The November MPA Wine Tasting was this past Saturday. John Biers was kind enough to host at his lovely new apartment near the Bastille in Paris. This time around I organized a horizontal tasting of the Loire Valley (here’s a peek back to the October MPA Wine Tasting). It would be difficult to announce any winners to the blind tasting picks, as many people batted a perfect 1000. I was quite impressed, then again out of the 5 wines we tasted, there were 5 distinct varietals represented and so I guess positive results were to be expected. So without further ado, here’s a summary of the tasting.
A quick overview …
The Loire Valley spans from the mouth of the Loire river on the West Atlantic coast near the town of Nantes, then follows the river all the way to the town of Sancerre, about 200 kilometers due South of Paris. The area is so large geographically that it is typically broken down into the Lower Loire (melon de Bourgogne dominated wines of Muscadet), the Middle Loire (Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc dominated wines of Touraine, Saumur, Chinon and Vouvray), and the Upper Loire (Sauvignon Blanc dominated wines of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé).
Loire 2008 Vintage: (Wine Spectator 85-87/87-89/87-89 Rating, Franc/Chenin/Sauvignon) “Humid and gray growing season resulted in grapes struggling to ripen throughout the valley. Harvest stretched late in October, saved by an Indian summer; good botrytis development for Chenin Blanc”
Loire 2007 Vintage: (Wine Spectator 83/90/84 Rating, Franc/Chenin/Sauvignon) “Inconsistent growing season marked by a cool summer that led to uneven ripening for Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. A warm, dry September helped save the vintage for Chenin Blanc; late-harvest dessert wines could be outstanding”
Muscadet Sèvres et Maine (13,000 ha) is near the town of Nantes in the Lower Loire. It is the most significant appellation of Muscadet, accounting for around 75% of overall production and in fact a larger production than any other appellation in the Loire. Melon de Bourgogne, a white grape, is the sole varietal. The wine is always dry and aged on its lees and is characteristically effervescent, light, tangy, and almost salty, with citrus, licorice and white flower notes.
Vouvray (2,100 ha) Near Touraine in the Middle Loire. Chenin Blanc is the dominant varietal; however, a limited amount of Arbois can also be used. The appellation is the largest producer of Chenin Blanc in France. The wines are dry to sweet and 65% of the production is sparkling. The wines can be very unpredictable. Throughout the vinification the malolactic fermentation is usually forgone, and there is no ageing prior to bottling. The wines are characteristically acidic and richly fruity with quince, honey and almond notes.
Pouilly Fumé (1,000 ha) is located next to Sancerre in the Upper Loire. It is one of the Loire’s most famous wines. Sauvignon Blanc is the sole varietal. The wines are characteristically smoky, minerally and perfumed with acacia notes.
Saumur-Champigny (1,600 ha) is essentially a southwest extension of Touraine in the Middle Loire. The appellation is often considered to produce the best red wine of the Loire. Cabernet Franc is the dominant varietal; however, Cabernet Sauvignon and pineau d’Aunis can also be added as blending grapes. The wine is characteristically refreshing, light and fruity with red fruit, licorice and green pepper notes.
Côte Roannaise (200 ha) is located on the Southeastern edge of the Loire within the town of Roanne, about 70 kilometers West of Beaujolais. Gamay is the sole varietal and along with red wine, rosé is also produced. The red wine is usually vinified similar to Beaujolais, including semi-carbonic maceration, yielding characteristically light and fruity wine, often with banana and cherry notes.
The wines (all purchased at La Grande Epicerie at Le Bon Marché)…
VOUVRAY | 2007 Champalou – 11€45
Tidbits: 100% Chenin Blanc, 12.5% ABV, bottled immediately after fermentation
Kenny’s tasting notes: A rich and complex nose of overripe, white, fleshy, tropical fruit. Effervescent in the mouth with semi-sweet fruity flavors of citrus, peach, and dried apricot. Slighly bitter on the finish.
Ratings: Kenny, 15/20; MPA, 13.9/20
Raghu, “marron glacé”
Lina, “honey mustard turkey”
Ben, “SWEET!, why does everyone like it sweet?”
Sophie, “honey ham”
Sheila, “Japanese restaurant”
SAUMUR-CHAMPIGNY | 2008 Domaine des Roches Neuves, Thierry Germain [10€50]
Tidbits: 100% Cabernet Franc, 12.5% ABV, 3-day cold maceration, aged 3-4 months on lees in stainless and wood vats
Kenny’s tasting notes: On the nose it’s like a green olive and red fruit smoothie. Medium tannins and acidic in the mouth with notes of cherry.
Rating: Kenny, 12/20; MPA, 12.6/20
Lina, “stinky cheese”
Raghu, “clay and truffles”
Ben, “all sorts of cool shit”
Sheila, “old boat, hint of chevre”
POUILLY-FUMÉ | 2008 Michel Redde et Fils “Petit Fumé” [12€35]
Tidbits: 100% Sauvignon Blanc, 13% ABV, aged on lees a few months in stainless vats
Kenny’s tasting notes: Green apple and minerals on the nose. In the mouth this wine is quite refreshing with flavors of sour apple Jolly Ranchers, minerals, and bitter unripe peach pit. A great Summer picnic wine.
Ratings: Kenny, 14/20; MPA, 12.5/20
Sheila, “not getting a lot from this”
Pablo, “I don’t know how to describe tastes of wine”
MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE | 2008 Domaine Landron “Amphibolite Nature” (Bio) [11€20]
Tidbits: 100% Melon de Bourgogne, 11.2% ABV, TA 5.3 g/l, aged 4 months on lees in cement vats
Kenny’s tasting notes: A round and creamy nose with notes of orange, lemon, and yeast. A creamy acidity in the mouth with tangy citrus flavors, marked by grapefruit.
Ratings: Kenny, 13/20; MPA, 11.1/20
Raghu, “yunan green tea”
CÔTE ROANNAISE | 2007 Domaine des Pothiers [7€20]
Tidbits: 100% Gamay, 12% ABV
Kenny’s tasting notes: A funky, green nose with aromas of mint, banana and a subtle, distint hint of maneure, followed by a suggestion of sake after breathing for a few minutes in the glass. Very light and acidic in the mouth with flavors of plum, sour cherry and subtle notes of sweaty socks.
Ratings: Kenny, 9/20; MPA, 9/20
Vasu, “fungus, fertilizer, bark, raw mushroom”
Susie, “eggs, a bit rotten”
Raghu, “saw dust”
Franklin, “a bad date”
Tim, “fruity goat pee”
Ricardo, “huele a queso KA”
Junwei, “something gone bad in a dentist’s garbage can”
Euny, “farm stable”
Ben, “pure evil”