Although there are subtle differences between the terroir of Menetou-Salon, an up-and-coming region in central Loire, and that of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé to its east, all three regions offer a unique and distinctive take on the expressive Sauvignon Blanc grape variety. In this classic, cool season Loire year, this well-made Assadet Menetou-Salon rings with the freshness and vibrant acidity of the vintage.
The crisp, vibrant style of the cool 2011 vintage plays marvelously into the understated, elegant style of the Sancerre appellation’s namesake château. Bright yellow with gold flashes at the rim, the 2011 Château de Sancerre displays an intense Sauvignon Blanc varietal bouquet of orange flower and wet stone. Vibrant flavors of citrus, melon and stone fruit float above the palate, enlivened by a rush of gentle minerality and crisp acidity toward the finish. A terrific aperitif all by itself, and a match made in heaven with a creamy chevre from our cheese department.
Although the Loire is best known for white wines, it also makes three zesty reds from Cabernet Franc — Bourgueil, Chinon, and Saumur-Champigny. Bourgueil (pronounced ‘boor-gheel’) occupies an agreeable middle ground, not quite as delicate as Chinon, but not as emphatic as Saumur-Champigny. This Bourgueil takes advantage of the warm 2009 vintage, which gave producer Xavier Barc leave to harvest fully ripe Cabernet Franc grapes, a rarity in the Loire. Made in a fruit-forward, Cru Beaujolais style, with lots of cedar n’ spice Cabernet Franc notes, this offering makes for a snappy and savory summer red. Serve lightly chilled.
The 2012 Complices de Loire Touraine Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grown on a 3.5 acre sand and clay vineyard in the heart of the Touraine region of the Loire Valley. The lovely bouquet is an exotic mélange of fresh cut violets, spice/saffron, and cherry confit. On the palate, the wine is every bit a Loire, with the classic crisp minerality of the region; yet because it is made from 100% Pinot Noir, the undercurrent of pure red fruit also calls to mind a young red Burgundy, or a cru Beaujolais (made from Gamay). Deep ruby garnet in color, with soft tannins and a fresh, fruity mouth feel, this wine is made to be enjoyed now. Serve lightly chilled.
If you not yet convinced that the Loire Valley offers some of the greatest values in complex, highly food compatible whites, this sampler will make a believer out of you. It represents the Loire's three major white grape varieties, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and the aptly named "Melon" (from Muscadet), plus a fourth, Chardonnay, which makes for an intriguing blend with the more traditional Sauvignon Blanc in the Cheverny.Comes in an attractive, handy tote bag with one bottle each of the following wines:Moulin Camus Muscadet 2012 (France)Sauger Cheverny "Vieilles Vignes" 2012 (France)Crochet Sancerre "Thibaude" 2012 (France)Vaufuget Vouvray 2012 (France)
I can hardly recall the last time I came across a $9 wine as stylish as this. It's low price also helps makes the next wine, a French Champagne, affordable/includable.