French Wine- Loire Valley and Rosés from Southern France
This week we will sample French wines including three whites, two rosés, and one red. Four are from the Loire Valley and are imported by Jon David Headrick Selections; the two rosés are from Southern France and are imported by Bourgeois Family Selections.
The wines from the Loire Valley, as well as the majority from France, are named after the villages from which they come (as opposed to the grape variety). So, the Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine (place) is made from the white grape Melon de Bourgogne (a.k.a. melon), the Vouvray (place) is made from the white grape Chenin Blanc, and the Chinon (place) is made from the red grape Cabernet Franc; the fourth from the Loire is from an area called Touraine (quite a large sub-region of the Loire Valley) and made from the white grape Sauvignon (blanc).
The two rosés are both from Southern France from the South of the Rhone Valley and Provance, and both are made from blends of the same grapes, Grenache and Carignan. Although it may seem that the wines will taste alike, they are indeed quite different due to the terroir (temperature/climate, altitude, rainfall, etc.) of the sites that they come from and the way in which the wines are made. We love rosé, especially those from France, and these examples provide excellent contrast of style; one is fruity, approachable, and inexpensive, and the other more acidic, depthful and complex.
Jon David Headrick Selections, established in 2003, is owned by Jon David Headrick, an American who was a wine professional before he became a wine importer. His goal is to present wines that come from areas where the vine has to struggle with climatic conditions that are not ideal (less sun and rocky soil for instance) and made by people who allow the vine to grow naturally with little or no intervention. All of the wines he represents are French, the majority are from the Loire Valley, however he imports a small amount from Champagne, Burgundy, Normandy, and Provence. His producers also adhere to natural growing practices, using non-chemical fertilizers (such as compost); some practice organic viticulture, many practice biodynamic viticulture, and some practice sustainable viticulture. Jon David states, “In selecting properties for the portfolio, I seek purity first, eschewing heavy-handed usage of oak and opting instead for wines of excellent ripeness,minerality, and above all, balance. The presence of balanced acidity is absolutely crucial in my view to world-class wine, and I’m not afraid to represent wines that have startling acidity if there is fruit to support it.”
Bourgeois Family Selections, owned by French native Jean-Philippe Bourgeois, is a specialized importing company that focuses on French wine from small producers and lesser-known appellations. They spotlight wines that speak of their origins, or terroir, and are made from from handpicked grapes with knowledge that was passed from father to son. Philippe is a sixth-generation Frenchman in the wine and spirits industry and has spent years searching for organic producers, passionately hand-made, undiscovered gems of Old World France, to create a portfolio of wines to import to the American market. Philippe states on his website, “Our mission is straightforward: to empower our small estate producers from emerging regions as well as ancestral regions, which we feel represent the absolute best of the best, to market these wines with diligence and honor within the US and abroad and to make our wines approachable and great values to the American consumer.”
We have an excellent line-up this week; we hope you will join us to taste these hand-crafted, terroir-driven wines!
The specific wines for the tasting are:
Michel Delhommeau Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie Cuvée St. Vincent 2011– Monnières, Muscadet, Loire Valley. Made from 100% Melon de Bourgogne (a.k.a. Melon). Fermented and aged in tank on the lees (hince sur lie in the name; certain guidelines must be met in order to put sur lie on the label) and bottled without filtration. “Small-production, artisanal Muscadet from extremely mineral-laden soil. Very complex, with petrol and crushed rock aromas. Crisp and refreshing with great acidity and length.” More Muscadet is produced that any other Loire wine. It is in no way related to Muscat/Moscato. The sub-appellation Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine was established in 1936 and produces about 80% of all Muscadets. Imported by Jon David Headrick Selections. Tasting $9.99
La Craie Vouvray 2010– Vouvray, Loire Valley. 100% Chenin Blanc from hillside parcels just outside the village of Vouvray. Produced from young vines (15-25 years old) this bottling is always a light demi-sec (8-12 grams of residual sugar) and aged exclusively in stainless steel tank. ‘La Craie’ (chalk in French) is a crisp and delicious custom bottling that is taken from some of the best parcels in the appellation and produced from vines planted on the famous white chalk of Vouvray. The abundant soft, white rock (chalk), known locally as “Tuffeau,” ensures good drainage down the slopes in the vineyards, and keeps the soil warm at night and helps keep the roots from experiencing drastic temperature changes. Imported by Jon David Headrick Selections. Tasting $14.99
Jean Francois Merieau L’Arpents des Vaudons Sauvignon Blanc 2010– Touraine, Loire Valley. Touraine AOC was established in December of 1939. 100% Sauvignon Blanc from a single parcel of old vines (60 years old). Harvested by hand, fermented and aged in stainless steel tank for 7 months with some lees stirring. It is quite rich with a crisp, mineral backbone. A small-production bottling from organically grown grapes. Dry and lively with fresh fruit flavors and excellent complexity. Imported by Jon David Headrick Selections. Tasting $13.99
Caravinserail Elicio Rose 2011– Vin de Pays de Mediterrainée, South of the Rhone Valley. A blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Cinsault. Bright pink in color with fresh red fruit aromas of strawberry and raspberry, followed by a juicy fruit-filled palate. It is very fruit forward, but nicely balanced (especially considering the value) with refreshing acidity. Elicio is the “value-project” of vigneron Raphaël Trouiller of Domaine de Cascavel in Ventoux (Rhone Valley). Fruity, delicious and fresh, and outstanding value. Imported by Bourgeois Family Selections. Tasting $8.99
Chateau des Annibals Rosé 2011– Coteaux Varois en Provence. Rosé counts for more than half of the production of Provençal wine. The sub-region of Coteaux Varios en Provence is surrounded by the Sainte-Baume mountains which have a tempering effect on the Mediterranean influences that are common throughout Provence. This example is comprised of 60% Cinsault and 40% Grenache that aged in stainless steel tank. Chateau des Anniblas has been a family-owned property since the 18th century. This delicious rosé is aromatic, fruity, and finessed. It is soft pink in color and seductive aromas of peach, watermelon, and spring flowers. The finish is light, delicate, and refreshing with excellent length. Imported by Bourgeois Family Selections. Tasting $18.99
Domaine de la Noblaie Les Chiens-Chiens Chinon 2009– Chinon, Loire Valley. Young and dynamic winemaker Jerome Billard spent 6 months at Chateau Petrus before working at Dominus in California which opened his eyes to the possibilities of his family property. 100% Cabernet Franc, produced from a single block, hand-harvested, and aged 12 months in 2 and 3 year old barrels. A lovely and perfumed wine with more elegance than power and tremendous length and complexity. Opaque purple in color with a magenta edge. Dark fruits and spicy aromas are followed by a dry palate with dark berry and briary fruit flavors. Tannins and acid are present and balanced promising gentle evolution over the next 2-3 years. Imported by Jon David Headrick Selections. Tasting $17.99