Loire Sauvignon Blanc came under the spotlight at Vinexpo this week as Jamie Goode presented a masterclass to highlight the region’s growing expertise with this grape variety.
The event featured a 14-strong selection of wines chosen from this year’s medal winners at the Concours Mondial du Sauvignon, which saw the Loire awarded 45% of the total medals from a field of 16 Sauvignon Blanc-producing countries.
“Sauvignon Blanc is a variety that can deliver precise wines with very good concentration of flavour,” recalled Goode of the qualities that he and the rest of the international judging panel rewarded. “You’re looking for the usual things of balance and definition and also wines that are commercially relevant.”
As for the refined selection on show at this Vinexpo masterclass, Goode explained: “We put together a range of styles and wines with unique expressions that together told a story.”
These included examples from across the region, including Pouilly-Fumé, Sancerre, Quincy, Touraine and the IGP Val de Loire, all from the 2012 vintage, which Goode summed up as “a very good, precise vintage in the Loire.”
Having written his own book on the variety, The Science of Sauvignon Blanc, Goode described the grape as “fascinating”, noting: “of all the grape varieties in the world, more scientific work has been done on Sauvignon Blanc than any other.”
Among the benefits of this research has been a greater understanding of compounds including methoxypyrazines, which are responsible for the variety’s characteristic grassy aroma; monoterpenes, which contribute its floral expression; and polyfunctional thiols which create the passionfruit character that is particularly associated with Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.
Summing up the effect of these combined influences in Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, Goode remarked: “What the Loire seems to be able to do is wines that have ripeness while retaining some of that greenness as well.”
Goode also highlighted the important work carried out in the Loire by consultant Sam Harrop MW as he pointed to the steady “fine-tuning” of viticulture and vinification seen across the region, which is resulting in a consistent level of high quality wines.
In short, he concluded: “The Loire can produce wines that are the best expression of Sauvignon Blanc you can get. Even at the bottom end you get really characterful wines at prices no-one else can match.”
Goode is due to host a further masterclass on Loire Sauvignon Blanc in London later this year.