. 89 points.

 


chambord-e1392597796852No Wineos

Chambord
France
$46  +70573

The positively royale black raspberry liqueur is made in the Loire Valley, inspired by a luxurious liqueur produced for Louis XIV during one of his visits to Chateau Chambord in the late 17th C. The era of luxury and indulgence sparked by Louis XIV is reflected in the distinct orb shaped bottle, with a golden crown-stylized cap and belt. Chambord is made from all natural ingredients; black and red raspberries are blended and steeped in Cognac for several weeks to create a highly concentrated base. The mixture is then extracted and then a second set of spirits is added to the fruit and allowed to rest for a few weeks. After this second infusion is drawn off, the remaining fruit is pressed to obtain the natural sugars and juice. The fruit-infused spirits and juices from the final pressing are then combined and then the Maitre Liquoriste marries the berry infusion with cognac, Madagascan vanilla, black raspberries, Moroccan citrus peel, honey, herbs and spices. The liqueur is 16.5% abv and heady with potent raspberry, spiced honey and vanilla. Smooth and rich, this makes a great addition to cocktails (try with Champagne) or even over vanilla bean ice cream.

 

 

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*Asterisks denote wines that are only available at the winery or select private liquor stores. All other wines are available through BC Liquor Stores. The price is suggested retail price, and may fluctuate depending on source. Wines are scored out of 100 points.

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade. In addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for WineAlign, ...

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