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Friday, 1 July 2022

Six Centre Loire Wines

Six Centre Loire wines

There's an old saw in the wine trade about punters who declaim: I never drink Chardonnay but I love Chablis.

I've heard this story many times from retailers and educators but I have never actually heard the statement uttered by anyone.

And while it may be fun to laugh at the nonsense that people say, or are reported to have said, there is actually some truth in the idea.

Chablis is, of course, made from the Chardonnay grape, so at face value the statement is nonsense. 

However, "Chardonnay" was for a long time the varietal labelling of many an overripe, over-oaked New World wine, so there can indeed be a valid distinction between a cool-climate, steely wine with "Chablis" on the bottle versus plonk from some antipodean Creek or Gully labelled as "Chardonnay".

Today's equivalent to this may well be: I never drink Sauvignon but I love Loire whites.

New Zealand Sauvignon took the aromatic potential of the great Loire grape and turning it up to 11 discovered the 21st Century's first proper darling - for a while, at least. The combination of cool maritime climates, extended skin contact and temperature-controlled stainless steel fermentation resulted in a pungent expressive white with as much subtlety as Robin Williams after too many glasses of orange squash.

And just as Chablis remains the OG for Chardonnay, Loire whites have a timeless, classic complexity and sophistication this is neither as as in-yer-face and thrillingly modern as Marlborough c. 2004 nor as dated now either.
These six wines from Centre Loire - the middle section of one of France's great rivers -  show what this region can do in terms of colour and price.

Of the whites, right now, the entry-level wine from Coteaux du Giennois (no, me neither) is drinking best, but given a couple of years the more ambitious Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre will round out and become more harmonious. If you must drink them young, match with some food and give them plenty of time in the decanter.

The Quincy has a warmth and heft that demands weighty foods.

The rosé is an elegant and complex Pinot Gris while the red from Menetou Salon red is an atypical Pinot; darker, leafier and less farmyardy than Burgundy. Tasted blind, I would have guessed Cab Franc.

Coteaux du Giennois, Taste the Difference 2020/2021 £11.00 (Sainsbury’s)

100% Sauvignon Blance with some aging on fine lees.

lifted aromatics, lemongrass, mint and fresh green herbs; citrus, melon and orchard fruits with flinty, slatey minerality, leesiness and good underpinnings.

Drinks nicely on first pouring.


Match with goat's cheese or seafood starters.

Pouilly-Fumé, Domaine Chatelain 2020/2021 £16.99 (Waitrose)

100% Sauvignon Blanc from vines aged 30 - 45 years; aged on fine lees.

flinty herbaceous nose with grapefruit pith; saline mineral with citrus, melon, ripe white stone fruits and green apple; zippy lime marmalade ; elegant, concentrated and very adept.

Improves with aeration and will repay some cellaring.

Very Good.

Match with white fish, seafood or pork terrine.

Sancerre, Château de Crézancy 2020/2021 £19.99 or £17.99 mix six (Majestic Wine)

100% Sauvignon Blanc aged on fine lees until April of the following year

flinty with stone fruits and honeysuckle florality; white peach, citrus, grass, pear, and yellow bell pepper with wet stone minerality, lemongrass, grapefruit and lime; complex with leesy, brazil nut savouriness and good underpinnings.

Improves with aeration and will repay some cellaring.

Very Good.

Match with goat's cheese or mackerel paté salad.

Quincy Vieilles Vignes Domaine du Tremblay 2020 £14.50 (The Wine Society)

100% Sauvignon Blanc with some aging on fine lees.

baked spiced apple and lemon meringue pie; warming, weighty and viscous with dried orchard fruits and yellow stone fruit, sweet spices, creamy brazil nut, persistent savoury leesiness and saline minerality.

Drinks nicely on first opening, but improves with aeration and will repay some cellaring.

Match with weightier dishes such as roast pork or pasta with a creamy mushroom sauce.

Reuilly Rosé Les Chatillons, Denis Jamain 2020 £15.95 (BBR)

100% Pinot Gris with three hours of skin contact and five months of fine lees aging.

delicate red berry fruits, florality and savoury leesiness; fresh, citrussy, saline and supple with ripe white stone fruits, orchard fruits, melon and a touch of warming sweet spices.

Improves with aeration.

Very Good

A versatile food rosé; match with weightier picnic foods such as cold cuts, quiche

Menetou Salon red, Domaine Chavet La Cote 2020 £16.99 (Virgin Wines)

100% Pinot Noir grown on Kimmeridgian soil of fossilised oysters; aged in vats and large oak foudres.

dark translucent purple; red and black berry fruits, raspberry leaf, and spicy-savoury miso; fresh and minty-herbaceous with juicy red and black cherry fruit, soft berries and spice; concentrated and supple with very fine tannins. Very deft and accomplished.

Very Good.


Chris Kissak's review of Quincy Vieilles Vignes Domaine du Tremblay: Domaine du Tremblay Quincy Cuvée Vieilles Vignes 2020 • Winedoctor (thewinedoctor.com)

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