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Tag Archives: Vouvray

The Loire Valley Harvest

A recent visit to Vouvray confirmed what we had observed throughout the Loire Valley region – the season was a month late.At Monmouseau they started picking on 9th September last year, while this year it was not until 9th October. The winemakers were waiting for grapes to arrive and with time on their hands gave us a fascinating tour of their facilities, deep in the cliffs of the Rochecorbon district. They also confirmed that sweet Vouvray wine would not be produced this year – it had not been warm enough.

At Montluoise sur Loire we tried the Cave Touristique for a tasting visit but were disappointed, not by the wines, but by the attention a seriously overworked staff could give us. It is a sales operation for several local producers and the sales man, while speaking English, was not the most expert I have encountered. Several points he made were quite wrong and I began to wonder if I should take anything he said seriously.

Cabernet Franc grapes are laoded into the press.

We were also able to watch Cabernet Franc grapes arriving at the co-op in Francueil. Hand picked grapes were loaded onto convayors after a test was made to confirm the sugar levels. After tasting the grapes we were allowed to tour the production facilities: the largest hydrolic press in the Loire and fermentation vessels dating back to the 1920’s (they have state-of-the-art stainless steel vessels as well, but the original old lined-concrete versions are wonderful). They are enthusiasts at Francueil and I had a long discussion with the co-op chairman about the history of the area as reflected in the names of the wines offered.

All winemakers are also confirming that while quantities are shockingly small this year, wine quality will be high. Unfortunately areas like this are unlikely to be able to charge any more for this scarce product, so incomes will be very low.


Sommelier Wine Awards 2012 Winners – Loire Valley

I’ve just been looking at the award winners in Imbibe’s Sommelier awards and a few Loire wines did very well:

Gold Award

Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Blanc, 2010, Loire, France

An accomplished, complex Sancerre, with a fine mix of smoke, minerals, soft white fruits, elderflower and citrus notes on the nose. ‘Mineral palate of lemon zest and stones, with a lengthy finish and good balance,’ said Tom Forrest, Vinopolis, adding ‘Waxy notes, apples in the background’. ‘Classical Sancerre – elegant and refined,’ said Louise Gordon, Rib Room at the Jumeirah Carlton Hotel. Try with prawn cocktail, or seafood.

£15.00 Stevens Garnier Wine Agency

Laporte Le Rochoy Sancerre Blanc, 2010, Loire, France

With classic Sancerre notes of gooseberry, fresh cut grass and hay, minerals and – of course – cats pee on the nose, this shows a fine acidity and complexity on the palate – think stone fruit, apples, pears and zippy gooseberries – and a medium finish. Goat’s cheese salad was the popular match.

£12.75 Laporte

La Cabriole Saumur Blanc, 2010, Loire, France

With a grassy note on the nose, this starts restrained and elegant, continuing to a youthful, dry, green apple and citrus-infused palate with breezy acidity. ‘Lovely minerality with some depth,’ said Fionnuala Synnott, Pollen Street Social. ‘A lot of white pepper on the palate,’ said Northcote’s Adam Pawlowski, adding ‘Serve as an aperitif, or with fish, shellfish or salads.’

£6.35 Enotria

Silver award

Domaine Vacheron Le Paradis Sancerre Blanc, 2010, Loire, France

With plenty of citrusy length on the palate, the judges liked the lemon zest and apple flavours, hints of stony minerals and grassy notes. ‘Smoked bacon, steely nuttiness, lanolin and grapefruit,’ noted Diego Muntoni, OXO Tower Restaurant. Might well have gone further, aside from the price.

£23.00 Stevens Garnier Wine Agency

Domaine des Marnières Cheverny Blanc, 2010, Loire, France

A textured – and many would say, textbook – Sauvignon, this has fresh green characters of Granny Smith, zippy nettley aromas, gooseberry and lime with a streak of minerality. With its soft juicy palate and nice finish, Hamish Anderson’s The Tate Group, called it ‘Good entry point stuff.’

£7.18 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Hubert Brochard Pouilly-Fumé, 2010, Loire, France

With flint and gunsmoke on the restrained herbaceous nose, there’s ‘oranges and satsumas, apricots and peaches on a zingy palate’, said Igor Sotric, China Tang at The Dorchester Hotel. ‘Quite a classic style,’ said consultant Angela Reddin, adding ‘the subtle flavours and definition are excellent.’

£9.50 Greene King

Bouchié-Chatellier Premier Millésimé Pouilly-Fumé, 2010, Loire, France

Plenty of texture and complexity with this expresive wine. An opulent nose of white peach with herbal hints, the palate shows a fine minerality and good, lengthy finish. Already good, would some bottle age help it open up and evolve more?

£11.75 Boutinot Ltd

Eric Louis La Côte Blanche Sancerre Rouge, 2010, Loire, France

Pale garnet in colour, this boasts light earthy aromas of red fruits, with a fine flourish of red cherries and berries on the palate, rose petals, fresh acidity and moderate tannins. ‘Elegant and light,’ commented Mariyana Radulova, Royal Thames Yacht Club.

£11.50 Bibendum Wine

Bronze award

Les Vignerons du Pallet, Château des Templiers Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie, 2009, Loire, France

Bright and tangy, as Muscadet should be, with pear fruit on the nose, and a zesty, fresh palate with a dash of perfume. ‘Good minerality on the mid-palate and a breezy finish,’ said Jade Koch, consultant.

£5.00 Cavendish Wines

Philippe Girard Silex Sancerre Blanc, 2010, Loire, France

‘Green aromas of gooseberry and grass lead to a rounded mineral palate with some ripeness and tropical fruit on this zippy Sancerre,’ said Vinopolis’ Tom Forrest. ‘A strong mineral dryness leads to a refreshing length.’

£10.40 Boutinot Ltd

Les Coteaux Tufiers Vouvray Demi-Sec, 2009, Loire, France

After an attractive, sweet jasmine and honey perfumed nose, the palate is juicy and vibrant, with apricot, passionfruit and peach, plus good minerality. ‘Could be more complex, but fun as it is,’ said consultant Jade Koch.

£5.65 Boutinot Ltd

Domaine Tinel-Blondelet Pouilly-Fumé, 2011, Loire, France

Aromas of cooking apples mix with Turkish Delight and herbal notes on the nose, leading to a palate with ripe apples and pears, punchy acidity, an elegant minerality and a long finish. Available to the UK on-trade via Jascots Wine Merchants.

£11.80 Jascots Wine Merchants

Domaine Pellé Le Silex du Carroir Menetou-Salon Morogues, 2010, Loire, France

‘Lovely clean scents, herbaceous hints and a flinty top note lead through to excellent layering in the mouth,’ said consultant Angela Reddin, adding that it ‘manages to be crunchy and smooth at the same time – great finish.’

£11.95 Boutinot Ltd

Many thanks to for this fascinating insight.