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Thursday, 9 December 2010

Villebois Sauvignon Blanc, Touraine - Naked Wines‏

This latest wine from my mixed case of Naked Wines is an intriguing mixture of the Old World and the New.

Sealed under screwcap, and with the winery and varietal name featuring prominently on a simple, eye-catching, green-and-cream label, it feels modern, fresh and unfussy in a very New-World sort of way.

Eschewing heritage for shelf-appeal, we only learn that it's from France in general and AOC Touraine in particular from the bottom of a back label which gives far more column inches to a tasting note than to provenance.

And who can blame them ? The less-prestigious parts of France (with less of a heritage to lose) have been casting off their Old-World image and steadily re-branding themselves as the new New World for some time now.

The irony is that whilst, whilst the look-and-feel of the branding may have changed (a funky label here, a personal note from the winemaker there) the style of the wine generally has not - which is a Good Thing; this is a good, classic Loire white, after all (albeit, one with a slightly riper-than-normal 13% alcohol).

Perhaps the answer to all this lies in the fact that the winemaker, Joost de Villebois, is not originally from the Loire region, or even from France at all; he's actually Dutch and fell in love with the Loire valley whilst on holiday. However, he does employ French winemakers and keeps his production as organic as possible.

Co-incidentally, at a recent tasting I organised for some young PR professionals in London (see here), it was a Touraine that was chosen as the overall favourite of the evening, so this is just the sort of wine that should be really popular right now - no oak in sight and just a bit more serious than an overly tropical full-on kiwi Sauvignon.

Situated in northern France, the Loire Valley is very much cool-climate terroir and generally produces quite steely and pungent wines from the Sauvignon grape which does not always ripen fully leading to a distinct whiff of cat's pee.

However, when done well, fully-ripe Loire Sauvignon has a much more pleasant and intriguing aroma of flinty gunsmoke that is particularly associated with, but all too often lacking in, Sancerre.

As prices rise ever upwards on the back of limited supplies, next-door Touraine has become the better-value alternative to Sancerre with less cachet but often more flavour.

This wine has gooseberries and smokiness on the nose, whilst the palate is crisp and refreshing with white peach and hints of tropical fruit. Concentrated and minerally, it has a long and balanced finish.

There is enough ripe fruit here to enjoy this as a quaffing wine or an aperitif, but it will also match with food. We enjoyed it first with a simple starter of mozzarella and tomatoes garnished with fresh parsley and olive oil followed by a main of lightly-grilled trout fillets with smoked salmon and scrambled egg on the side.

For traditionalists, however, the classic match for a Loire Sauvignon is, of course, some local goat's cheese.

£8.99 / £5.99 for Angels - provided for review.

Naked Wine's Angels are a group of over 30,000 Naked Wines customers who regularly invest a set amount each month to help fund start-up wineries and receive cash back on their purchases as a result.

For more details on Naked Wines' Angels scheme, see this article by US blogger Arnold Waldstein:



Naked Wines - http://www.nakedwines.com/

Villebois Wines - http://villebois.eu/

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