The wines of the Loire

Hello, Feastlings,

While the Loire is home to Sancerre, which we’ll be tasting, and to Chinon, which we’ll be tasting, our own predilection around here is for the Chenin Blanc, which we’ll be tasting.  To borrow a quote from Peter Kasperski of Kazimierz Wine Bar in Scottsdale, “Baumard’s chenins are so mind-bogglingly complex that when rocket scientists are explaining conceptual theories to each other, instead of them saying ‘hey, it ain’t rocket science’, they say ‘hey, it ain’t Baumard chenin.’” If you’d like to join us this Sunday the 27th at 3:30 for the tasting of Chenins and other treats from the Loire Valley, give us a call to hold a spot, and bring twenty-five dollars and an appetite for good wine and tasty snacks. You can call us at 326-9363.

2005 Baumard Quarts de Chaume (Chenin Blanc), 375 ml $50.00

Very fresh, with lots of enticing, fresh-cut citrus and tropical fruits–orange, clementine, mango, papaya–all driven by mouthwatering acidity and superbright minerality.

2009 Domaine des Aubuisieres “Cuvée de Silex” Vouvray (Chenin Blanc) $24.00

Now regarded as one of the top three producers in Vouvray, winemaker Bernard Fouquet captures the subtle mineral tones in the region’s soil without masking the intense fruit of the Chenin Blanc grape.

2007 Baumard Savennières (Chenin Blanc) $28.00

Savennières is a tiny region located on the northern banks of the Loire River, just across from the town of Rochefort Sur Loire. The entire appellation consists of fewer than 200 acres of vines, all planted to Chenin Blanc. The South/Southeast facing vineyards are planted on unique soils composed of schistous volcanic debris mixed with sandstone and granite, imparting a strong, intensely original minerality to the Chenin Blanc grape. Maximum permitted yields are the lowest in France for dry whites, resulting in wines of stunning concentration and perfume. The combination of this concentration with the naturally high acidity of the Chenin Blanc grape results in wines capable of lasting and improving for decades. Pronounced cyanic, fruit pit bitterness and wet stone are prominent in Baumard’s 2007 Savennieres, which when combined with an alkaline aspect definitely pull this in an austere direction. But ripe apple, quince, and peach supply an equal and opposite fruit reaction, which results in fascinating counterpoint. Refreshing primary fruit acidity helps counteract the sense of bitterness and lend the persistent finish vivacity.

2009 Pastou “Le Cote de Sury Vielles Vignes” Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc) $32.00

The Pastou domaine, vintage after vintage, delivers older-vine Sancerre that is raised on flint-rich soils and aged only in tank. Jean-Marc Pastou tends some 25 acres of vines near his family home all in the village of Sury, which is one of 14 villages allowed to produce Sauvignon Blanc as Sancerre. Always firecracker-fresh, with layers of sweet white fruit and plenty of mineral energy, pulled from vines that sit on the upper reaches of the Sury vineyard slopes.

2009 Domaine Claude Branger, Muscadet “Le Fils” Sèvre et Maine $18.00

Claude prunes for low yields, harvests by hand, and lets his wine rest on its lees until bottling, which is done without fining and with a light filtration—the classic sur lie technique. It’s this technique that gives good Muscadet its freshness and lift. Contrary to popular opinion, Muscadet is not, if allowed to ripen properly, naturally high in acid; it’s the lees contact and the resulting CO2 gas that give the wine its crisp spice and zest.

2009 Domaine de Noiré Chinon “Soif de Tendresse” (Cabernet Franc) $24.00

Essence of fresh, juicy, tart blackberries tinged with ginger, pepper, salt, and thyme inform the nose and a palate of vibratory energy and exhilarating invigoration in the finish such as one seldom encounters in a red wine.

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